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The things that cause us psychological damage aren't always the things people expect, and some events can be way more traumatic than you might think. This is especially true of things that happen to us as children.

Reddit user Zutroy2117 asked the folks on AskReddit:

"What's a lot more psychologically-damaging than people seem to think it is?"


I'm gonna go with poverty. It's insanely expensive and stressful to be poor and the sort of thinking that allows you to survive when you're poor kind of messes you up once you aren't. I know people who WILL NOT fill their car to the top even though they could absolutely afford to. The logic is when you're struggling, you only put enough in to get around for the week or so because you'll be kicking yourself if you get to the day before pay and have no money and no food but half a tank of fuel.


This. Poverty also doesn't end when you simply have more money. It sticks with you when you hang out with people that grew up well-off, who never had to worry, making you feel like a muggle-born. It drives you to compare prices at the restaurant even if somebody else treats you to dinner. It makes you fear to lose your job or your appartment because you know your status hangs by a thread and you can fall down again.


Bad Parenting

Bad parents


Even if they “tried their best” to be good parents. Unintentionally being a bad parent can be just as bad. See “emotional neglect.”


I totally agree with you. My grandpa visited me recently and we talked about my mom. He thought she was a good mother until I told him how she always told me that I'm not good enough because of my weight. Also everything I did was wrong in her eyes so everytime I tried to stand up for myself she said "I gave you life, I can also take it from you." I always thought every parent says something like that to their child. My Grandpa told me that it's not and now I don't want to know what else I thought was "normal" when it clearly isn't.


We Need To Communicate

When parents use the silent treatment. It makes a child feel so helpless because it knows instinctively that its life depends on its parent‘s care. So if you stop any interaction with your child, it will feel life threatening to it, causing the child to loose its personality just to behave like the parents want it to. Which later will turn in an overly adjusted adult with mental problems.


Silent withdrawal really messes your mind because you spend all your energy trying to get the person to engage or figure out what you did wrong.


It’s not just damaging when parents do it to children.

It’s also an incredibly damaging thing to do to a partner or friend. It elicits the same reaction you’d get from a child, a feeling of helplessness, lack of care, confusion, and deep fear. It can make even a confident adult feel worthless, unloved, unwanted, etc.

It’s not something anybody should do to anyone else, especially someone they care about.


Unrealistic Expectations

When a parent makes their child terrified of failure. Yes, it’s good to instill that one always tries their best— but I was told basically from kindergarten that if I ever got a bad grade on literally ANYTHING EVER at ANY point in my academic career, I would only be able to work in fast food. If I ever brought home anything less than a “B+” my mom would make sure to spend the next week telling me I was gonna spend my life “flipping burgers”. It really did a number on me and left me without coping skills for many years— so any time I failed in life in any way (not just academically) I would be SUPER hard on myself for extended periods which led to extremely negative self talk and eventual self harm. Hate ya, mom.


The first time I came home with a B on my report card, my grandparents had to kick out my parents because my mom would NOT stop laying into me. I was in third grade, I think? I had always had straight As and my mom refused to let me do any less. That meant crying in front of either parent when I didn't understand a math question and they'd berate me saying that I'm better than this and know better.

I absolutely detest how I grew up. I went from loving school to finding it something dangerous and something I hated. Any form of effort meant I wasn't as good as I was supposed to be and I'd shut down. When you know you're berated for anything below perfection, knowing you can't achieve that perfection is the fastest way to tanking your grades. Took me years to get out of that mentality.


Bullies Suck


Whilst some people see beginning to pull through with the awareness of the issue, there are still many who don't think it can cause much harm.


Bullying f**ked me up more than anything else in my childhood - learning in your formative years that you can't trust your peers, people want to hurt you, and that anyone who could stop it either doesn't care or doesn't believe you... well, that severely f**ks up your social development.

I ended up being a late bloomer and getting it figured out but it still makes me sad when I think about how scared and alone I was as a child. Nowhere was safe and I was so vulnerable.

To make it worse bullying doesn't stop in childhood. There are grown *ss people who will bully the people around them and it's always treated like a silly issue when the victims speak out.

I wish we started treating bullying as socially unacceptable as we currently treat speaking out against it.


Sibling bullying too. When I was around 10 I told a teacher my sister was bullying me, she rang home and both my mum and sister were completely disbelieving that I’d think I was being bullied. And yeah, I mean she was only hitting me, calling me names, breaking my stuff, threatening me, throwing rocks at me, constantly making me cry, ganging up on me with her friends, calling me insults about my face / race / personality every day…


And friend bullying, I'm 26 and only just realised that all my "friends" in high school weren't just teasing me but were full on bullying me, which also explains the panic attacks and the constant feeling that people hate me unless I'm useful.


All In My Head

A person's own thoughts


I can't believe this isn't upvoted more than it is. This reminds me of a phrase by Henry Ford that says "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." A person's own thoughts are often the downfall because the lack of self-belief seeps into the actions taken by the person causing negative or unwanted actions to be taken.


Life's End

End-of-life care and seeing someone die. Anyone who's looked after a loved one in their last days will tell you it's nothing like you see in media. My grandmother died of cancer in June 2020 and I was able to act as one of her primary caretakers during her last three months while I was home from school, doing my degree online.

Sickness took away her strength and her autonomy. The grandma I decorated a Christmas tree with shortly after her diagnosis could barely walk three months later. Even hospice care at home is only so comfortable. She had bedsores that put her through horrible pain and spent her last months sitting in the same armchair for most of the day. Myself, my mother and her brothers rotated staying with her constantly because she needed two people's help to use her bedside commode. She often needed an oxygen machine, and it always scared the daylights out of me when it was all she could do to even choke out the word 'oxygen' or point to the machine because she couldn't breathe.

And of course, as visceral as life in hospice is, it doesn't prepare you for finding your loved one dead. Dead bodies don't just look like they're asleep. Blood pools, creating bruise-like spots and waxy skin in other places. Muscles twitch and relax and bowels loosen. Side note: mortuary makeup artists do not get the credit they deserve for putting life back on your loved one's face for their funerals.

But yeah. Definitely hard to do hospice care for someone you love. I have a lot of respect for the nurses who do it for a living, especially the ones who helped us with my grandmother at a critical stage in the pandemic.



Cheating. Specifically multi-year lying and gaslighting, leading the person to question their own self-worth and value.

Just be honest and not a sh*t human. If you have fear of the reaction to your honesty, seek help and support from authorities and friends.

No one deserves to be cheated on. Doing so is a selfish, intentional action to harm someo ne


Relatable... I became a completely different person after a relationship with an emotionally abusive person.

I get incredibly anxious in any form of new relationship now (both romantic and other) and it’s almost a daily struggle to be ‘normal’ or confident in any decisions I make. I don’t trust my gut on anything and think constantly in the mindset of worst case scenarios/how to plan for them. It’s really f**ked me up (and this is with ongoing therapy)


Back In My Day

Parents or just any elder authority figure saying “I had it worse than you”. It’s a cognitive bias in the first place, they belittle the less experienced person’s feelings because they are using their current mindset/understanding to look at the less experienced person’s problem. Of course a child’s math test would look easier to you than your own university level math tests. Using this evaluation of ease, they then claim that it’s easier now than before.

It invalidates the difficult feelings/emotions/thoughts/experiences anyone can face. What’s worse, it’s often so that the elder authority figure can feel better about themselves whilst also mistakenly believing that it would encourage the target to work harder or feel better.


Don't Talk About My Body

Any comment or unwanted remark about physical appearance or personality. Sh*t hurts.


Jokes Aren't Always Funny

Jokes, jokes can have such an impact on people, positive and negative, i talk from experience, but not as the receiver, becuase i actually told jokes to people, that mightve made them feel bad, and i am very sorry about that.

Please think before you talk


Good on you for being willing to admit that you were wrong


The things that cause psychological trauma aren't always the kinds of things you might expect. If someone tells you something was traumatic, believe them.

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