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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Understanding the Impact of Trauma at Any Age

traumaSignificant trauma can cause PTSD, anxiety, grief, and depression at any age. But it can also have lasting effects even after a person has recovered. A childhood tragedy might lie dormant for many years until triggered by a similar event, person or reaction. Teenage disasters might cripple the growth of a budding adult leaving them perpetually immature. A catastrophe as an adult might spark a negative outcome of a mid-life crisis.

Understanding the overall impact of traumatic events at any age can help to identify areas of personal development that need to be addressed. Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development points out the positive and negative impact trauma can have on a person’s life. This chart below serves as a summary of his theory. Here is some basic information to consider:

  • Everyone passes through all the stages as they age. However, the success of one stage is not necessarily dependent on previous stages.
  • The important events are guidelines only and not inclusive.
  • The significant relations are generalities and can be different based on family structure.
  • Each stage has the potential for achieving either a virtue or maladaptation. For instance, the virtue of Hope is formed when Trust overrides Mistrust. The maladaptation of Withdraw is formed when Mistrust overrides Trust.
  • Trauma during any stage can cause a person to become stuck in that stage. And healing from a stage can occur any time after the stage is completed.


StageAgeImportant EventsSignificant RelationsGeneral CharacteristicsVirtueMaladaptation
Trust vs. MistrustBirth – 1 yearFeedingMaternalAre my parents trustworthy?HopeWithdraw
Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt1 – 3 yearsToilet


PaternalCan I do things


Initiative vs. Guilt3 – 6 yearsExplorationBasic FamilyAm I good or bad?PurposeCruelty
Industry vs. Inferiority6 – 12 yearsSchoolSchoolAm I


Identity vs. Role Confusion12 – 18 yearsSocial


Peer GroupsWho am I?FidelityRadicalism
Intimacy vs. Isolation18 – 34 yearsIntimate Relation-shipsFriendships SpouseShall I share my life with someone or live alone?LovePromiscuity
Generativity vs. Stagnation34 – 64 yearsWork ParenthoodWork


Will I succeed in life?CareOverextension
Ego Integrity vs. Despair65 to deathReflection on LifeHumankindHave I lived a full life?WisdomDisdain


To explain the impact further, here is an example. A five year old child endures physical abuse at the hand of an alcoholic parent. The child believes the lie that if they behaved properly, then there would be no abuse. They feel guilty for making the parent upset and occasionally are cruel to a younger sibling. As an adult, they struggle with feeling overly responsible offset by intense frustration and rage.

Healing from the initial trauma of physical abuse can minimize the impact of guilt and cruelty without excessive therapy. This can transform a negative outcome of stage three into a positive result.

Identifying the traumas at each stage allows a person to see more clearly the lasting impact of long-term suffering. The good news is that things can get better and a person can recover.


Understanding the Impact of Trauma at Any Age

Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Christine is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Qualified Supervisor by the State of Florida, a National Certified Counselor, Parent Coordination trained, a Collaborative Practitioner, Certified Family Trauma Professional, Trained Crisis Responder, and Group Crisis Intervention trained. One of the theories she subscribes to is a Family Systems Approach which believes individuals are inseparable from their relationships. .

She specializes in personality disorders (Narcissism and Borderline), trauma recovery, mental health disorders, addictions, ADD, OCD, co-dependency, anxiety, anger, depression, parenting, and marriage. She works one-on-one, in groups, or with organizations to customize relationship plans and meet the needs of her clients.

As author of the award winning book, The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook, Christine is a guest speaker at organizations and corporations.

You can connect with her at her website Grow with Christine at


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2017). Understanding the Impact of Trauma at Any Age. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 28, 2020, from