by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
Our brain is biased toward making war than love. Our brainstem and lower limbic structures are always on the lookout for threat and danger. And painful memories are more easily made than pleasurable ones. This bias serves the human imperative “thou shalt not be killed.” Memories are formed, at least in large part, by glutamate (neurotransmitter) and adrenaline (hormone). Strong or intense emotional experience, aided by glutamate and adrenaline, will help long term memory formation, particularly if the emotional intensity is protracted.
When one person hurts another, intentionally or not, the injured party seeks relief. If relief is not provided in a timely manner, that hurt will likely go into long term memory. When partners ignore or dismiss injuries or make unskillful attempts at repair, the offending partner is CREATING a bad memory in the injured partner — something that will certainly come back to haunt.
Remedy: Fix, repair, make right, or do whatever is necessary to relieve an injured partner (can be a child or any other adult) FAST or as quickly as possible to keep that experience from going into long term memory. From the point of injury to the point of repair (relief) — the clock is ticking and it is ticking against both parties. An acute reaction to injury changes neurochemistry and that as mentioned can be remedied by swift repair. However, chronic reaction to injury can have deleterious effects on both brain and body. Chronic hurt (bad feelings) due to improper or non-existent repair leads to negative psychobiological consequences for both the injured and offending partner. The relationship becomes more dangerous, negative thoughts and emotions amplify and spill over to other events, and both partners immune systems take a hit.
Repair, fix, relieve your partner even if it isn’t/wasn’t your fault. The fastest wins and those who delay will lose.
Don’t just take my word for it. See for yourself and let me know.
Copyright 2012 — Stan Tatkin, Psy.D. — all rights reserved