Children coming to this world need one thing: unconditional love. Growing up feeling loved without conditions attached creates a healthy personality capable of healthy, loving relationships to oneself and to others. Children who are not given unconditional love, who are deprived of it, who are neglected, harmed or even abused, feel that something must be wrong with them. They will develop what is called the "self-love deficit disorder". It will carry on into adulthood and if left unrecognised and unhealed, it will persist for the lifetime, manifesting in unhealthy behaviour patterns and painful relationships.
Children are sensitive to traumatisation until the age of about sixteen. The younger they are, the more sensitive they are and the more devastating the traumatisation can be. Those who are harmed more severely can develop irreversible personality disorders, such as narcissism, sociopathy and psychopathy, characterised by having a grandiose personality and low levels of empathy for others, even deriving pleasure from hurting others. Deep inside, these people have encapsulated the traumatised child (which not only does not have self-love but hates itself by now) in a protective false personality bubble. The fake persona is perfect, flawless, better than the others. That was the only way the child could survive its ordeal and face the world. The problem is that in adulthood, the false personality persists. These people are not capable of self-reflection and sadly, cannot be healed. Sadly, they are also incapable of unconditional love.
In fact in my opinion trauma is the cause of evil in human culture, or even "evil" itself.
Where does trauma come from? Adults who live in fear, stress and violence traumatise their children. By action or omission. And since mankind's history has been full of violence, I believe that most of the current world's population has experienced a lack of unconditional love in childhood and has the self-love deficit disorder, to a smaller or larger extent. The self-love deficit disorder is also called "codependency", because people who doubt their own worth and lovability are dependent on outside validation, a confirmation of their value. Not being able to find security inside of themselves, they will look for something to hold on to, to depend on. Most often this will be relationships in which the parties are dependent on one another in an unhealthy way, creating pain and suffering. But this "something to hold on to" can also take on the form of alcohol, drugs and other addictive substances or things, such as social media.
Seen through the relationship lens, codependent people can be divided into dominant "takers", those with low empathy, and "givers" who are highly empathetic, have weak personal boundaries and are willing to nurture the takers. The two attract one another, as they have complementary energies. In simple terms, a narcissist will attract an empath and vice versa. The children of such parents will not receive unconditional love; they will experience some form of emotional or physical neglect, harm or abuse, a result of what their parents have carried on into adulthood from their own childhood trauma. And so the situation spirals on, from one generation to the next. You can try and have a look back at your family of origin. Who were the takers? Who were the givers? Why did they become how they were? What was happening in the world then? Were there wars? Natural disasters? Accidents? Premature deaths in the family? Which of their children grew up to be takers and which became givers? You might gain some good insights into how codependency arises and gets handed down through generations.
As a side note, surviving childhood trauma has its benefits too. People who survived neglect or abuse at young age have developed strong coping and survival skills. While some unfold particular talents and artistry in their lives, those with low levels of empathy unfortunately often make it to leadership positions in current-day society. For others, childhood suffering has given them amazing abilities to heal others. It strikes me that the healers I have met all have stories of serious childhood trauma.
The good news is that for the past several generations since the end of WWII, the world is becoming a safer and better place. The overall level of violence is decreasing, as measured for example by the number of wars waged and civilians killed around the globe. This is allowing new generations to grow up in decreasing levels of fear, stress and violence, making it possible for people to give more kindness and unconditional love to themselves, to each other and to their children. As a result, human society is slowly healing itself from its self-love-deficit disorder.
And we can actively speed up this process. Once we become aware of our codependency, we can start working on self-healing by giving ourselves the unconditional love which we lacked when we were small. By being kind and loving to ourselves, by practicing self-love and self-care, by unlearning our unhealthy behaviour patterns, by adjusting the way we interact with others and the world around us. It takes time, but it definitely can be done. There are some excellent therapies out there which you can undertake on your own. I will be happy to direct you. We are all on a journey toward a kinder, more loving, more humane mankind. The results can already be seen.