Bonding After A Traumatic Event

By: Michael Appleman, M.S.

During the first few hours after a disastrous experience, fire, plane crash, automobile crash or other disasters, the individual's survival depends mostly on professionals-doctors, nurses and technicians. Not unexpectedly survivors find themselves bonding immediately to those who have taken part in saving their life. This type of human bonding is the mother/infant union. It has been seen that any relationship between a helpless person and helping a person can work.


Human bonding during traumatic and/or emotional times in a person's life can quietly work miracles. Emotionally bonding can be more positive then negative. It can leave little or no harmful side-effects. The emotional calmness that results from bonding can create a balanced physiological state in which our body's organs and their hormones function in healthy synchronization. In this type of situation, bonding differs entirely from love. Love thrives on both words and actions. Love excites; bonds and heals. There are important reasons why every burn survivor should keep this difference in mind.

Assume that a significant love relationship begins to deteriorate while an individual is still suffering burn trauma. Frequent reactions include anger, resentment. unfaithfulness, revenge, depression or feelings of abandonment. Most people feel that the opposite of love is hate. That can cause a major war. It is best to see the opposite of love as unresponsiveness or apathy. Eventually, when your emotions have made the change to the other side, a person usually stops caring. This creates coldness.


When the partners in a bonded relationship are no longer "in touch"; one has moved away, you might expect the feelings of friendship to trigger a friends feelings and their willingness to take part in the burn survivor's recovery. That does not always happen. Many people cannot deal with the pain and changes that have come about. They keep away from the situation in order to help themselves. When a parent, spouse, doctor, nurse, or fellow burn survivor, anyone to whom you had bonded with during your initial recovery, is no longer part of your everyday life the burn survivor can become emotionally unstable.

In its exciting and emotional appearance, love brings enthusiasm and joy-along with risks. Ask yourself is it love or bonding that quietly cultivates and maintains both partners? Remember that love makes the world go round and bonding keeps love and the individuals in balance.