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March 2020

The elephant in the room: ACEs, trauma, relationship dysfunction and how to overcome it

Anyone on this forum believes in the importance of community. Underlying a strong community is the fundamental need make relationships a priority and to know how to have healthy ones.

The problem is that there are a lot of people out there that just don’t have the skills to do so. Social dysfunction begets social dysfunction. If someone grow up in an environment where people don’t know how to manage their emotions and deal with conflict in a healthy way, they will learn the wrong way to do it and perpetuate those behaviors into future relationships.

One of the most eye-opening studies that illustrates this is the ACEs study from Kaiser in the mid-90s . This 7-minute video by the study’s director Dr Vincent Felitti is a great overview of it. Nearly ⅔ of people in the study grew up with at least one adverse childhood experience (I personally had 5 of the 10 in my childhood). And this was of a population of primarily middle-class, college educated people!

If we are going to make progress on people connecting in a community, we need to start by address the root cause of the disconnection: we need to help these people confront and process their trauma and teach them the skills to build and maintain healthy relationships going forward.

This  is a great series of illustrations that sums this up well. We need to create more “warriors of love” in the world.