CHILDHOOD TRAUMA – THE INVISIBLE TYPE, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Often, childhood isn’t all that dramatic. No beatings, no sexual abuse, and no drunken binges with screaming and knife throwing. It’s quietly and confusingly more like a Chinese water torture — an intermittant trickle of devaluing words, missed chances to validate and unrecognized pleas for help. To others your life may look great, but not to you. Your pain is palpable, even though the cause is subtle and invisible.

You suspect that something’s wrong, but just can’t figure it out. You don’t know why you don’t love your parents like you’re supposed to. You don’t know why you’re miserable.

“What’s wrong with me?” you think. “Everyone else likes them. I’m a terrible person to feel this way.”

Then in 7th grade or 8th grade or college, you get depressed. You think, maybe I just need some Prozac. A pill should fix me. So arrangements are made and you see a psychiatrist or therapist. Hopefully, the doctor understands that in this case, pills aren’t the answer. He sees it as a chance to examine your life and really help you to get better. So with trepidation and more than a few misgivings you begin psychotherapy.

To use poetic license and a time travelers magic, I’ll quickly move therapy right along. You shed your guilt, become aware of your rage, and your depression begins to lift. It’s like bursting out of a quicksand pool and finally being able to spread the wings you never knew you had.

You can leave your troubled family on the ground below as you discover a world filled with adventure and new ideas. They may remain locked in their rigid, unchangeable world, but that doesn’t mean that you’re duty bound to continue to share that world. You can try to help them, but they have to be willing. As you’ve learned, it’s not easy to examine life from a foreign vantage point. Your family may be too damaged to change. But you’re not. You’ll never be the same again!

Do you believe that childhood trauma can be overcome? What started your healing process? What happened to your family when you changed?

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7 thoughts on “CHILDHOOD TRAUMA – THE INVISIBLE TYPE, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

  1. There’s a book about this called “The Narcissistic Family,” by Stephanie and Robert Pressman. They realized that there were a whole lot of patients whose complaints were similar to those of Adult Children of Alcoholics, but there was no alcoholism or overt dysfunction in their families. That doesn’t mean something wasn’t very wrong! I have posted elsewhere that I had very much of a love-hate relationship with my mother. Spending two years with her before she died helped me see just how dysfunctional she was, and how irrational her reactions were to different situations. It really helped me understand the effect she had on me in a way I never would have, had I not been able to see her with the distance of some detachment after many many years. Now to deal with the rest of my family…!?


    1. Thank you! The best place to find everything is on my blog, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist. All my posts are available and my novel, Chasing Backwards, can be ordered through Amazon or B & N.



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