One of the hardest leaps I had to make in understanding DP was how it's interlinked to childhood trauma… If you feel this way you're not alone. I mean, what in the hell did my childhood have to do with me smoking some pot once or twice and now I'm permanently freaked the eff out? That just ain't fair! LOL
So meet Mr & Mrs. John J. Everybody's Parents. They get busy one night and create the awesome, the powerful, the wonderful you.
Fast forward 9 months, splat you're out and swaddled in a cozy blanket, with a pink or blue hat and there ya sit rows & rows of a lovely, gurgling, cherubs - bald, toothless, with undeveloped knee caps but ready to meet the world with all your potential. But first, we got to tend to practical needs. Humans are arrogant. We think we're better than any other animal on the plant so we don't associate ourselves readily by instinctual needs and its fair assumption. The more we grow the more independent we are and think. But at first we're no different than any other mammal. We're helpless.
So here you are ready and waiting for John and Mary to cootchie your coo and respond to your needs. But in your present state your ability to communicate is limited. So you do what any self respecting baby would do..you cry. You cry cause you're hungry, you cry cuz you're tired, You cry when you have a tummy ache, you cry cuz your teething, you cry cuz you have gas, you cry cuz you crapped yourself and you cry cuz your scared.
Then you wait.
Now a normal John J Everyone's parents should com'a running. They pick you up, change you, give you a bottle or medicine and sooth you. They tell you "Shh… it's okay Mommy and Daddy is here." And the crisis of helplessness has been abated and the feeling of being safe in a new world has been restored or clarified. Now when they are consistent with this behavior it teaches our little bald friend its first three powerful lessons. 1. I am attached to my caregivers and therefore attached to myself. 2. I can depend on my caregivers to meet my needs and 3. The world is a safe place and I'm ok in it.
The basic need for a sense of safety acts as a foundation for the child to move onto it's next phase in this development.
This attachment to John & Mary has another vantage point too for our friend: Mirroring. Mirroring tells baby baldness just who he is and it teaches him how to regulate his emotions.
But what happens to our cherub when John J Everyone's parent doesn't come'a running?
Maybe they show up when they feel like it?
Maybe when they show up baby is conflicted because he both needs they but is also afraid of them?
Maybe they ignore him (or her).
Maybe they stick them in closet, or intentionally harm them?
Maybe they were ill or died and just stop coming.
What happens to baby baldness then?
Well he's a baby and doesn't understand why no one is coming to meet his needs. Who does he depend on now? Who's going to pick him up? Feed him? Rock him? Sooth him? Mind you, baby can't put those needs into words they only know how they feel. So inevitably when their basic needs aren't met they are left with a sense of calamity and that calamity becomes fear and that fear sparks outright panic. Now again, when John & Mary are consistent with this behavior over time it also teaches our cute bald guy 3 powerful lessons: 1. I don't feel attached because no one is attaching to me. 2. I can't depend on my caregivers to meet my needs and 3. The world is not a safe place and I'm not ok in it.
This interruption or lack of meeting this basic need innate to all humans for safety acts too as a foundation but that the foundation isn't a solid one for our poor friend. Which moves him into the next stage of his development severely disadvantaged.
Staying with poor baby with the sucky parents. What does he do with that panic when it's in full swing? He's a baby. He can't sooth himself? He has no kneecaps to get himself up to get away, he can't call 911, he's stuck. WHAT DOES HE DO WITH THE PANIC? Well he acts on instinct because that the only resource he has available to him and is innate to all animals when in imminent danger. When fear grips us but we have no means to escape. We need an escape without escape.
He disconnects as a method to cope.
Both of these models are ridiculously generalized and should by no means be used as the gospel truth to childhood development. I merely mean to provide you with basic idea of how DP can traced to childhood trauma and just how it presents itself as a solution when life's challenges become more than we can bear.
Believe it or not, the attachment lessons learned within the first three years of life stay with us for life. And they become what John Bowlby describes as an "internal working model" for all relationships going forward. I don't call it that but I do believe we use it.
To me, it's an imprint about you, how you feel and how you believe people will treat you your whole life. When the foundation is shaky you don't have a good sense of who you are to begin with and then add the severity of mistreatment that is reinforced over time or as you further develop. This will increase your ability to use this first natural instinct to disconnect to solve problems within yourself and is likely to contribute to someone staying chronically disconnected.