Can love and trust people with CPTSD

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

Particularly severe or repeated or long-lasting trauma, for example as a result of psychological, physical or sexual experiences of violence or experiences of physical or emotional neglect in childhood, can result in considerable impairment of experience, thinking, feeling and interaction with the environment. Many sufferers have a wide range of symptoms that include a pattern of typical changes and as complex post-traumatic stress disorder referred to as:

Changes in emotion regulation and impulse control

Those affected often have considerable difficulties in dealing with stressful or unpleasant feelings such as anger, anger or sadness. They fail to create the necessary distance to the inner processes and to calm themselves down. Accordingly, they either react disproportionately emotionally, in some cases even to the point of losing control, or use great forces to hide their own emotionality, which they consider "threatening", from their fellow human beings. If those affected are overwhelmed in their regulatory ability, this is sometimes expressed in outbursts of anger, behavior that harms others or self-harm, or attempts to calm down with alcohol or drugs. In addition, many of those affected have to struggle with strong auto-destructive impulses, which manifests itself not only in deliberate self-harming acts up to suicidality, but also in obvious negligence in safety issues. Avoidance or, on the contrary, excessive or compulsive living out of sexuality also belong in this area.

Changes in attention and awareness

Complex traumatized people often report phenomena of consciousness such as dissociative episodes in which their conscious experience withdraws from the outside world, pronounced memory gaps or so-called derealization or depersonalization experience, during which the environment appears distant and how unreal or the feeling is "like next to you" to stand. On the other hand, the traumatic experiences can also be stressful reliving in the form of intrusive symptoms.

Changes in self-awareness

Many of those affected experience themselves as helpless and have the feeling that they can only exert little influence on the course of their lives. Often, pronounced feelings of guilt arise, even in situations in which it is clear that the person concerned has no responsibility. Many complex traumatized people feel isolated from their fellow human beings and, due to feelings of shame, have great difficulty in showing themselves to other people for who they are. In most cases, there is only a low self-esteem and those affected often live with the conviction that they are not really understood by anyone.

Changes in relationships with others

Due to their often extremely stressful previous experience in the interpersonal area, complex traumatized people often have great difficulty trusting other people. Many of those affected are therefore very cautious when it comes to making contact with other people and find it difficult to resolve and manage conflicts. At the same time, it is not uncommon for them to have little sense of their own limits, so that they repeatedly find themselves in situations in which they are exploited or even abused. Some complex traumatized people, on the other hand, take on the role of perpetrator themselves and injure other people mentally or physically.


Those affected often suffer from numerous physical complaints for which no organic explanation can be found. The complaints can be very diverse and encompass every organ system. It is not uncommon for several symptoms to appear at the same time. Chronic pain, complaints of the digestive system, exhaustion, dizziness and complaints in the heart, breathing and urinary or genital tracts are particularly common.

Changes in attitudes towards life

Many complex traumatized people have great despair and hopelessness and feel resigned and disaffected. Values, attitudes to life or religious beliefs that may have held back at an earlier point in life have lost their meaning or no longer make sense.

Since the complex PTSD is a very heterogeneous clinical picture and has so far been hardly mentioned in the current diagnostic manuals ICD-10 and DSM-IV, it often remains undetected for a long timeOverlap with other mental illnesses like the borderline personality disorder, the non-complex PTSD, thedissociative disorders, Depression, anxiety or panic disorders as well as addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorders. This is why other diagnoses are often made first. It is not uncommon for it to be recognized later that there is a connection with trauma. However, the correct assessment is a prerequisite for complex traumatized people to receive the treatment they need - mostly specific and qualified trauma therapy.

Further information on the consequences of persistent childhood trauma

Literature on the consequences of persistent childhood trauma

Media reports on the consequences of sexual trauma

Media reports on the consequences of organized violence

When do I need a qualified trauma therapist and where can I find him?

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