The Psychological Trauma of Divorce

Divorce can occur for multiple reasons. Some of the most common causes of divorce are abuse, adultery, and general cruelty. All of these causes, along with the aftermath of divorce, can create serious psychological trauma for some.

Psychological trauma occurs when an event overwhelms, stresses, or scares an individual so much so that it prevents them from fully coping with his or her emotions and leaves them fearful and emotionally scarred.

Trauma occurs most often when the following factors are present:
• The event was unexpected
• The individual was powerless to prevent the event
• The intentional cruelty of another person exhibited during the event
• The event occurred during childhood

These factors are frequently seen in divorce and affect every individual involved, including the divorcer (the person requesting the divorce), the divorcee (the individual being divorced from), as well as the children of the individuals getting divorced.

For the divorcer, the divorce process can be psychologically traumatic because, depending on their significant other’s personality, he or she could take the divorce harshly and become angry, cruel, or abusive. If the individual is requesting the divorce because of a dysfunctional, unhealthy marriage, they may experience the brunt of the traumatic experience.

For the divorcee, divorce can be psychologically traumatic because if unexpected, the individual could feel shocked and powerless to the event. The divorcee could also feel personally betrayed by their significant other, leaving confusion, pain, and deep, emotional scarring.

For the children of the parents getting divorced, this can be considered the most traumatic of all the experiences. The child could feel powerless to his or her parents’ separation and wonder if he or she was the cause of the divorce. The child may experience a very hard time coping with being separated from one of the parents, which could ultimately lead to separation anxiety. The pre-divorce period may also be psychologically traumatic because of the poor home-life conditions. These conditions can leave long-term affects on the child, such as:
• Depression
• Trouble in school
• Trouble with the law
• Difficulty in relationships

If you or someone you know has had a divorce and could be suffering from psychological trauma, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Psychiatry Department can help. For more information, please call 718-206-8437.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.