Developmental Trauma

Infancy Trauma

If you were traumatized as an infant, part of you remains at the stage where it doesn't even want to meet its own needs. It is just a baby, and needs mom to meet all of one's needs. And the baby needs mom to be able to do this without the benefit of a shared spoken language.
To heal this kind of trauma, the adult needs someone to treat them as a baby again, intuiting their needs and meeting them. When this is done for a long enough period of time, the baby-adult moves on to being a toddler-adult.

Toddler Trauma

If you were traumatized as a toddler, then part of you remains at the toddler stage before autonomy is fully developed. One symptom of this is always asking, "What do you want to do?" without ever asking oneself what one wants, or dismissing one's own wants as unimportant.
The toddler stage needs to make decisions and have them be honored. This requires getting some friends and/or an intimate partner in on the process. They need to understand how important your need for autonomy is so that they can prompt you for your feelings, your desires and then honor them, whatever they are.

Trauma Creation

How is this trauma created? Simple: the baby's cries are ignored, and the toddler saying "no" is invalidated. Oh wait, that's standard practice in our culture! No wonder everyone is wounded!
We all have different aspects stuck at different points. I have an aspect frozen as a baby, another aspect frozen as a toddler, another as an adolescent, and other aspects that made it to adulthood.

Selective Identification

When enough of us has matured to adulthood, we can make the choice to selectively identify with our adult aspects. Then these frozen aspects only come out when we're especially stressed and unable to maintain our selective identification with our adult selves.
The confusing part about this is that we display a fully-formed, healthy adult most of the time, but then we throw tantrums and everyone can't understand why. We blame it on "stress" but the stress is just the trigger, not the root cause.
This is what happens to me and it is the most common pattern I witness in people around me. People wear very thick masks of adulthood, but each and every one of the people I know, my husbands included, have a significant aspect of self that has stagnated a long time ago.
Yes, there are those who are fully stagnated who end up in special care because they're entirely dysfunctional even when it comes to basic care for themselves. But everyone has a touch of this problem, and most of us have more than "a touch." Even those of us who claim we had "great upbringing." That's your selective identification talking.
I think this is important to recognize, because even our healers, our "mommy figures" in developmental trauma centers, our doctors, and so on, are damaged too. This doesn't mean they don't have a lot to offer – they do. But everyone needs care, and if they are acting like they don't, the chances are they've selectively identified with their functional, adult self and shut-out their screaming inner child.

Why Multiplicity Recognition Matters

We need to see both sides in every person we meet – the side that is capable, powerful and offers valuable lessons and the side that is hurt, broken, wounded and in desperate need of help.
If we fail to see this, we'll go around labeling some people as "healthy humans who don't need help" and some people as "broken people with nothing to offer and a desperate need for care." When we label people like this, we do a disservice to both the people we label as "functional" and the people we label as "dysfunctional" and to ourselves.
It is a disservice to a functional person to disregard their inner child crying out for help. Just because they're doing it to themselves doesn't make it kind for you to do it too.
It is a disservice to a so-called dysfunctional person to disregard their gifts and offerings. They have experiences that are valuable to share, and often they have a surprising level of expertise in the areas that interest them most. Invalidating the parts of them that are valuable to society at large only furthers their wounding.
It is a disservice to yourself to label people one or the other because you miss out on opportunities to boost your own sense of value by helping the so-called functional people, as well as opportunities to learn from the so-called dysfunctional people.
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