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Different Types of Trauma and How They Correlate to Sex Addiction

One eye stares into the camera with a tear dropping from the corner

Understanding the different types of trauma that can lead to an intimacy disorder is integral for healing. 

Until recently, the scientific community understood addictions to be entirely within a person’s control, something worthy of shame and ridicule. It is now commonly accepted that trauma can predispose you to addiction.

ACEs vary widely and look different for every person. One way to figure out whether or not you are predisposed to addiction is to take a simple, ten-question self-evaluation to determine your ACE score.

While this brief assessment may prove helpful, understanding the different types of trauma that can cause this predisposition is also critical. 

What Are the Different Types of Trauma? 

There are many different types of trauma, the majority of which happen before our 18th birthday. These ACEs can cause your brain to develop differently as a response to trauma. 


Acute trauma is one of the different types of trauma and is just as it sounds—a single traumatic event or occurrence. While almost every person has suffered some form of acute trauma, those who survived ACEs may experience emotional dysregulation afterward.

Common types of acute trauma include:

  • A natural disaster
  • A terrorist attack or event
  • A vehicular accident
  • The sudden or expected loss of a loved one or pet

When you experience acute trauma, your brain goes into self-preservation mode. This mode can cause non-survival systems to “go offline” until the event is over, leaving you to process it afterward. That is a process driven by endorphins, which become activated to allow you to escape or survive a dangerous situation.

Commonly, acute trauma reactions can manifest after the fact in ways similar to:

  • An unreasonable lack of trust in others
  • Difficulty having restful sleep or difficulty sleeping at all
  • Irritability, rage, or anger
  • Excessive anxiety and panic
  • Feeling disassociated or disconnected from others or your surroundings 


One of the different types of trauma is chronic trauma. Chronic trauma can either be an accumulation of acute traumatic events or ongoing trauma in your surrounding environment.

Instances of chronic trauma include:

  • Ongoing sexual abuse
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Long-term serious illnesses
  • Domestic violence
  • War

Those who have experienced chronic trauma may show similar symptoms as acute trauma. Some chronic trauma manifestations include flashbacks, unpredictable emotional outbursts, fatigue, nausea, and several other somatic symptoms.


Complex trauma is usually the result of intrapersonal distress, like between a primary caregiver and a child. As one of the different types of trauma, complex trauma is a variety of events that happen over a long period that can cause severe psychological and emotional distress. 

Those who have suffered from complex traumas such as domestic violence, childhood neglect, severe civil unrest, or other similar events may experience lifelong and debilitating symptoms. 

An electric-colored rendering of the brain, with the amygdala highlighted in red
The amygdala is where memories, emotional imprints, attachments, and attachment responses are stored. The amygdala is the fuse box of the brain.

How Adverse Childhood Experiences Directly Correlate to Sex Addiction 

Different types of trauma have dramatic impacts on our development. When we are young, we rely on our caregivers for attunement, nourishment, safety, and education about regulating emotions. 

Neurobiological Consequences of ADEs

Firstly, you must understand what the amygdala is.

The amygdala is where you store memories and imprints of emotions (like fear), attachments, and responses to attachments. The amygdala is like an emotional fuse box. When you experience a healthy attachment or feeling, your brain learns and stores that information and forms a neural pathway.

The amygdala is also part of your limbic system, commonly referenced for the fight or flight response.

When you experience danger or different types of trauma, your amygdala comes online and decides how to survive a threat.

Suppose you experience adversity, violence, or other traumatic events when you’re growing up. In that case, your brain learns that you are unsafe in the home or your environment. These feelings of danger cause a release of a stress hormone in the brain that causes the hippocampus, the area responsible for learning and memory, to shrink. 

These different types of trauma and traumatic experiences also impact the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making skills.

Growing up in an unhealthy or threatening environment rewires your brain.

With all of these neurological consequences, it is essential to realize that these ACEs lead you to be more predisposed to sex and porn addiction.

ADEs and Sex Addiction

There are many healthy coping mechanisms such as meditation, yoga, and exercise. However, you may have learned from your childhood environment and the different types of trauma you may have experienced, how to cope through other means.

One of the first things we have control over and genuine interest in is pleasure, specifically sexual pleasure. Since it is readily accessible and always there for you when you want it, you turn to masturbation or other self-pleasure forms to feel better. 

Doing this can cause an unintentional link between negative and traumatic experiences and your sexual desire or drive. Learning to self-soothe through pleasure is one of the critical hallmarks of sex addiction. It can quickly spiral out of control. 

Self-soothing via pleasure may be your only natural defense. Perhaps it is the only means of self-soothing regularly available to you. Therefore, it only makes sense that it would become something that you develop a reliance on when experiencing different types of trauma. You may also turn to alcohol, drugs, or other addictive substances to self-soothe.

How Begin Again Institute Can Help With Different Types of Trauma and Sex Addiction 

At the Begin Again Institute, we understand that trauma is often the basis of sex addiction. Our trauma-focused team will work with you step-by-step. You will gain a greater understanding of the different types of trauma, what trauma you experienced, and how trauma causes sex addiction.

During our 14-Day Men’s Intensive, we use various treatment modalities such as group-therapy, brainspotting, EMDR, and CBT. We can help you recall, understand, and recover from your ACEs and lead a life sober from your addiction. 

Healing all begins with accepting help and education.

When you’re ready to take your first step, try reading the TINSA® book written by Richard Barta, founder of the Begin Again Institute. 

  • Category: Sex Addiction
  • By Ryan Pryor
  • March 31, 2021

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