trauma bonding vs healing bonding

on jan 13, i was in my weekly therapy session with my therapist, philip, and he mentioned the idea of healing bonding as a counter to trauma bonding. i told him that sparked something for me and that i’d probably write about it! so here we are.

first of all, what is trauma bonding? here’s a quickly googled answer from choosing therapy:

A trauma bond is a close attachment formed between a perpetrator of abuse and the person they perpetrate against. The dramatic ups and downs of the relationship can result in a powerfully unhealthy bond. In order to survive, trauma survivors develop a keen awareness of everything their perpetrator does, says, and wants.

As a result of this prolonged intense focus on their perpetrator, the trauma survivor risks eventually disconnecting from their own sense of self, needs, and values.

i think sometimes people misuse this term and mean “a bond formed with someone with similar trauma(s).” i’m not sure if i think it’s important enough to make a clear distinction b/w the more clinical definition and this additional colloquial definition, but either way, that’s for another time.

‘cause what i want to open up here is this new (to me) idea of healing bonding. based on the trauma bonding definition, i’ll put this out there:

healing bonding: a close attachment formed between two or more people who engage in a healing process together.

even just writing that out is like… woah. cool.

trauma bonding is obviously bad because it happens in a (past or present) context of abuse. does that make healing bonding inherently good because it happens in a context of repair? maybe. i could imagine a healing bond actually getting warped out of shape by persisting for too long or with an uneven power dynamic. for example, cults might be a place where healing boding creates negative outcomes! or maybe healing bonding can even morph into trauma bonding?! who knows.

ok but to take it back to the positive for the end of this thought: i am really curious now about the place of healing bonding in life in general and in my life specifically. and what would looking at the past of my romantic relationships look like through a lens of healing bonding?

so curious!!! thanks, phil, for this spark.


update: i checked in with phil about this and to him, the clinical and colloquial definitions are both valid and it’s important to be able to differentiate between the two.

words / writing / post-processing
393w / 13min / min