How long does it take for early trauma to stop torturing us? By torture, I mean symptoms of anxiety, depression, nightmares, obsessions, social phobias, a loveless marriage, workaholism etc. Bad things happened to many of us when we were young — abuse, devaluation by insensitive parents, medical problems, abandonment, alcoholic neglect…

We all hoped that as the years passed, the emotional pain and hurtful memories would just go away and leave us alone. Unfortunately, most of the time it didn’t happen. Like a homeless man pushing his shopping cart filled with fourth-hand treasures wrapped in plastic bags, we carried our emotional baggage wherever we went, the early trauma sitting inside us like a ripe abscess, interfering with our capacity to make good choices and be at peace.

One 60 year-old man’s long-standing depression began to lift only after he was able to express the rage he felt toward his long-dead father. A 40 year-old woman who was molested thirty years earlier, finally started to be more social and outgoing AFTER she tracked down and confronted her now 70-plus year-old molester.

Remembering the past doesn’t make it worse. It gives us the chance to deal with the early traumas and finally gain mastery over them.

Chase your past! Force yourself to remember and discuss the taboo issues that you’ve kept so carefully hidden. I believe it will be helpful.

11 thoughts on “CHASING OUR PAST… IS IT REALLY NECESSARY? by Art Smukler MD

    1. I think we definitely process traumatic events and anxieties through our dreams. Often they’re disguised, but with work they can be deciphered and are often very helpful. It’s a great question and worthy of a future post. Thanks!


    2. Good question! In my experience, the effects of the trauma normally last 2 years, unless there are other negative factors operating. It usually, leaves a permanent injury. All others factors need to be addressed as well. Different modes of therapy need to be used, eg, medication, cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, Gestalt therapy, Insight Therapy, Directive Therapy, Reality Therapy and more. It is a very though disorder. Bernie


    1. To put trauma behind you, it’s necessary to “work it through” in the present and not repress the psy injury.


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