Unravelling the Connection between Trauma and Hyperdependence: Taking Steps Towards Healing

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We’ve all had moments in life where we’ve felt a sense of dependence on others, whether we’re extra vulnerable, or relying on a loved one for support. But for some people, this feeling of reliance can become an all-consuming cycle, and an indication of trauma that’s gone unchecked. It’s important to unravel the intricate connection between trauma and hyperdependence, and work towards taking steps for healing.

Decoding the link between trauma and over-reliance

When we think of trauma, it’s natural to associate it with big events such as a car accident, assault, or a natural disaster. However, trauma isn’t always tied to a single event, but a series of experiences where someone’s autonomy and sense of safety have been violated. If a person experienced a childhood with neglect, abuse, or abandonment, they may have felt powerless to defend themselves, and this can lead to a prolonged state of hyperdependence.

Hyperdependence is this intense need to depend on someone else for emotional support. It can manifest in a variety of forms, such as an over-reliance on romantic partners, compulsive texting, asking for excessive reassurance, or staying in the same job for years despite feeling unfulfilled.

A pathway to emotional recovery

The cycle of trauma and over-reliance can become a viscous loop, where a person gets stuck in a negative pattern of behavior. In order to take steps towards healing, it’s important to explore the underlying issues that are causing this pattern. This could involve talking to a loved one, or seeking out the help of a professional, such as a therapist.

In therapy, it’s possible to achieve a greater understanding of what caused the trauma, and how it triggered the development of an over-reliance on others. This insight can provide an emotional release, and give the person the strength and courage to make necessary changes to their life.

Exploring the cycle of dependence

In order to work towards transforming the cycle of trauma and hyperdependence, it’s important to explore the repetitive patterns of behavior. A therapist can help to identify key situations where the person may be putting themselves in a vulnerable position, or addressing longstanding feelings of guilt or shame. In this way, it’s possible to move towards a place of acceptance, and to learn healthier coping mechanisms for the future.

The power of reclaiming autonomy

Once these unhealthy patterns of behavior have been addressed and processed, the person can start to face the prospect of reclaiming their autonomy. This could involve revering the control of how they spend their time and energy, or changing their lifestyle to better reflect their needs and values. It’s important to remind the person that they have the power to make decisions in their life, and to take steps to create the life they want.

Unlocking potential for growth and transformation

The ultimate aim of the healing process is to work towards resolving the trauma, and unlocking potential for growth and transformation. A person may come to realise that breaking away from their hyperdependence is a form of strength, rather than a sign of weakness. With more autonomy, they can start to create more meaningful connections with themselves and others, and achieve a sense of emotional wellbeing.

Learning to recognise and work through the complex link between trauma and hyperdependence is an important part of the healing process. It’s possible to recognise the triggers and create healthier habits, which can enable a person to finally reclaim their autonomy and experience greater emotional freedom.


By unravelling the intricate connection between trauma and hyperdependence, it’s possible to start the journey towards taking steps for healing. With the help of a compassionate listener, it’s possible to identify and process the underlying issues, and to start reclaiming the power over one’s life. In this way, it’s possible to break away from the cycle of dependence and unlock potential for growth and transformation.


  • Michael Reist, PhD, The Stigma of Needing Help: Understanding Hyperdependence in Trauma Survivors, (2020)
  • Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, : Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, (2014)
  • and Maureen Palmer, : The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society, (2015)

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