Early childhood traumas and their impact on interpersonal relationships

Model of object-relationship-theory

Fig. 1: Acquired from own source: Andrawis A, (2018).

Like Andrawis, (2018), Figure 1 shows the triangulation relationship between father V, child K and mother M. This representation is of early childhood trauma that has been repressed / repressed unconsciously V-UBW.

The repressions result from object-relationship conflicts and injuries to the child’s basic needs. See above in the illustration of Fig.1: The Weeping Child (Andrawis A, 2018). The personality structural deficiencies and destructive-infantile behavior patterns of the repressed unconscious are results of early childhood traumas. This is the relationship between the child, the mother and the breast. Metaphor: Mother-breast, which presents itself as a source of life for the baby (ibid.).

Conflicts of the object relationship

All a newborn child needs is LOVE!

A newborn child needs basic needs like “love” as well as warmth, security and food. These are the most important existential basics for the survival of the toddler. If these basic needs are not met, these are the reasons for the child’s crying. Other causes of the toddler’s discomfort may be:  The birth itself and the separation of the umbilical cord between child and mother are traumas of the child. After birth, the newborn is given a different form of food, which leads to flatulence in the digestive tract and painful pressure in the abdomen. The child’s stomach is small, which quickly makes the child hungry and weepy. His discomfort is expressed in screams. The initial product is an acidic environment that causes pain and reddening of the skin.  Another reason for crying is various illnesses that can be experienced by the child as trauma. The child’s world collapses because he or she cannot rationally understand and thus develops the feeling of not being loved and appreciated. The newborn child thus falls into the role of powerlessness. Thus the basic trust and love of the child have been violated (ibid.).

This results in early childhood traumas that have been pushed into the unconscious, which I have called the metaphor “burial chamber of the unconscious”. These are manifested in the burial chamber and develop into pathological symptoms in the further course of life. From this state of extradition affects, personality development disorders, ego weakness, feelings of insecurity and inferiority complexes arise.

Therefore the superego stands in the foreground and these disturbance pictures remain upright (ibid.). When primal love and trust have been violated, these pathological symptoms are induced in the form of distrust, devaluation and other psychological conflicts. The fear floods the child, who even for a moment fails to help. Anxiety symptoms then induce themselves. Therefore, the primary and secondary oedipal complex play an essential role in personality development. Other consequences may include personality disorders. One can see the early childhood traumas as causes for transmission phenomena, which are carried as projections from one person to another and are directed against a healthy interpersonal relationship. When a person projects onto another person, he or she is not aware of this and the person concerned feels treated wrongly. This event can quickly lead to sadomasochistic behaviour on both sides.

The danger is that the affected person will be placed in the role of dysfunctionality in their communication and empathy, resulting in unresolved conflicts that can lead to separation (ibid.).

These actions take place in the field of ratio, the tip of the iceberg in Freud’s metaphor. Those affected forget that the cause of the evil lies in early childhood traumas of the unconscious. Basically, the unconscious does not communicate with the conscious, resulting in interpersonal conflicts. Unfortunately, this is also reflected in world politics. By which fear and mistrust create military arms race of nuclear weapons and other high-tech war tools, so that people can destroy each other. Soldiers thus face other soldiers in war and fight each other.

Peace in the world can happen through healthy communication. The metaphor “Mother Earth” should not be constantly bombarded with nuclear weapons. The world powers claim that they are looking for water in space, because in their opinion the earth does not have enough water. Of course this assertion is not correct. On our planet there are more rivers than dry ground. In order to cover basic human needs, the world powers can shift the search for water and mineral resources from space to earth. Each mission in space costs the world billions of euros or dollars (ibid.).

This is a great loss of resources, but we need them to use Mother Earth and her enough unused land.

There should be enough food and employment in the world to guarantee peace (ibid.).

A positive world project

In this project the world powers should stop their “paranoid behaviour” of war armor, because here only fear is in the foreground. Instead, they should trust and care for each other. “Life without fear” healing through hope, faith and love. This conviction will lead to satisfaction in the world and peace. Never give up hope and ensure that living together in peace succeeds.  They should support the greening of deserts like the Sahara. Further you create enough jobs in the world and thus the basic needs of the people can be fulfilled (ibid.).

Mother Earth has enough energy resources

The tropical countries have enough sun and light! the world powers should build a global solar plant there. So one could use this climate and supply water there to green dry soil. And only in this way can the energy needs of the people be covered. These resources were hardly used so far. Soldiers can be converted into soldiers of peace and warships into normal transport ships. Such ideas should be implemented on a diplomatic level to contribute to world peace (ibid.).

Metaphor of the “iceberg model

The metaphor of Freud’s “iceberg model”/topological model “human place of psyche representation” consists of three different areas: Consciousness BW, subconsciousness VBW and unconscious UBW. Consciousness is the tip of the metaphors of the iceberg model After Sigmund Freud, (1984 p. 306), a level that we humans can perceive with our senses. We can feel that feelings are perceived. Just as the author has described in the year (2018), mental apparatus is the UBW. to compare with the consciousness content that the tip of this iceberg model can be compared with the human ratio, the “I” consciousness. From a psychoanalytical point of view, this is the level at which humans can comprehend their perception, emotions and any kind of interpersonal relationship(ibid.).

When the perceptions become conscious, then we have access to understanding and interpretation. Consciousness is composed of thoughts and values, just as we think about something.  What is perceived is in the consciousness level.  For this the comparison with the unconscious UBW; is that area of memories which is not in the consciousness, but has been repressed. And includes areas of the human psychic apparatus that cannot yet fake as consciousness. In UBS, there is a destructive infantile behavior pattern that can be described as Psychic Work Processes. By repressing memories, early childhood traumas, which have never been uncovered or made conscious.

Pre-conscious VBW is that area of the human being that can appear in consciousness at any time or not. These are memories that have been recalled or forgotten. A way of thinking between consciousness and UBW.

The VBW is when something floats in our thoughts but we cannot remember it. It lies between the consciousness and the unconscious.

The repressed unconscious is neither conscious nor accessible to us and there is no communication between consciousness and the unconscious. The metaphor: unconsciousness can be found with a burial chamber, a depot, where all repressions “ES”, further injuries and bitterness, which have never been uncovered or processed, lie (ibid.).

The “ES” in Freud’s work forms the basis of the iceberg model, whose depth in the invisible

Areas, hidden. The repressed ES, which, according to Freud Ichs, encompasses their

contents, pre-conscious VBS can be, a Seitz and on the other hand, “early child oaks

Traumas” that have been hired out and become UBW. This can be compared to a metaphor “grave chamber” of the unconscious whose contents are repressed to UBS here, playing defense and resistance a big role. These repressed appointments contents could be revealed and brought into consciousness under the objection of art or techniques, psychoanalysis, and can be presented as plausible.

If one tries to uncover the unconscious, fear is in the foreground, because it wants to protect us from the painful uncovering and therefore blocks our path to the unconscious (Freud S, 1912, in Nagera H, 2007). All behaviour from the subconscious is negatively occupied for the other human being, so that all interpersonal relationships are shaped by misunderstandings, mistrust, hatred, contempt, envy, jealousy and thus a “counter to each other” develops, instead of a “co- and for each other” should be. All these negative qualities of the suppressed unconscious can be described as a metaphor: “machine of annihilation”, which is directed against any relationship. (ibid.). To the one who shows this behavior, it is neither conscious nor accessible to him, because man finds no access to his unconscious (Freud S, 1940).

For interpersonal communication this means that the relationship is threatened by affects and interpersonal relationships must therefore perish. On a larger scale, wars can also be declared. This can be explained by the current example of religious fanaticism: religious fanatics show paranoid behaviour towards the outside and due to the affects of the unconscious the inner and outer world can no longer communicate (Andrawis A, 2018).

If one wants to change this destructive-infantile behavior pattern in the world, the question arises how one can bring about such a state. Here you have to start with yourself: The readiness for critical self-reflection is a prerequisite to clear my own burial chamber (therapy) or to think about this topic. Because we know that the knowledge about this strange world or the psychoanalytic discipline is very small. But the will to change must also be there. This means having the willingness to uncover my unconscious and to recognize destructive-infantile behavior patterns that manifest themselves in the various situations as syndrome or symptom in the unconscious (ibid.).

From this depot of the burial chamber behavioural patterns are established, which are unconscious and also destructively carried to the outside. (ibid.). These have a negative influence on interpersonal relationships. During therapy and the therapeutic process there is a chance to uncover these patterns. This is done by reconstructing the biography of the patients and their intrapsychic state. The therapist’s “interpretive language” plays an important role here. Therapeutic goals are to raise the unconscious to the level of consciousness, to thematize the unconscious and to put therapeutic goals into action with the new insights (ibid.).

The “language of interpretation” is based on three steps

The three steps are:

  1. reconstruction from the biographical anamnesis of the patient or parents and grandparents. It is important to record genetic dispositions.
  2. to establish a link between the biographical anamnesis and the psychodynamics in the here and now (the existing conflict).

From the language of interpretation, the causes and development of the disease, its symptoms and connections with changes in destructive infantile behaviour patterns in interpersonal relationships are explained. How to move from this pattern of behaviour to a communicative understanding of the world, empathy, work and socially acceptable life.

This process of change is particularly important in partnerships. Then a therapeutic goal is formulated and adapted to this project.

One can also imagine this process as follows:

The therapist can be compared as a metaphor, with a diver in the ocean (ocean is to be understood as soul in its depth of the unconscious), who alone has access to the unconscious and raises single hidden repressions from the unconscious UBW via the pre-conscious VB into the consciousness BW.

If the therapist interprets the patient, the first question is whether the patient has understood the interpretation and whether it is plausible for him. If this is the case, a content was lifted from the unconscious into the unconscious. If the patient no longer deals with this content or continues to deal with it, there is a danger that the content elevated into the preconscious will sink back into the unconscious (resistance). In order for this not to happen, it requires the

Raising awareness so that the uncovering is secured and does not fall back into the unconscious again. For the achievement of the therapeutic goals, internalization is of central importance, followed by implementation. Since everything is a process, one should not despair if one suffers another setback. Because it takes time to implement new information. What is important is that you want to work on yourself and are prepared to face your repressions.

If disturbances and the symptom can be repaired, other topics are worked on at the same time and other topics such as feelings of insecurity, inferiority complexes and fear are closed and the ego strength grows.

This leads to a relief of interpersonal relationships, effective communication and a harmonious living together. Healthy communication comes about: Conversations are now characterized by clarity and purposefulness.

Difficulties encountered during the therapeutic process are the patient’s defence and resistance. The affected person is afraid, which activates the mechanisms of defense, which in turn counteract the therapeutic goals counterproductively. Here, basic trust and love play an important role. If these are injured for biographical reasons of an early Oedipal complex, the mental state regresses. Here the need for reconstruction from the patient’s biography in connection with the intrapsychic state and thus the psycho-dynamics is given (ibid.).


Freud defines regression as a defence mechanism that strengthens neurosis. It means both regression and fallback in the sense of regression as atrophy and degeneration as well as falling back on earlier phases of development. It can also represent the desire to remain a child. In imagination, regression can always be used unconsciously to overcome a difficulty. This behavior is described as a defense mechanism. Regression serves to prevent the feelings of guilt, fear and inferiority associated with failure from becoming conscious. Anxiety management and impulse defence are aimed at by temporarily withdrawing to an early childhood stage of development. Childlike substitute actions cover the conscious confrontation with burdensome contents, such as reaching for cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, in order to escape reality. Simple primitive reactions can be seen in the form of weeping, defiance and illness (ibid.).


The projection is any unconscious, destructive, infantile pattern of behavior that is carried outward. All negative qualities that a person carries with him are projected onto his fellow human beings. There is a self-delusion. One sees the other not as he is, but as one wants him to be. The affected person feels treated unfairly, “injustice” stands as a deficit in the space.

Projection can be understood as a normal psychological process as well as a complex defence mechanism. With the introjection it has a common development in the pathological meaning as externalization in the form of a shift to the outside.

One can compare it with superstition, for example: Things one does not like about oneself are projected onto the other. Foreign object representative based on traumas that happened in childhood are represented here and now by a certain person/scapegoat. The emergence of human conflicts and the attempt to resolve them will always fail due to the presence of projections. Why is that? Discussions and interpretations arise from our understanding, our ratio/consciousness. As has been mentioned, in interpersonal conflicts there is a misunderstanding because we communicate through ration, whereas the cause of the conflict is mostly in repressed traumas of the unconscious. We know that consciousness and unconscious do not communicate with each other.

Univ. Prof. Dr. Andrawis


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