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Betrayal trauma, dissociative experiences and dysfunctional family dynamics: Flashbacks, self-harming behaviors and suicide attempts in post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative disorders

Erdinc Ozturk, Barishan Erdogan.


Betrayal trauma consists of negative life experiences in which the victims are close to the traumatizing people as well as institutions for which they rely upon protection, support, resources and survival. In most cases, it operates as a dynamic of dysfunctional families which are described as pathologically-structured patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviors, which function as violence-oriented negative child-rearing styles and generate childhood traumas. Trauma-related psychopathologies frequently discussed with these notions tend to be correlated to a high risk of self-harming behaviors and suicide attempts. It is, thus, of great importance to comprehend, explain and approach suicide attempts in trauma-related psychopathologies such as post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative disorders by taking the dysfunctional familial dynamics and succeeding betrayal trauma both in clinical and forensic settings. Thus, in this review, betrayal trauma, dissociative experiences and dysfunctional family dynamics were discussed in terms of the dissociogenic reactions directed to them as well as flashbacks, suicide attempts and self-harming behaviors.

Key words: Betrayal trauma, dissociation, dysfunctional families, flashbacks, self-harming behaviors, suicide attempts, childhood trauma, trauma-related psychopathologies, intergenerational transmission of trauma

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