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Can Trauma Change Your Personality?

Personality change signifies changes in one's acting, feeling, and thinking. Trauma can alter the main part of a person's personality.

Trauma Defined

Trauma is defined as a distressing experience that hinders someone’s coping ability and functionality. Trauma causes stress reactions, creating feelings of helplessness and terror.

Continuing stress, a life-changing event, or a one-time event can create psychological and emotional trauma. Examples include:

  • Domestic violence (continuing stress)

  • Bullying (continuing stress)

  • Childhood neglect (continuing stress)

  • Violent attack (one-time event)

  • An accident (one-time event)

  • Sudden injury (one-time event)

  • Sudden death of a loved one (life-changing event)

Extremely bad experiences can change a person. For example, personality disorders and negative personality traits can be the result of adolescent trauma.

Changes in Personality

Most psychologists believe that peoples’ experiences shape how they feel, behave, and think. They also believe that changes in someone’s circumstances will change their personality traits.

What is interesting about personality changes is that people's personalities are way more affected by very bad experiences than very good experiences. This could be because people tend to go into "survival mode" after a painful experience.

Emotional Trauma and Personality Disorders

After a traumatic event, there are dramatic shifts mentally and physically. It could be due to a single traumatic event or an ongoing feeling that something is not right. This “off” feeling is typical with child abuse survivors.


You have someone who is an extrovert and very outgoing. After some sort of trauma, this person becomes withdrawn, isolating themselves from everyone. They have anxiety and don’t like to interact with people. This individual is the opposite of who they used to be.

Trust Issues

After a traumatic event, a person can develop trust issues, becoming hypervigilance about their surroundings and people. They check their doors and windows frequently to make sure they are locked.

They are distrustful, making it hard to get and receive love. Everyone is a suspect and not to be trusted. These individuals believe that people will just get close to them so they can use them and then dump them. To protect themselves, they don’t form any relationships with anyone.

Low Self-Image

Having a low self-image, these individuals possess a deep sense of worthlessness. What makes them feel better is doing things for other people. If they aren’t doing something for others, they don’t feel any self-worth.


Resilience is the ability to deal emotionally and mentally with a traumatic event. For example, these individuals can lose their job, lose their marriage, and lose a pet in a short amount of time. They will experience negative feelings, but they will bounce back to their pre-trauma personality swiftly. People who have resilience usually don't know their strength until after dealing with some sort of trauma.

A Compassionate and Empathetic Denver Counseling Center

Trauma can be hard to deal with for anyone. Thankfully, our Denver counseling center is where you can get the help you need to get you back on track to living your best life. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.


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