You are misusing the term trauma bonded to describe your work


Recently, a former Starbucks barista on TikTok described her work experience as “lowkey” just “trauma bonding.” From dealing with “Karens” to tackling multiple drink orders or receiving requests like a breakfast sandwich as a “toasted extra,” there’s no doubt that, as the Guardian previously reported, many Starbucks employees have struggled to work. in a busy environment that is understaffed whilst facing verbal abuse from customers. But is it technically “trauma bonding”?

Describing a workplace as a “trauma bond” isn’t unique to this TikTok video. The #traumabonding hashtag on TikTok has 206.2 million views. Another popular TikTok that recently went viral showed Kelly Ripa saying “work friends are key to your health,” to which a TikTocker chimes in and says, “It’s called trauma bonding.” In the comments section, people note that “the worse the job, the better the friends.” Over the past five years, the search term “trauma bonding” has steadily increased in Google searches.

The term “trauma bond” was first coined by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D., the founder of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP), in 1997. In the paper, Carnes used it to describe the bond that forms between an abuser and a non-abuser that creates a dysfunctional attachment style.


“What we see is a very compelling attachment to people who have hurt clients,” Carnes explained. “Clients may even blame themselves, their shortcomings, their failed efforts. Clients struggle to do better as their lives slip by amidst all the intensity.”

Carnes said this “highly addictive attachment” to the abuser is very likely to manifest itself in domestic violence, dysfunctional marriages, religious abuse, cults, and workplace exploitation. Today, therapists argue that “trauma bonding” is most commonly used in clinical settings when referring to domestic abuse and that it is misleading to use it as a way to describe a bonding that occurs in the workplace under capitalism.

Want more health and science stories in your inbox? Sign up for Salon The Vulgar Scientist’s weekly newsletter.

“Trauma bonding is what happens when a person has been in an abusive relationship and feels the need to return to the relationship, even if it has been severely abused,” Dr. Joy Berkheimer, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) told Salon . “They’re in this cycle of the person who basically professes their love and keeps them coming back, even if they’ve been mistreated, even if they’ve been treated badly.”

“Trauma bonding is what happens when a person has been in an abusive relationship and feels the need to get back into the relationship.”

Berkheimer said that when this happens, a person’s body goes into a “withdrawal,” as if a person were addicted to a drug. “Your body is almost telling you, the pain will go away if we get just one more shot,” Berkheimer said. “Your body is reacting so strongly.” Berkheimer added one difference between trauma bonding and Stockholm syndrome, which is when a victim identifies and empathizes with her captor or abuser, is that the person experiencing trauma bonding knows they are surviving the abuse. “It’s so obvious on your face that it’s dangerous to be there,” he said.

Psychologist Dr. Carla Manly, clinical psychologist and author of “Joy From Fear,” told Salon that the misuse of the term “trauma bonding” is an unintended consequence of heavy use of social media, where people they tend to casually throw out mental health diagnoses and even provide ways to “diagnose yourself.”


“Unfortunately, the tendency to overuse or misuse terms like ‘traumatic bonding’ dilutes the meaning and importance of serious mental health issues,” Manly said. “For example, when people on TikTok casually mention being ‘trauma bonded’ to their co-workers due to work issues, they unknowingly use a term intended to describe a relationship in which a victim is bonded with a perpetrator who engaged in repeated and cyclical abuse.”

Indeed, Manly pointed out that a trauma-related victim can become “deeply attached to the abuser in ways that defy rationality,” perhaps not someone who would go ahead and vent on social media.

“The tendency to overuse or misuse terms like ‘traumatic bonding’ dilutes the meaning and significance of serious mental health issues.”

Berkheimer said people likely use the term to describe a state of survival from something like how people have survived the pandemic. “But that’s not quite the clinical definition of trauma bonding,” she said. “I guess you might be closer if you all have to survive something together, you all have to watch something heinous, but that’s not the clinical terminology for that.”

There is a sociological term to describe the bond people feel after surviving a disaster, such as a fire or a hurricane, and how those affected often feel a unique sense of togetherness that they don’t feel in everyday life, which usually results in an abundance of altruistic behavior. This collective sense of belonging can become something people remember years later, despite being set against the backdrop of a horrific tragedy. This is called limited solidarity, and sociologists attribute its origins to the “Communist Manifesto” of the German philosopher Karl Marx.

But in terms of the workplace trauma bond, therapists see it on equal footing with people who misuse the word “depressed,” “anxious,” or “trauma.”

“As with other terms like ‘depression’ and ‘trauma’ that are often misused or abused, frivolous use of serious psychological terms hurts our appreciation and ability to support those truly suffering from mental health issues,” she said Manly. “While popular culture is not intended to denigrate or demean those with mental health issues, it is important for society as a whole to realize the significant downside of using serious mental health terms lightly and loosely.”


to know more

on mental health

#misusing #term #trauma #bonded #describe #work

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You May Also Like