Childhood Trauma: The Case of Dele Ali

The case of Dele Ali reflects how childhood trauma is registered in the body in fragmented ways and traumatic memories are never fully integrated becoming a narrative just about something that has happened to us, like other memories. Until the trauma has been accepted and assimulated. Traumatic memories are often images and flashbacks that mean that a person suffering from PTSD will not remember the traumatic incedent as just another memory, but will relive the moment as if it were happening again. During a triggering moment, PTSD sufferers are unable to explain in words their experience. This is due to the fact that the Broca are of the brain, the part that deals with language will shut down. They relive the moment through the five senses, images, textures, sounds, smells and taste.

This often prevents sufferers seeking help, because they just cant put into words how they experience their trauma explaing why a lot of trauma sufferers are wrongly diagnosed with bipolar disorder or other emotional dysregulation disorders. Often knowing what happened is not enough to cure trauma and talking about it can just seem futile offering no solution and possibly more painful experiences as traumatic memories are triggered by dialogue

Dele’s way of dealing with his traumatic childhood experience was to bury them in the deepest part of himself, a tactic also used by many combat veterans with the same level of success experienced by Dele Ali. But when you get no reprieve the only means of escape can seem to  be through alcohol or drug use to numb the self and disasociate, effectively trying to split oneself from what happened. This also occurs on an internal physiological level as communication between the rational prefrontal cortex and the emotional part of our brain, that sounds the fire alarm, is weakened. That is why you cant think or talk yourself out of trauma.

The healing process for trauma is a long and tricky road with the final goal being that the terrible things that happened to Dele Ali, that should never happen to a defenseless young child, finally become integrated into himself and come to form part of his autobiographical memory. In way learning to differentiate between what was “then” and what is “now”. What was “him” and what was “others”.

It was very brave of him to come forward and own what has happened to him, especially coming from the competetive world of prefessional football where everyone needs to show strength and boys are not encouraged to cry and where being a victim is seen as an excuse.

My total respect for him and I wish him well in his recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a traumatic event or just a feeling that no-one was there for you. You can find an English-speaking healthcare professional in the ESHA Spain business directory

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