"Trauma and our responses to it cannot be understood outside the context of human relationships. Whether people have survived an earthquake or have been repeatedly sexually abused, what matters most is how those experiences affect their relationships -- to their loved ones, to themselves and to the world. The most traumatic aspects of all disasters involve the shattering of human connections. And this is especially true for children. Being harmed by the people who are supposed to love you, being abandoned by them, being robbed of the one-on-one relationships that allow you to feel safe and valued and to become humane -- these are profoundly destructive experiences. Because humans are inescapably social beings, the worst catastrophes that can befall us inevitably involve relational loss.
"As a result, recovery from trauma and neglect is also all about relationships -- rebuilding trust, regaining confidence, returning to a sense of security and reconnecting to love. Of course, medications can help relieve symptoms and talking to a therapist can be incredibly useful. But healing and recovery are impossible -- even with the best medications and therapy in the world -- without lasting, caring connections to others. Indeed, at heart it is the relationship with the therapist, not primarily his or her methods or words of wisdom, that allows therapy to work. All the children who ultimately thrived following our treatment did so becasue of a strong social network that surrounded and supported them.
"What healed children like Peter, Justin, Amber and Laura were the people around them, their families, their friends, the folks who respected them, who were tolerant of their weaknesses and vulnerabilities and who were patient in helping them slowly build new skills. Whether it was the coach who allowed Ted to keep team statistics, Mama P. who helped teach Virginia how to nurture Laura, the first graders who took Peter under their wing and protected him, or the incredible adoptive parents of so many of my patients -- all of them provided the most important therapy that these children ever received. Because what they needed most was a rich social environment, one where they could belong and be loved" (Bruce D. Perry, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook, 2006, pp. 231-32).