Some of the most unhappy stories on the Internet are totally real to the writers, but still reflect distorted thinking. Think, for example, of people who allege that their plastic surgeons destroyed their lives, ruined their relationships with families and friends, made them ugly, or were monsters that treated them cruelly.
Certainly not all surgeons or all human beings are perfect, but it is hard to imagine how a cosmetic operation, even an inexpert one could destroy a life; yet this is how it seems to those patients.
This type of thinking is not unique to physician reviews: you can read it in reviews of restaurants, resorts, or even package deliveries. Why?
Childhood trauma creates messages of shame, inadequacy, or superiority in children that mercilessly lurch forward into adulthood. The way all life experiences appear to survivors of childhood trauma can be distorted into melodramas where the survivor is the victim — once again — and the physician or the restaurateur is another childhood perpetrator. Thus any relationship with traumatized patients becomes complicated by the way they can replay mistrust, dependency, love, and hate in ways that are irrelevant to the adult experience. The unifying theme is that some wounded patients do not behave like functional adults. It is not entirely their fault.
These are not conscious processes nor rational ones, and are not easily treated by “talk therapy.” The most effective solution requires accessing the memories and thought processes instilled in childhood and allowing the survivor to “re-parent” himself or herself, and reconstruct healthy thinking that will make life so much more enjoyable.
All these complex matters are covered in a very understandable way in my new book, Childhood Abuse, Body Shame, and Addictive Plastic Surgery: The Face of Trauma, now available at all sellers.