Trauma Dumping

Having to listen to someone’s ‘trauma’ regularly despite the discomfort? Experts told the way to handle

What is trauma dumping?

‘Trauma dumping’ is not a severe mental disorder as per many experts. Saikat Vaidya, doctor-professor at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, clarified, ‘Trauma dumping is not a clinical term. Manuals for psychiatric diagnoses do not mention this. However, ‘trauma dumping’ is fast emerging, as one of the problematic aspects of lifestyle but hopefully, it will not be difficult at all to handle. We need some awareness. For that, it is necessary to understand what exactly is ‘trauma dumping.’ Trauma dumping is the act of sharing all of one’s traumatic experiences with another person at once. This can occur among coworkers, acquaintances, or on social media, but it is most common in close relationships.

Simply put, when a person or a ‘Dumper’ goes on detailing their ‘trauma’ without regard to the listener’s situation, interest, or reaction, it is called ‘trauma dumping.’ For example, losing a job without any warning, the sudden death of a loved one, losing everything in a natural disaster or feeling cheated in a close relationship. When a person continues to talk about such experiences without considering the audience’s circumstances, likes and dislikes, and reactions, it is called ‘trauma dumping.’ In the words of ‘National Institute of Behavioral Sciences’ Consultant Psychiatrist Kedarranjan Banerjee, In this case, the speaker keeps talking about the incident without considering the listener’s situation. He/she does not give any opportunity to the one who is listening. However, some traumas can make the listener feel bad, too. According to experts, in general, ‘trauma dumping’ has specific characteristics. For example,

  • During the conversation, the person who talks about the ‘trauma’ is the main speaker.
  • The speaker tries to give a detailed and uncomfortable account of his experience.
  • The speaker does not care about the listener’s reaction or the effect this description has on him.
  • The audience, as well as others, feel uneasy about the matter.
  • The speaker feels some ‘lack of control’ while speaking
  • In general, the speaker gives much more information than what is supposed to be provided. It is called ‘oversharing’.
  • Intense discomfort or anxiety develops in the listener. He/she wants to avoid
  • The listener may also remember some old uncomfortable memories and the burden of the mind may increase.

What to do?

Many of us may have had this kind of experience. Pourbi Chowdhury, Assistant Professor, and Clinical Psychologist of the Institute of Psychiatry, thinks that the responsibility, in this case, is on both the speaker and the audience.

In her words, the concerned person may overlook the matter while dumping Trump. But later, he/she had to understand why he/she behaved like this. The speaker needs to understand what exactly caused him/her to behave like this, whether anger or sadness or any other emotion acted as a trigger for trauma dumping, and then, he/she has to focus on controlling that emotion.’ Apart from this, the ‘dumper’ has to take care of some other factors as well, said Pouravi.

The speaker should follow a few things including:

  • Before starting a conversation, ask the listener if he/she is willing to listen. Seeking the permission of the listener is essential.
  • It is important to know how much personal trauma experiences can be shared with strangers, family members, and friends.
  • If the intensity of the ‘trauma’ becomes too much to bear, a visit to a therapist may also be considered.

Besides, the person who is ‘dumpy’ also has some responsibility, said Psychologist Chowdhury. According to him, there is usually some helplessness behind ‘trauma dumping.’ The listener should keep this in mind. In this way, the ‘Dumpy’ can handle the ‘Dumper’ with some understanding despite the irritation and discomfort. In this case, the first thing to remember is that no social status should be imposed on the person concerned, said psychiatrist Chowdhury.

But at the same time, psychologist Saikat Vaidya gave ‘Dumpy’ some tips to balance his/her mental health. For example,

  • When the word ‘trauma’ comes up, you can humbly say, ‘I’m not in a good position to hear the conversation you’re having, or I do not have enough time on my hands right now.’
  • Many times, many people talk about ‘trauma’ repeatedly to get close to someone. In these cases, ‘trauma dumping’ can act as a weapon of ‘manipulation.’ In all such situations, the ‘dumper’ must be made aware that no more time can be given to him. The listener needs to remove himself/herself wisely, not harshly.
  • If a person is unable to cope with the impact of ‘trauma’ on their own, they may also be advised to seek professional help.

Psychologist Kedarranjan Banerjee says, ‘When sharing a trauma, it is best not to interrupt. It can make the speaker very upset. Rather, it is important to express the listener’s feelings at times so that he understands what you are saying. But I have nothing to do.’

Important to remember

Psychologist Pourbi Chowdhury said ‘Usually, there is a one-sided urge to share incident comes from an inability to cope with ‘trauma’ and its associated emotional shock. If the concerned person is shunned violently, there is a risk of his/her problem increasing. Therefore, it will be helpful to create awareness in the speaker and it is necessary to ask for professional help if required. But using words like ‘dumper’ or ‘trauma dumping’ needs to be avoided.’

What is the difference between ‘dumping’ and ‘sharing’?

Psychologists suggest keeping two main points in mind.

  • Whoever is talking about ‘trauma,’ are they willing to consider an alternative solution to the problem? Are they interested in hearing about it? Or are they just talking about their purpose?
  • ‘Sharing’ is one of the well-known techniques of human social interaction. Joy-sadness-anger can all be present in such a method. Usually, it is bilateral. However, in ‘dumping,’ the speaker does not give importance to any statement of his/her listener. It is a form of one-way ‘communication.’

It is easy to understand the difference between dumping and sharing by looking at these two things. There has not been much research on this lifestyle issue. Therefore, the reason for this tendency is still not very clear. However, psychologists say that since the epidemic, the research on this topic has increased. At that time, the process of sharing ‘trauma’ was increased due to the lockdown. There is also a growing tendency on social media to share highly personal and shocking information, even with strangers. However, psychiatrists do not rule out the possibility of some mental disorders being connected with it. According to psychiatrist Kedarranjan Banerjee, ‘Such problems may be associated with certain personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder. It is also related to post-traumatic stress disorder. People with severe depression can also have this problem. According to his experience, such issues are seen almost equally in men and women. It is a very new type of problem so more research is needed to understand the cause.

This news is a creative derivative product from articles published in famous peer-reviewed journals and Govt reports:

1. What Even Is Trauma Dumping?

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