Being treated as irrelevant by family members – attachment bears witness to ongoing patterns of trauma, or abuse – creates another kind of psychological pattern. People are identified with questions such as “What have I done wrong?” Or “What could I have done differently?” This becomes the central prejudice of his life.
Important factors are what those challenges are, and what age they occur. Character builds in the first 10 to 14 years of life. These years are the most important, and the earlier a real trauma occurs, the more lasting effects usually occur. As people get older, they become more independent agents and can tolerate more rejection, more emotional pain.
Most children do not live through at least one experience that they later consider painful or severely challenging?
Yes. Most people’s lives are very challenging, and major conflicts with family members are not out of the ordinary. Getting rejected by your in-laws – This is not uncommon, of course, and it does not matter how prominent you are or whether you live in a palace. A major issue in the couple’s relationship then becomes whether someone’s spouse chooses to side with you or their family.
Can the same experience that enhances the life of one child have a small impact on the life of another child?
Yes. People have very different impulses, very different reactions to the same challenges. But your attachment system – who you relate to, who knows you, who loves you, who you play with – is more fundamental than trauma. As long as people feel safe with people in their immediate environments, in their families, tribes or soldiers, they are surprisingly resilient.
Risking or giving those bonds, as Harry did, is a very deep step. The default state, psychologically, is to adjust your behavior and expectations to fit in with the original family. It takes a lot of courage to change those relationships and create new and more fruitful engagements.