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  • Writer's pictureDr. C

Developmental Trauma: Black and White Thinking

Developmental trauma occurs when children experience chronic stress, abuse, or neglect during critical stages of their development, which can impact their physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Black and white thinking is a common cognitive distortion that can occur in people who have experienced developmental trauma. Here are some examples of how it can manifest:


1. Dichotomous views of relationships: Children who experience developmental trauma may struggle with forming healthy relationships. They may see people as either completely good or completely bad, without considering the complexity of human behavior. This can lead to difficulties with boundaries and trust in relationships.


2. Extreme views of self-worth: Children who experience developmental trauma may struggle with feelings of shame and low self-esteem. This can lead to all-or-nothing thinking, where they see themselves as either completely worthless or entirely perfect, without recognizing their strengths and weaknesses.


3. Black and white thinking about safety: Children who experience developmental trauma may struggle with feeling safe in the world. They may see the world as either entirely dangerous or entirely safe, without recognizing the nuances of risk and safety.


4. Dichotomous views of emotional regulation: Children who experience developmental trauma may struggle with regulating their emotions. They may see their emotions as either entirely overwhelming or completely shut down, without recognizing the range of emotions that can exist within a situation.


5. Extreme views of responsibility: Children who experience developmental trauma may struggle with feeling responsible for things that are not their fault. This can lead to all-or-nothing thinking, where they see themselves as either entirely responsible or entirely blameless, without recognizing the complexity of the situation.


It's essential to recognize these patterns of black and white thinking in people who have experienced developmental trauma and work with a mental health professional to develop more balanced and nuanced perspectives. This can involve strategies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, trauma-focused therapy, and mindfulness practices that can help individuals reframe their thoughts and develop more adaptive coping strategies. With the right support and resources, individuals who have experienced developmental trauma can heal and thrive.


If you've been trying to get through developmental trauma and would like additional support contact me at InfuseYourFuture@aol.com and we'll set up a complimentary session to see if we're a good fit to work together.


"Complex-PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving" by Pete Walker is a great resource for healing from developmental trauma.


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