Reasons why you don't remember your childhood trauma or have lots of memory gaps
From survival mode to protective mechanism, here are a few reasons why we don’t remember childhood trauma.
When we are brought up in dysfunctional homes, we start to absorb the childhood trauma in our body which later shows up in our adult relationships. Be it a traumatic incident or a past experience, it may happen that the brain fails to recollect the memories that the body significantly remembers. "It’s completely normal for memories of our childhood to be a bit fuzzy—after all, our brains don’t always hold onto every detail from that time. However, what’s fascinating is that even when our minds might not remember the trauma, our bodies often do," wrote Psychologist Caroline Middelsdorf. The expert further noted down a few reasons why we fail to remember trauma sometimes.
Protective mechanism: The brain has a strategy of dissociating stress, trauma and hurtful memories in order to protect itself from extreme anxiety. Sometimes due to this protective mechanism, we fail to remember our childhood trauma or face a lot of memory gaps when we try to remember the difficult times of our lives.
Neurobiological impact: Traumatic experiences can sometimes alter the functioning of the brain, leading to memory gaps. The high level of stress hormones – Cortisol – can interfere with the working of the brain and the way it encodes experiences.
Developmental: Childhood trauma happens to us at an age when the brain is still at a developing stage. Hence, sometimes the brain is not able to store the experiences as intricately as it can store adulthood events.
Survival mode: During traumatic events, we often enter into the survival mode where we narrow our focus down to the immediate threat at hand. Hence, the brain fails to focus on how to encode the experiences into long-term memory.
Defense mechanism: When we are overburdened with overwhelming thoughts, the brain uses defense mechanisms such as repression or suppression to deal with the emotions.