Why do people stay in a relationship with those who hurt them? One thing is for sure – it is NOT because they are stupid. They have trauma bonding – and this is NOT their fault.
Trauma bonding describes the attachment dilemma that occurs from the type of trauma caused to our emotions (i.e. betrayal and neglect, over and over and over). It’s the type of bonding that can easily occur via passive-aggressive manipulation (i.e. sex, lies, silent treatments) and other forms of narcissistic control.The narcissist partner, as cunning as he or she is, understands the process for streamlining a victim’s codependency to point of least resistance. He has actually figured out – without a single day of formal training – that the best way to ensure narcissistic supply is to create trauma bonds with his targets via the method of “seduce and discard”. From http://www.thenarcissisticpersonality.com/trauma-bonding/
“Some scientists were conducting an experiment,” he said, “trying to gauge the impact of abuse on children. Ducks, like people, develop bonds between mother and young. They call it imprinting. So the scientists set out to test how that imprint bond would be affected by abuse.
“The control group was a real mother duck and her ducklings. For the experimental group, the scientist used a mechanical duck they had created – feathers, sound, and all – which would, at timed intervals, peck the ducklings with its mechanical beak. A painful peck, one a real duck would not give.
They varied these groups. Each group was pecked with a different level of frequency. And then they watched the ducklings grow and imprint bond with their mother.
“Over time,” he went on, “the ducklings in the control group would waddle along behind their mother. But as they grew, there would be more distance between them. They’d wander and explore.
“The ducklings with the pecking mechanical mother, though, followed much more closely. Even the scientists were stunned to discover that the group that bonded and followed most closely was the one that had been pecked repeatedly with the greatest frequency. The more the ducklings were pecked and abused, the more closely they followed. The scientist repeated the experiment and got the same results.”
Attachment Theory & Trauma Bonding part starts at 20:20 – but the whole podcast is great.