We know of the five basic emotions: afraid, happy, angry, sad and ashamed. Now there’s a 6th one added to this category, namely disgusted. Recent scientific discoveries suggest that disgust also belongs on this list of basic natural emotions.
Disgust is a natural reaction which has the function to protect ourselves against intrusion from outside:
- Against pathogenes (decay, rotten food, etc)
- Against exchanging body fluids / sexual contact or
- Against morally reprehensible person / behavior
We know disgust in the context of the inner child when it comes to relationships or co-dependency. The anti-dependent partner is often disgusted by for example the neediness of the dependent partner. That neediness probably means that the other person demands proximity. And that can result in the exchange of bodily fluids (say sex) which can be precarious. Or it means a risk of intrusion by morally reprehensible ideas / behavior of the other, such as deception or betrayal. In the co-dependency, we assume that a partner has become so anti-dependent because of strong allergy against deception or betrayal from childhood.
My theory is that the more a person has been strongly traumatized in childhood, so having experienced intense ‘intrusion’, he or she can exhibit an enhanced disgust reaction to closeness or intimacy. A strong aversion response, which can lead to all sorts of dysfunctionally loathing thoughts, feelings and behavior. This can make friendships, relationships, intimacy and sexuality in later life into a much more difficult and complicated experience. The traumatized person can develop a pattern in which he or she would rather separate from the area.
Making someone more aware of the role of disgust in his or her thoughts, feelings and behavior is, in my experience, a very good way to bring self-acceptance and healing underway and to enable more human contact.