Vulnerability in Facing the Covid-19 Pandemic in the Light of Relational Trauma

Barbara Simonič, Christian Gostečnik, Tanja Repič Slavič, Saša Poljak Lukek, Robert Cvetek, Tanja Pate, Tanja Valenta


Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed different ways individuals react to frustrations they have experienced. Many times we have witnessed an increased level of aggression in interpersonal relationships and in the general social context. We find that there are some differences in coping and responding according to gender, with men showing a higher level of vulnerability and risk of inappropriate regulation and expression of anger when frustrated. To a certain extent, the answer to why this happens is provided by neuroscientific research, which shows that already at an early age, boys’ brains develop differently from girls’, as it takes more time to develop their stress-regulating mechanism; consequently, due to slower development, boys are more vulnerable to early stressful situations and have more problems with self-regulation of affective states at this early age. Together with the possibility of relational trauma in the family, to which many children are exposed from the earliest period of their lives and which plays an important role in providing a context for the development of affect regulation, that means that boys and men are even more vulnerable and sensitive to stress, aggression and trauma later in life. It makes sense to take these neuroscience findings into account when building an understanding of responses to stressful challenges, such as coping with a pandemic, as well as when planning appropriate models to help individuals cope with different types of stress.


Coping with pandemic; aggression; affect regulation, child development, traumatic ­experiences

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Copyright (c) 2020 Barbara Simonič, Christian Gostečnik, Tanja Repič Slavič, Saša Poljak Lukek, Robert Cvetek, Tanja Pate, Tanja Valenta