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Vicarious Trauma and Johnny Depp

Drugs, Alcohol, and Johnny Depp. Key Red Flags in Relationships!

Many people in relationships, for their marriages, open relationships, monogamous relationships, or even individual counselling, will inevitably ask, “can I make this relationship work?”. Many individuals are in love with the “idealized” fantasy of their partner. This is likely an evolutionary advantage rooted in a deep, felt sense of love and compassion that we have for each other. This would allow us to overcome adversity in our relationships and move forward together knowing that we aren’t perfect and that we inevitably make mistakes.

So why were so many people triggered by watching the Johnny Depp trial? Unfortunately, the main response to the question, can I make this relationship work, is a question on its own. How stable is the relationship? The more stable the relationship is, the more likely a relationship is to survive. Stability is provided through boundaries which can neither be too rigid nor too diffuse. Having healthy relationship boundaries creates environmental stability which allows each person to thrive and explore new opportunities, be themselves, make mistakes, and feel unconditional love, and respect.

People became triggered by watching the Johnny Depp trial because everybody has had relationships with poor boundaries. Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors that decrease overall stability in a relationship includes drugs, alcohol, and other forms of addictions. That is because these addictions cause instabilities in the relationship and make partners act unpredictably. When people act unpredictably, it creates a great sense of ambiguity, which results in anxiety, depression, confusion, loneliness, and a whole other variety of negative emotions for the people on the sidelines.

These factors that cause instability, will then cause other unpleasant emotions and behavioural responses inside the relationship, including stonewalling, defensiveness, resentment, anger, and even hostilities. These were overly apparent in the Johnny Depp trials. When people become more emotionally responsive, their behaviours may become more emotionally reactive, and the relationship deteriorates due to this negative feedback cycle of instability.

Then, mother nature kicks in, and we see the idealized version of our partners, a belief in people’s abilities to change, and a felt sense of loyalty. This will cause many people to stay in relationships much longer than they may otherwise have done so.

Many of us have old vehicles that have been in families for a long time. We look at them and go, “one day I would love to restore them,” but any mechanic will tell you to know when to walk away, due to structural flaws or other factors, that will ultimately result in your rebuild failing.

Come heal, grow and create together


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