Emotional Scars

Emotional Scars of Trauma and Why It’s Important to Make Sense of It


Until recently, scientists thought that emotional scars of  trauma only resulted from highly stressful, violent, and painful experiences, but later studies found that this was not the case. Small, frequently repeated stressors such as reproaches, humiliation, ridicule, criticism, mistreatment, can cause chronic trauma that is no less impactful than that caused by radical events. This type of trauma is often underestimated, but it can lead to very bad consequences if not overcome.

Each person reacts differently to adverse events. Some manage to easily and quickly cope with the pain, while for others, it becomes chronic. The same thing can be very painful for one person and not affect another at all. Someone who is more sensitive may experience things very intensely and long-term, while those who are less sensitive may feel almost nothing from a stressful situation. Many people teeter on the extremes of apathetic or hypersensitive. Depending on how it is perceived, the same thing can cause intense emotional pain or no pain at all. It also depends on whether there are old wounds in the soul. If a person has highly problematic thoughts and feelings, a stressful event can cause them to explode like explosives. These types of thoughts and feelings can make a seemingly innocuous event very stressful.


It is wrong to think that traumatized people cannot achieve high professional or personal results in life. On the contrary, there are many cases of quite successful people who have been badly traumatized. This may also be due to the fact that both post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic growth occur after trauma. This generates tension that stimulates personality development. But complexes (painful thoughts and feelings) are also produced, which can lead to unhealthy ambitions. They can bring high professional fulfillment, but at the expense of deficits in personal life.

Chronic emotional scars of trauma occurs when there are long-lasting stressful experiences. This could be domestic violence, toxic environments, prolonged wars, stressful circumstances, and more. Victims of chronic trauma may lose the ability to make decisions in their lives. It creates a permanent feeling of powerlessness that weakens the will. As a consequence of it, an acute need for control may appear at a later stage. It appears as a protective response to ensure that such pain will never be experienced again. Over-control over everything creates a sense of predictability, albeit a twisted one.

Traumatized people do not like to share about their personal lives and look back on their past. They fear that such information can be used against them or that recalling the past will bring them back to the pain. It is difficult for them to be authentic and show trust. They fear abandonment or rejection, often have unrealistic expectations, and tend to avoid risks. The paradox is that they feel a strong need for warm-hearted relationships, but at the same time they distance themselves from people as a defensive reaction.

Trauma can trigger opiate addiction or even self-harm. These are early warning responses to avoid chronic emotional scars. It can manifest itself in momentary strong feelings of anger, guilt, shame, fear, hatred, self-blame, etc.

Whether we have experienced minor or major traumas, if we are experiencing severe chronic pain, then we have not yet overcome those emotional scars of traumas. On one hand, they have hurt us, but on the other hand, they have stimulated us to develop important aspects of ourselves, such as qualities, values, understandings. If we focus on the latter and appreciate its importance, we will reduce the negative impacts. This will help us to free ourselves from the defense mechanisms that initially protected us, but now limit us. The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect. When someone feels the full pain of their past and is able to make sense of it, they can resolve their trauma and change their path to a better future.