Possible Effects of Divorce on Children

 

effects of divorce

Effects of divorce on children

 

My own parents divorced in the scorching summer of 1976, when I was 8 years old. At prep school, I was the only boy in the class with divorced parents. I was deeply ashamed of this fact, and I did my best to keep it a secret. I was so disturbed by my home life that, during this period of my life, the teachers at my school thought I was developing deafness as I would never respond when my name was called – instead, I would be sitting in a kind of oblivious trance (this is what psychologists term a’ dissociative state’, or’ psychologically detaching’ from the pain of reality as a defense mechanism).

Indeed, when I was taken to see a doctor it was confirmed that there was nothing wrong with my ears. Unfortunately, however, my parents did not regard it as necessary to arrange counselling for me, even though I was displaying other worrying signs of emotional problems during this time.

Today, divorce is far more common than it was in the 1970s, and much less stigmatized. However, the potential adverse effects of divorce upon children can still be just as devastating as they have always been. Indeed, such effects can be carried into adult life, and, therefore, be passed on to the next generation.

effects_of_divorce_on_children, coping_with_divorce

 

POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN :

 

REDUCED EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT : studies have shown that children of divorced parents can have a reduced capacity for learning and perform, on average, worse in maths, spelling and reading than there peers

- POVERTY : divorce results in a large drop in household income and, in the USA, 50% of children from divorced families are placed into poverty as a consequence.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE : children of divorced parents are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, particularly in order to try to cope with the emotional pain of conflict and rejection.

- CRIME : children of divorced parents are more likely to become involved with crime. For example, a study by Robert Sampson, from the University of Chicago, showed that the divorce rate of specific areas was predictive  of the number of robberies carried out

RELATIONSHIPS – divorce can weaken the relationship between the parents and the child. It can also lead to the child developing destructive ways of handling conflict which can persist into adult life. Indeed, children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce their own partners in adult life. Furthermore, children of divorced parents show less desire to have children themselves when they become adults.

Children of divorced parents also often find in later life that their own capacity to have deep and trusting relationships has been reduced. Also, if, as adults, they do decide to have children, they will often struggle to create a positive and healthy environment for their families to live in.

NEGLECT : children of divorced parents are twice as likely to suffer neglect. Studies have shown that divorced mothers tend to be less able to provide their children with emotional support and divorced fathers are less likely to have a close relationship with their children.

 

A LIST OF OTHER POTENTIAL EFFECTS :

the child of divorced parents may :

– become prone to rage and anger

– become anxious/fearful

–  become depressed

– feel rejected

– experience a sense of conflicting loyalties

– feel extremely lonely

– find that their confidence and self-esteem has been damaged

 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES :

 

‘GET OVER DIVORCE’ (downloadable MP3 or CD options) CLICK HERE.

 

Useful eBooks :

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Above eBooks by David Hosier MSc available for INSTANT DOWNLOAD from Amazon. CLICK HERE.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

The Association Between Childhood Trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

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Many research studies have shown that individuals who have suffered childhood trauma and/or neglect are very considerably more likely to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) as adults than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable childhood.

it is thought marilyn munroe suffered from BPD

It is thought Marilyn Monroe suffered from BPD

 

WHAT IS BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD)?

 

BPD sufferers experience a range of symptoms which are split into 9 categories. These are:

1) Extreme swings in emotions
2) Explosive anger
3) Intense fear of rejection/abandonment sometimes leading to frantic efforts to maintain a relationship
4) Impulsiveness
5) Self-harm
6) Unstable self-concept (not really knowing ‘who one is’)
7) Chronic feelings of ‘emptiness’ (often leading to excessive drinking/eating etc ‘to fill the vacuum’)
8) Dissociation ( a feeling of being ‘disconnected from reality’)
9) Intense and highly volatile relationships

For a diagnosis of BPD to be given, the individual needs to suffer from at least 5 of the above.

frequently rejected in childhood, BPD sufferers live in terror of abandoment

frequently rejected in childhood, BPD sufferers live in terror of abandonment

A person’s childhood experiences has an enormous effect on his/her mental health in adult life. How parents treat their children is, therefore, of paramount importance.

BPD is an even more likely outcome, if, as well as suffering trauma through invidious parenting, the individual also has a BIOLOGICAL VULNERABILITY.

In relation to an individual’s childhood, research suggests that the 3 major risk factors are:

– trauma/abuse
– damaging parenting styles
– early separation or loss (eg due to parental divorce or the death of the parent/s)

Of course, more than one of these can befall the child. Indeed, in my own case, I was unlucky enough to be affected by all three. And, given my mother was highly unstable, it is very likely I also inherited a biological/genetic vulnerability.

 

EXAMPLES OF DAMAGING PARENTING STYLES:

 

1) Dysfunctional and disorganized – this can occur when there is a high level of marital discord or conflict. It is important, here, to point out that even if parents attempt to hide their disharmony, children are still likely to be adversely affected as they tend to pick up on subtle signs of tension.

Chaotic environments can also impact very badly on children. Examples are:

– constant house moves
– parental alcoholism/illicit drug use
– parental mental illness and instability/verbal aggression

 

2) Emotional invalidation. Examples include:

– a parent telling their child they wish he/she could be more like his/her brother/sister/cousin etc.
– a parent telling the child he is ‘just like his father’ (meant disparagingly). This invalidates the child’s unique identity.
– telling a child s/he shouldn’t be upset/crying over something, therefore invalidating the child’s reaction and implying the child’s having such feelings is inappropriate.
– telling the child he/she is exaggerating about how bad something is. Again, this invalidates the child’s perception of how something is adversely affecting him/her.
– a parent telling a child to stop feeling sorry for him/herself and think about good things instead. Again, this invalidates the child’s sadness and encourages him/her to suppress emotions.

Invalidation of a child’s emotions, and undermining the authenticity of their feelings, can lead the child to start demonstrating his/her emotions in a very extreme way in order to gain the recognition he/she previously failed to elicit.

 

3) Trauma and abuse – people with BPD have very frequently been abused. However, not all children who are abused develop BPD due to having a biological/genetic RESILIENCE and/or having good emotional support and validation in other areas of their lives (eg at school or through a counselor).

Trauma inflicted by a family member has been shown by research to have a greater adverse impact on the child than abuse by a stranger. Also, as would be expected, the longer the traumatic situation lasts, the more likely it is that the child will develop BPD in adult life.

 

4) Separation and loss – here, the trauma is caused, in large part, due to the child’s bonding process development being disrupted. Children who suffer this are much more likely to become anxious and develop ATTACHMENT DISORDERS as adults which can disrupt adult relationships and cause the sufferer to have an intense fear of abandoment in adult life. They may, too, become very ‘clingy’, fearful of relationships, or a distressing mixture of the two.

This site examines possible therapeutic interventions for BPD and ways the BPD sufferer can help himself or herself to reduce BPD symptoms. It also discusses many other topics related to the experience and effects of childhood trauma (see CATEGORIES in sidebar).
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Childhood Trauma : Dealing with Moodiness and Anger

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Those of us who have suffered significant childhood trauma often find, in both adolescence and adulthood, that we are full of rage and have great difficulties controlling our feelings of anger. Reasons for this include the conscious or unconscious hostility we feel towards our parent/primary care-giver whom we believe to have significantly contributed to our mental anguish . Such feelings can lead to us :

a) directly expressing our anger towards our parent/primary care-giver

b) DISPLACING the anger we feel towards our parent/primary care-giver onto others (especially if we IDENTIFY such others with our parent/primary care-giver e.g. a therapist) even though they were not the primary cause of it

c) both of the above

d) REPRESS our anger towards our parent/primary care-giver (ie deny it/bury it deep within ourselves) so that we are NOT CONSCIOUSLY AWARE OF IT. If this happens, unconscious processes may take place which cause us to turn this anger in upon ourselves resulting, perhaps, in  self-loathing,  clinical depression,  suicidal thoughts/behaviours and/or psychosomatic illnesses.

 

controlling_mood_swings

FLUCTUATING MOOD :

We may find, too, that, as adults who experienced severe childhood trauma, our moods are far more prone to change than the average person’s. We may, for example, find our feelings of intense irritation and anger are much more easily triggered than they are in most others. In short, we may find our moods and emotions are highly unstable and unpredictable. This, in turn, can cause others to be wary about interacting with us, perhaps feeling that, when they do, they are ‘walking on eggshells.’

We are especially likely to experience problems controlling our moods and emotions if our adverse childhood experiences have led to us developing a mental illness such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

how-to-control_mood_swings

 

WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP OURSELVES TO CONTROL OUR MOODS/OUTBURSTS OF ANGER?

1) If we have a mental illness, such as BPD or PTSD (as referred to above) we should very seriously consider obtaining specialized treatment to ameliorate such conditions. Cognitive-behavioural therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy are two possible options).

2) Improve our diet - for example, a high intake of sugar can cause intense highs and lows directly affecting our mood.

3) Cut down on caffeine and alcohol, both of which can have powerful effects upon how we feel

4) Avoid recreational drugs – this is especially important if we are vulnerable/have a pre-disposition) to developing mental illness. Recreational drugs can tip people over the edge (eg cannabis-induced psychosis).

5) Try to tackle any sleep problems – lack of sleep/sleep deprivation is very likely to make us more irritable/prone to anger.

6) Reduce stress as much as possible – this is extremely important as, when we feel under attack and generally oppressed, then, much like a cornered animal, we are far more prone to ‘lash out.’ This is an inbuilt, biological defense mechanism. If we have been drinking due to stress and, as a result, our inhibitions are lowered, we are particularly at risk of destructive behaviours which we are liable, later, deeply to regret.

Furthermore, if we suffered severe childhood trauma, it is possible that the development of vital brain regions such as the amygdala were adversely affected. Such damage is now known to make it much harder to deal with stress and to make the individual who sustained it generally more emotionally unstable (click here to read my article on this).

 

RESOURCES :

MANAGE YOUR ANGER PACK (downloadable MP3 0r CDs) - CLICK HERE

 

EBOOK :

 

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Above eBook now available on Amazon for IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD - CLICK HERE

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Childhood Trauma : Seeking Closure

childhood_trauma_effects_and_therapy

In the context of childhood trauma, ‘closure’ can perhaps be best described as deciding to live life by one’s own autonomous actions and decisions rather than allowing one’s life to be dictated by one’s painful past. It is also about being compassionate with oneself and being realistic. For example, accepting that one will continue to have painful memories and the unpleasant feelings such memories sometimes evoke, rather than to expect them to be banished from one’s mind for ever more.

Hopefully, however, as times go on, the intrusiveness of such memories and feelings will become less frequent as well as diminish in intensity.

imagesCANU0LTC

Accomplishing ‘closure’, or something close to it, needs to be an ACTIVE PROCESS – one needs to decide to alter one’s attitude (for example, focusing on how the experience of trauma has made us mentally tougher rather than on the hurt we have been caused and deciding to concentrate on the present and future rather than to obsessively dwell on the past – in the case of the latter, I dread to calculate the number of years I wasted).

It is likely, too, that we need to give ourself permission to start to enjoy life again – all too often, those who have suffered from significant childhood trauma become self-loathing adults and carry around an almost unbearable burden of irrational guilt (I have written about this extensively elsewhere on this site, eg CLICK HERE). It can take a surprising amount of inner strength to finally ‘let ourselves off the hook’.

In many ways, until we achieve something near to closure, we have been in a kind of state of ARRESTED EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT (click here to read my article related to this), mentally stuck at the stage of emotional development we were at at the time of our traumatic experiences.  By obtaining some kind of closure, we can finally look forward to developing some sort of emotional maturity and a degree, perhaps, of inner peace.

In short, we can start to actively live life, rather than reluctantly endure it.

RESILIENCE :

Obtaining closure involves us using our resilience. Resilience involves :

– developing the motivation necessary to make positive changes to our lives

– developing the ability to control our feelings rather than passively reacting to them and allowing them to dictate our actions

– attempting to develop our ability to trust others (where appropriate)

– attempting to develop a more positive outlook, rather than seeing ourselves, others and the world in general in a uniformally negative way.

RESOURCES:

LET GO OF THE PAST (downloadable MP3). CLICK HERE

DEVELOP POWERFUL RESILIENCE (downloadable MP3). CLICK HERE

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSC; PGDE(FAHE).

Feel Guilty About Enjoying Yourself?

childhood_trauma_effects_and_therapy

A profound sense of guilt and of worthlessness can develop within us if we experienced significant trauma during our childhood as has been written about extensively elsewhere on this site. One way in which this can manifest itself is that it can make us feel guilty and undeserving about experiencing good things in life such as relationships, career success or simply enjoying ourselves. Occasionally, a kind of irrational, superstitious belief system can develop around this; for example, an individual might think something along the following lines : ‘if I dare to enjoy myself something bad is bound to happen to me.’ Indeed, such  faulty thinking can take on dramatic dimension, such as, ‘there’s no point in me trying to form a relationship with someone – if I do, I’m bound to be immediately struck down by terminal cancer.’

The guilt we feel that produces such distorted thinking is very likely to have its roots in the childhood trauma we experienced; specifically, we may consciously, or subconsciously, irrationally believe that the bad things we experienced in childhood ‘were our own fault.’ This phenomenon is sometimes referred to by psychologists as ‘MAGICAL GUILT.’ (Click here to read my article about overcoming guilt that is linked to the experience of childhood trauma.)

 

guilt_self_sabotage

 

SELF-SABOTAGE

If we do become successful, and such guilt has not been resolved, we may unconsciously punish ourselves by, for example, by becoming depressed or developing psychosomatic illnesses. In my own case, as I have written about elsewhere, I gambled away the money my father had left me after his death almost immediately upon receipt of it (click here to read my article about this experience).

 

SURVIVOR GUILT

Another cause of this ‘magical guilt’ may be that we feel luckier than another member of our family. For example, if, say, one of our parents is suffering from serious clinical depression during a period of our lives when we feel relatively well, we may develop the false belief that we are only well at their expense. Again, this leads us to believing we are not entitled to our relative good fortune.

 

THE BURDEN OF GUILT

The burden of guilt that we take on in the ways explained above leads to us constantly denying ourselves pleasure or unconsciously spoiling it should we inadvertently stumble upon it.

 

RESOURCES :

STOP SELF-SABOTAGE MP3 – CLICK HERE

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

Childhood Trauma : Recovering and Flourishing

 

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We have seen in other posts on this site that not only can one recover from trauma, one can grow as a result (this is referred to by psychologists as POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH; click here to read my article on this) and, indeed, flourish.

In this context, the psychologists Huppert and So used the word ‘flourishing’ to mean arriving at a higher level of psychological functioning’ than one had prior to the experience of trauma. This may include :

– having a greater appreciation of life than one had had prior to the experience of trauma

– greater appreciation of relationships with others

– a better awareness of what really matters in life and a new ability to prioritize in relation to this new awareness

– a new appreciation of one’s own mental strength and ‘toughness’

– an ability and inclination to use adverse experiences in a positive way

– the development of a spiritual side to one’s nature

 

post_traumatic_growth_flourishing_positive_psychology

 

THE FEATURES OF FLOURISHING :

According to Huppert and So, there are three CORE features of flourishing and six ADDITIONAL features.

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

 

CORE FEATURES :

- positive emotions

 

engagement and interest

(eg having interests which completely absorb us so that we lose the feeling of self-consciousness with which we are usually encumbered – rather like a young child lost in a world of play and imagination)

 

- meaning and purpose

(having ‘meaning’ in life often means pursuing an endeavour for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end such as money and material gain)

 

ADDITIONAL FEATURES :

- self-esteem

 

- optimism

 

- resilience

(the ability to be able to cope with life’s set-backs without being overwhelmed)

 

- vitality

 

- self-determination

(being substantially in control of one’s own life –  eg not being blindly dictated to by convention, society or culture)

 

- positive relationships

 

STATISTICS :

The research conducted by Hubbert and So suggest that only about 18% of adults in the UK could be defined as ‘flourishing’. This compares with 33% of adults in Denmark, who, according to the statistics, are the most ‘flourishing’ people in Europe.

 

IMPLICATIONS FOR PUBLIC POLICY :

Whilst most nations measure success by the country’s generated wealth (referred to as GDP, or GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT), the current government in the UK is now also looking at ways to measure people’s ‘happiness’ in order to determine national success, which theories such as the above will, no doubt, will help to inform.

The area of psychology which deals with human ‘flourishing’ is known as POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGHY (click here to read my article about this).

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Emotional Cruelty – A New Law To Help Reduce It

emotional_cruelty

The UK government is considering up-dating law whereby more individuals could be charged and convicted of EMOTIONAL CRUELTY against children. Types of behaviour that may constitute emotional cruelty include belittling, isolating, rejecting, humiliating, ignoring and corrupting (eg into criminal and/or anti-social behaviour).

Furthermore, any adult behaviour which impaired the child’s intellectual, emotional or behavioural development could also be included.

A problem, however, will be deciding when exactly an adult behaviour such as those referred to above is significant and damaging enough to be defined as a criminal act – inevitably, a degree of subjectivity would invariably be involved, unless a case is obviously clear-cut.

Research suggests that emotional abuse is at least as damaging as other forms of abuse; however, the picture can become blurred as, often, emotional abuse will occur alongside other types of abuse.

 

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EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL CRUELTY :

Possible effects of emotional cruelty on the child include :

– effects on mental development

– effects on emotional development

– effects on behaviour

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) Mental development

– language development may be impaired

– there may be a link between emotional abuse and the development of ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACIVITY DISORDER (ADHD). However, further research is required in order to address this question further

2) Emotional development

The child may :

– develop clinical depression

– become extremely angry/aggressive (this may be directed at the parents/primary care-givers and/or displaced onto others who are not the primary cause of the anger)

– have suicidal thoughts

– have great difficulty controlling his/her emotions or develop an inability to feel and express a large range of emotions

– increasingly lack confidence (eg due to being constantly belittled and made to feel worthless by parents/primary carer)

– find it difficult in adulthood to form and maintain relationships (eg due to not having received affection and love him/herself during childhood)

– have a lower satisfaction with life in general in adulthood

– lack social skills and have few friends

3) Behaviour:

The child may :

– not care very much about how s/he acts or what happens to him/her (psychologists refer to this as : NEGATIVE IMPULSE CONTROL). Consequently, this may lead to risk-taking behaviours such as running away, stealing or bullying others

– develop an eating disorder

– self-harm

– develop obsessions/compulsions

– develop severe anxiety

– become very ‘clingy’ due to insecurity of home life

– drink excessively/use narcotics

– act in ways that are either consciously or sub-consciously designed to make other people dislike him/her – psychologists refer to this as SELF-ISOLATING BEHAVIOUR.

 

RESOURCES :

HELP WITH EMOTIONAL ABUSE (HEALTHYPLACE.COM)

 

EBOOKS :

 

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Above eBooks now available on Amazon for instant download. CLICK HERE

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

 

Childhood Trauma : The Child’s Basic Needs

cropped-childhood-trauma-fact-sheet15-200x59

All children have certain basic needs. The more of these needs that go unmet, and the greater extent to which they are absent, the more likely the child is to experience trauma as a result.

I provide a list of these basic needs below :

1) BASIC CARE –

This refers to the child’s essential PHYSICAL needs. These include adequate food and drink, adequate living conditions, adequate clothing and the provision of appropriate medical and dental care.

2) SAFETY –

The child should be protected from significant harm and danger, both PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL

3) SOCIAL AND INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION –

The child should be given proper learning opportunities / education to ensure appropriate COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT as well as opportunities to develop SOCIALLY through interaction with others, play, having his/her questions responded to and other appropriate verbal communication

4) STABILITY –

Stability within the family is vital and helps to ensure that the child forms SECURE ATTACHMENTS with the PRIMARY CARE GIVERS; part of ensuring stability is to make sure that the child is treated as CONSISTENTLY as possible (inconsistent discipline, for example, can have a very damaging effect upon the child).

Also, it is very important, wherever possible, that the child remains in contact with those who are of significant importance to the child’s emotional welfare.

5) EMOTIONAL WARMTH –

It is extremely important that the child is very much encouraged to take a positive view of him/herself, to view him/herself as a person of worth and to develop a good level of self-esteem.

In relation to this, the child’s needs require being responded to in a sensitive manner, including the needs for affection, being comforted in times of distress, being praised and being encouraged with his/her personal endeavours

6) BOUNDARIES –

The child needs to be set helpful boundaries which will allow him/her to build up an internal mental model of socially acceptable behaviour, thus helping the child to integrate him/herself successfully into wider society.

MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS

The psychologist, Maslow, identified a ‘pyramid of needs’, with the most basic at the bottom of the pyramid and the hardest to achieve at the top. Whilst this hierarchy of needs was devised mainly with  adults in mind, I thought it would be useful to include a diagram of these needs below :

 

child-basic_needs_rights

 

E-BOOKS :

 

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Above e-Books now available for INSTANT DOWNLOAD on Amazon. CLICK HERE

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

 

Possible Childhood Characteristics of Future Serial Killers

cropped-childhood-trauma-fact-sheet15-200x59

Research has demonstrated that many serial killers have much in common when it comes to their childhood experiences. Below, I provide a list of the common characteristics they may sometimes share. It goes without saying, however, that people with many or even all of these characteristics will not invariably grow-up to be serial killers! Furthermore, some serial killers will have shown few or none of the traits presented below during their childhoods.

As can be easily inferred, those who showed many of the characteristics presented below are also more likely to have developed anti-social personality disorder as adults when compared to individuals who demonstrated none of the characteristics.

serial_killers_childhood

Above : the fictional serial killer, Hannibal Lecter, played by Antony Hopkins.

1) EMOTIONAL ABUSE –

The vast majority of those who go on to become serial killers have suffered childhood abuse; most commonly, the type of abuse that they have suffered is EMOTIONAL ABUSE or NEGLECT (about half have sufferered one, the other, or both according to the available research).

Any discipline that they received as children tended to be unpredictable, arbitary and unreasonable, usually involving the child being humiliated and degraded.

Emotional neglect impairs the child’s ability to develop empathy (lack of empathy is one of the main hallmarks of psychopathy).

2) FANTASIES –

Because the child lacks control in his own life and may be the victim of severe abuse, he will often have a propensity to escape into a world of fantasy – the fantasies will frequently revolve around the themes of CONTROL and VIOLENCE.

3) CRUELTY TO ANIMALS –

Again, many individuals who have become serial killers ‘graduated’ from tormenting and torturing animals.

4) HEAD INJURIES –

A disproportionate number of serial killers suffered one or more head injuries as children. It is thought, in particular, that damage to the LIMBIC BRAIN, HYPOTHALAMUS, TEMPORAL LOBES and PRE-FRONTAL CORTEX are linked to the development of violent behaviour. The first three areas are involved with aggression, emotion and motivation whereas the fourth (the pre-frontal cortex) is involved with planning and judgment.

5) VOYEURISM AND FETISHISM –

This kind of behaviour may have developed fairly young ; the individual may, for example, have  started off  his ‘career’ as a ‘peeping tom’.

6) BEDWETTING –

If this goes on over the age of about 5 years, the child may feel humiliated because of it, especially if teased about it by, for example, older siblings or cruel parents.

7) DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS –

Often, the adult serial killer began to have problems with relationships early on in life. Unable to form or maintain relationships, he is much more likely than normal to have become a ‘loner’ in adult life.

8) ALCOHOL/SUBSTANCE ABUSE –

Nearly three-quarters of serial killers grew up in homes in which other family members had problems with alcohol and/or narcotics

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF SERIAL KILLERS’ CHILDHOODS :

– exposure to alcohol in the womb

– low self-esteem

– poor social functioning

– academic failure

– witnessing violence within the family

– a failure to complete high school

– arson

– victim of bullying

– early display of anti-social tendencies

– a fascination with weapons

– dismissive of/does not acknowledge the rights of others

– early displays of unusually high levels of violence and aggression

 childhood_trauma_and_borderline_personality_disorder_ebookcontent_4964975_DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL

Above e-books available for immediate download on Amazon. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Traumatic Grief in Childhood

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Traumatic grief in childhood occurs when someone who has an important bond with the child dies and the child experiences severe emotional distress as a result. However, more than this, the child is so traumatized by what has occurred that it s/he is unable to go through the normal grieving process.

In such a case, the child may well suffer the classic symptoms of trauma disorder such as having disturbing and intrusive thoughts about how the person died (especially so if the death was caused suddenly and unexpectedly due to, for example, a violent incident), nightmares and night terrors relating to the death. Indeed, even ‘happy and pleasant’ memories of the individual who died can trigger distressing and upsetting thoughts/images in the child’s mind.

childhood-traumatic_breavement

THE NORMAL PROCESS OF GRIEVING .

This is as follows:

1) An emotional reaction which may include anger and guilt, as well as profound sadness

2) Behavioural changes such as difficulty controlling anger, insomnia and loss of appetite (or excessive comfort eating)

3) Feelings of insecurity and an increase in feelings of dependency upon others

4) Cognitive disturbances (thinking difficulties) such as obsessively thinking about the deceased person and/or obsessive thinking about death and one’s own mortality

5) Changes in perception such as ‘sensing’ the deceased individual’s spirit is still somehow with one

 

Of course, the above merely represents a general outline of how people tend to react to the death of a person close to them, but there are significant individual differences in relation to these reactions.

Indeed, there is obviously no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to grieve, and different people will, of course, grieve for differing lengths of time.

Factors which are likely to affect how a particular child grieves will include the manner of the death (eg, was it violent, expected, unexpected etc), the chronological age of the child and his/her level of emotional development, the amount of emotional support provided for the child, particularly from immediate family and also from friends, school and wider society.

RESOURCES :

NHS – Coping with bereavement.

Royal College of Psychiatrists – Coping with bereavement

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Ten Childhood Experiences That May Lead To PTSD

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I list below ten types of childhood experiences which, depending on their intensity and the vulnerability of the individual who experiences them, could lead to the later development of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). However, it is important to stress that such experiences will NOT NECESSARILY lead to these conditions.

1) ACCIDENTS –  the more serious, the more likely it will give rise to psychological problems

2) DEATH OF A SIGNIFICANT LOVED ONE

3) ADOPTION – whilst often a very good thing, it is a massive psychological upheaval for the child and a factor which can add to the stress is if the child feels s/he has no control over the process

4) DIVORCE – the more acrimonious the divorce, all else being equal, the more likely the child is to be affected adversely by it.

5) VIOLENT ACTS – this includes both being the victim of domestic violence and/or witnessing another family member being the victim of such violence.

6) NATURAL DISASTERS – eg earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, especially if the child is completely helpless in the situation and can do nothing to make him/herself safer.

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7) NEGLECT – this can be physical, emotional or both. The earlier the neglect takes place in the child’s life, the more likely s/he is to develop psychological problems as a result.

8) ABUSE – physical, sexual or emotional. Bullying by peers and siblings can also have seriously harmful effects on the child’s mental health. All else being equal, the more the child PERCEIVES him/herself as being abused, the more serious the psychological consequences are likely to be.

9) MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS – the more serious, the more they are likely to harm the child psychologically. Being separated from parents/friends/siblings due to extended stays in hospital can also have a deleterious effect upon the child’s health.

10) MOVING – this may be difficult for the child to cope with if, for example, it involves moving away from friends, changing school or going to live in a country with a significantly different culture.

For advice about PROFESSIONAL HELP or for useful LINKS – see the MAIN MENU on this site.

 

Resources :

Help for PTSD from MIND

 

eBook:

 

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Do You Feel Constantly Frightened and Under Threat?

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One of the symptoms we can manifest as adults if we have experienced significant childhood trauma is a feeling of being constantly under threat. Psychologists call this a ‘sense of current threat’ and it is one of the hallmarks of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It can include having constant intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and nightmares; such symptoms remind us of what happened to us during our disturbed childhood and trigger the feelings of fear associated with our original trauma. In this way, we can come to feel trapped in a terrifying past.

Furthermore, it is also not at all improbable that, as a result of our childhood experiences, we have developed what psychologists refer to as a NEGATIVE COGNITIVE TRIAD. Essentially, this means our thinking has become distorted in such a way that we can only see ourselves, others and the world in general in extremely negative terms. For example, we may view ourselves as a terrible person beyond redemption, totally without worth and utterly impotent in the face of unmanageable problems; we may view others as threatening, dangerous, exploitative and utterly untrustworthy; we may, too, view the world in general as a extremely dangerous and frightening in a way that adversely affects our day-to-day functioning (e.g. feeling too frightened to leave the house).

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Indeed, ‘avoidance behaviour’ is one way many people attempt to cope with their feelings of fear. Such avoidance may involve a) PHYSICAL AVOIDANCE whereby we avoid people and situations that cause us anxiety or b) PSYCHOLOGICAL AVOIDANCE whereby we attempt to mentally ‘cut-off’ from our fears, perhaps, for example, by drinking excessively or by using narcotics (to read more about psychologically ‘cutting off’ see my article about ‘DISSOCIATION‘).

Whilst such AVOIDANCE STRATEGIES may be helpful to us in the short-term, in the medium and long-term it greatly hinders our recovery by stopping us from CONFRONTING, WORKING THROUGH and RESOLVING our fears.

Furthermore, our short-term avoidance strategy/strategies may themselves harm us – we may, for example, become dangerously dependent upon alcohol, or, if we try to cope by never leaving our flat or house, we may become intensely lonely and socially isolated.

AVOIDANCE AND MEMORY :

We can think of our memory as working rather like a bank – we store our experiences there and every time we remember a particular experience that memory itself becomes stored. This means, when memory is working in the normal way, the original memory becomes ‘updated’ according to what has happened to us since the original memory was stored. For example, let’s say that the first time we tried to swim a length of a swimming pool we were frightened that we might drown. However, because no such harm occurred either then or during later swimming sessions, the original memory is updated in the light of this new information. Consequently, our fear of swimming dramatically reduces.

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However, if we have a traumatic experience in childhood, the traumatic memory is stored along with its associated feelings of fear, but, if we avoid reminders of that trauma, the original memory NEVER GETS UPDATED.

For example, let’s say that our experience of childhood trauma left us believing that all people are dangerous and exploitative. As a result, we avoid interacting with people or making friends. By so doing, we deprive ourselves of the chance to learn that not everybody is actively seeking to stab us in the back – the original memory NEVER GETS UPDATED.

Indeed, the same principal applies even when we avoid THINKING about our original trauma.

Paradoxically, then, avoiding things by which we feel threatened actually PERPETUATES the feeling of being constantly threatened.

RESOURCES :

NHS – TEN WAYS TO FIGHT YOUR FEARS

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Stress Reduction – Golden Rules

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According to the British Medical Association, the GOLDEN RULES OF STRESS MANAGEMENT are as follows:

1) Decide what is really important in life and concentrate upon that (i.e. develop a good sense of priorities).

2) If you know you have a difficult situation coming up, try to plan how you will deal with it in advance

3) Try to develop a supportive social network and discuss problems with others

4) Lead a regular life-style which includes exercise

5) Give yourself rewards (however small) for positive thoughts, attitudes and actions

6) Try to strengthen any important  weak points

7) Avoid brooding about problems – this is very important and you might need to distract yourself by doing something pleasant, rewarding and interesting

8) Try to think realistically about problems, keeping them in proportion. Where possible, TAKE DECISIVE ACTION to remedy them, rather than continuously having futile worries about them.

9) Be compassionate and forgiving towards yourself

10) Seek professional help if you feel you need it

11) Don’t over-exert yourself mentally or physically – rest and peace of mind are essential for proper recovery which will sometimes necessitate taking time off from work (taking time off work for psychological health reasons is just as valid as taking time off due to a physical problem).

12) Try to make small, frequent, positive changes – these soon mount up making a big difference

13) Make time for yourself – everyday.

14) Undertake as many enjoyable activities as possible.

RESOURCES :

STRESS BUSTERS – NHS

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma and Depression – Somatic Symptoms

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We know that the experience of significant childhood trauma makes a person more vulnerable to suffering from clinical depression in later life. Whilst depression usually gives rise to both psychological and somatic (i.e. bodily) symptoms, in this article I intend to focus solely on somatic symptoms.

One such symptom of depression is a constant feeling of extreme fatigue; this, at least in part, is linked to the fact that many individuals who suffer from depression have sleep problems. In fact, four out of every five people with depression report suffering from insomnia, whilst a further 15% report a need to sleep excessively. Lack of energy can have a very drastic effect – for example, it can actually significantly slow down how a person moves (walks e.t.c.) on a day-to-day basis; psychologists refer to this as PSYCHOMOTOR RETARDATION.

Furthermore, there is now increasing evidence that those who suffer from depression are also more vulnerable to heart disease (however, the precise reason for this is not yet fully understood).

Osteoporosis, too, is more prevalent amongst those with a history of clinical depression due to the fact that it causes damaging alterations in a person’s bone mass.

Clinical depression can also reduce an individual’s sex drive (i.e. lower libido). Men may experience impotence, often due to an inability to relax during sex. Also, many depressed people feel so emotionally numb that the idea of sex simply loses its appeal.

Many people who are suffering from clinical depression also often report feelings of bodily pain which has no obvious physical cause. For example, people often complain of an oppressive sense of pressure in their head, or pains in their face, neck, chest and stomach.

Indeed, it is thought that about half of people with clinical depression experience physical pain as a result, and, unfortunately, often both they and their doctors do not realize that depression is the underlying problem.

To make matters even more complicated, it is now thought that a large group of individuals with depression show ONLY physical symptoms (sometimes referred to as ‘smiling depression’, as the person does not report feeling especially unhappy), making it even more unlikely that their bodily problems will be attributed to a psychological cause (i.e. to depression).

The physical brain itself, too, can be adversely affected by serious clinical depression – due to the temporary effects of depression on the death and birth of brain cells, some small regions of the brain can actually shrink; also, research suggests that depression causes alterations to the brain’s blood flow in certain regions.

Whilst it used to be thought that physical complaints arising from depression were due to an individual ‘converting’ their emotional symptoms into somatic ones (referred to as ‘somatization‘), the current view is that clinical depression can actually lead to a malfunction of the pain perception pathways (the nerve pathways that are disrupted are thought to involve the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine – the actions of both of these neurotransmitters are known to be disrupted by depression).

It follows, therefore, that the somatic symptoms of depression are likely to be best treated by anti-depressants that act upon the the neurotransmitters referred to in the above paragraph.

RESOURCES :

EXPERT TIPS FOR DEALING WITH DEPRESSION – NHS

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Dealing with Stress : Increasing our Ability to Relax.

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We know that those of us who suffered significant childhood trauma are far more likely to be vulnerable to the effects of stress as adults when compared to those who had relatively stable upbringings (all else being equal). Indeed, the sensation of extreme stress can be extremely difficult to cope with due to both the psychological and physical symptoms it can give rise to.

Unfortunately, our psychological reaction to stress leads to physical symptoms which in turn worsen our mental state which, also in turn, intensifies yet further the already unpleasant physical symptoms we are experiencing. In this way, a VICIOUS CYCLE develops.

It is necessary, then, to break this vicious cycle before our symptoms spiral out of control and possibly lead to a panic-attack.

An effective way to do this is to use RELAXATION TECHNIQUES – these help us to reduce our anxiety and calm our physiological responses (e.g. pulse, blood pressure, muscular tension).

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One of the best known and most effective of such techniques involves controlled breathing coupled with a physical relaxation sequence. I give details of this below:

BREATHING:

Breathe slowly and deeply as follows:

– in through the nose, filling the lungs

– hold the breath in for 3-6 seconds (this will be extended to 10 seconds during the relaxation sequence (see below).

– breathe out through mouth, emptying the lungs

2) Keep this slow and deep breathing-style going during the following physical relaxation sequence :

THE RELAXATION SEQUENCE :

The tensing of the muscle group detailed below should take place during the IN-BREATH

The muscle group detailed should then be kept tense whilst you hold your breath for 10 SECONDS

The muscle group detailed should finally be relaxed during the OUT-BREATH

1) Toes

2) Calves

3) Thighs

4) Buttocks

5) Stomach

6) Biceps

7) Shoulders

8) Neck

9) Jaw

10) Forehead and eyes (tense by frowning and screwing together eyes)

11) Tense all muscles at the same time for 10 seconds, then relax

12) Close eyes, continue to breathe slowly and deeply, visualizing a peaceful scene of your choice; try to keep your concentration on this visualized scene for 30 seconds

13) After thirty seconds, keeping your eyes closed, tell yourself that when you open them you will be fully relaxed. Then open your eyes.

You may want to repeat these steps up to five to ten times.

RESOURCES :

STRESS BUSTERS – NHS

Hypnotherapy :

A particularly effective way of relaxing which utilizes techniques such as the above is hypnotherapy; the company I recommend for hypnotherapy products (including instant downloads) is HYPNOSISDOWNLOADS.COM (see the RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS SECTION of this site listed in the MAIN MENU) or click banner below :

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Improving Relationships – Positive Communication

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We have seen in previous articles published on this site that one of the main symptoms of having experienced a traumatic childhood in which our relationship with our parent/parents/primary care-giver was seriously disrupted is difficulty in trusting others and problems with forming and maintaining relationships in general.

This is, of course, extremely unfortunate, especially as research suggests that it is relationships (romantic partners, friends, social life etc) that can make us truly happy, NOT lots of money, great success or acquiring expensive possessions.

For example, the psychologist Maslow (1940s) identified good relationships with others as an absolutely fundamental human need and the psychologist Argyle (1980s) stressed the great importance of supportive, trusting and warm relationships in generating within ourselves a feeling of well-being. Contemporary psychologists (eg Seligman) have also carried out research confirming these earlier findings.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF POSITIVE COMMUNICATION :

Many relationships break down due to poor communication. However, recent research suggests it is not just important to communicate well when there are problems in the relationship, but, also, when things are going positively. IN PARTICULAR, recent research has shown that HOW A PARTNER RESPONDS TO THE OTHER PARTNER’S GOOD NEWS  is of paramount importance if a relationship is to progress smoothly.

Indeed, researchers in the field of positive psychology (the scientific study of what contributes to human well-being), Gable et al, have found, in connection with this, that the way a partner responds to the other partner’s good news can be placed into one of four main categories; these are:

1) PASSIVE CONSTRUCTIVE (PC)

2) PASSIVE DESTRUCTIVE (PD)

3) ACTIVE DESTRUCTIVE (AD)

4) ACTIVE CONSTRUCTIVE (AC)

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) PC – this refers to a rather weak and unenthusiastic response. For example, say the partner’s just got a great new job, beating fifty other candidates – a PASSIVE CONSTRUCTIVE RESPONSE might be, ‘Oh, really; that’s something, I suppose.’

2) PD – in the above scenario a PASSIVE DESTRUCTIVE RESPONSE might be first, ignoring the news, and, then, launching into telling you their (in their view, far more important) news; for example: ‘You wouldn’t believe my day, I very nearly got a parking ticket!’

3) AD – in the above scenario, an ACTIVE DESTRUCTIVE RESPONSE might be, ‘Huh! Really? My bet’s you won’t last a week – they’ll soon realize what a complete loser you are; you can hardly tie your shoelaces!’

4) AC – in the above scenario, an ACTIVE CONSTRUCTIVE RESPONSE would be any that was extremely supportive and enthusiastic such as, ‘That’s a really great achievement, I knew they’d realize how talented you are! I’m so proud of you. Let’s go out and celebrate!’

 Of course, I’ve exaggerated some of the negative  responses for comic effect – often the negative responses will be far more subtle (but just as damaging).

RESOURCES :

HELP WITH RELATIONSHIPS – RELATE

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Recovery : Writing as Therapy

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If we were emotionally wounded as children, writing down our thoughts and feelings, perhaps in a journal, can be extremely therapeutic. Or, if a we are particularly creative, writing a novel or poetry about early experiences can be extremely cathartic.

Alternatively, writing a letter to the person/people who hurt us, explaining how their treatment of us has affected us, can also be extremely helpful (whether or not we actually send the letter).

Indeed, it is not uncommon to hear writers say, because of the difficult early experiences they have had, that they actually feel compelled to write and start to feel unwell if they are somehow prevented from doing so.  Franz Kafka is an example of this – he had a very bad relationship with his father and, as well as writing novels (and the well known short story - Metamorphosis), he wrote a famous letter to his father (although he never actually sent it).

 

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Above – Franz Kafka

 

EXTERNALIZATION : One of the main reasons why writing about our early life trauma can be so effective at helping to feel better is that it gives us the opportunity to EXTERNALIZE what has happened to us, rather than keeping it painfully bottled up inside.

It also helps us to organize out thoughts about what happened to us, as well as helping us to gain a better understanding of how we have been affected by our experiences. Indeed, understanding what has caused us to have problems in our adult lives is of fundamental importance if we are to properly recover.

Furthermore, writing about our negative experiences helps us to put distance between them and ourselves  and allows us to view things more objectively. This can come as a great relief and lessen any painful, intrusive thoughts we may have been suffering.

 

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Recovery : Re-programming Our Subconscious

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We reprogram, to some degree, our subconscious minds every single day due to our various emotional responses to people, situations and events.

Very simply put, if we experience something we like we program our subconscious in such a way that we are encouraged to repeat it, and, if we experience something we do not like, we program our subconscious in such a way that we are encouraged to avoid it in future.

Unfortunately, if we have experienced difficult childhoods, it is likely our subconscious has been programmed in a negative way. This programming may well have helped us to survive our childhoods, but, as adults in a different situation, the programming is very likely now to be holding us back in life.

Most people do not realize that their day-to-day behaviour is massively influenced by experiences held below the level of conscious awareness, and, because of this, are not aware of how much their childhood experiences may be influencing, in a very negative way, how they currently experience their lives and how they function (or fail to function).

Indeed, childhood trauma may program our subconscious to form very negative beliefs such as:

– everybody is completely untrustworthy

– I am utterly unlovable

– I am worthless

– people will always reject me

– all people are a danger to me, I must attack them before they attack me

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For most of us, such negative programming will have its roots in our relationship with our parents/primary care-givers as they tend to have the most influence over how we come to perceive ourselves. However, other influences include friends, other relatives and the culture/wider environment in which we grew up.

Fortunately, we can reprogram our subconscious minds through various techniques such as self-hypnosis. Doing this is so useful because it is much easier for us to change our behaviour and how we feel about life by re-programming our subconscious than it is to use effortful, conscious will-power (although, of course, the latter should also be used).

A COMPUTER ANALOGY:

If we have experienced a traumatic childhood, it is likely our ‘software’ (i.e. our subconscious’) has been programmed in such a way that it is now dysfunctional. Essentially, we need to put in new ‘software’ (i.e. reprogram our subconscious).

This can be achieved by implanting new ideas and new ways of viewing things into our subconscious, in a consistent fashion, so that they take root in our minds and grow to such an extent that we find our lives significantly, even dramatically, improved.

For more about the effectiveness of hypnosis, I recommend my affiliated site (see also RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS in the MAIN MENU):

HYPNOSISDOWNLOADS.COM

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Overcoming Emotional Numbness

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Inevitably, a sense of loss accompanies the experience of childhood trauma, which, in turn, can manifest itself by leaving us with a constant feeling of EMOTIONAL NUMBNESS.

Whilst highly unpleasant, the feeling of emotional numbness is, essentially, a psychological defense mechanism enabling us to avoid certain feelings that would otherwise attach themselves to events and circumstances which remind us of our trauma. Because such feelings would be overwhelmingly painful, we (subconsciously) ‘shut them down.’

In this way, we may no longer experience strong feelings in relation to people and events that were important to us before we experienced our trauma.

Indeed, this feeling of emotional numbness can be extremely persistent and long-lasting – so much so, in fact, that we may feel that we have been permanently changed or damaged.

It is not unusual, too, for feelings of grief to accompany this numbness, as well as irrational feelings of shame and guilt.

Often, also, we feel closed off – as if there is a kind of thick sheet of almost opaque glass between us and the rest of the world which cannot be penetrated. We may refuse to talk about our experiences and avoid friends and social situations. In this way, our day-to-day functioning can become significantly impaired.

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Above – severe depression will often accompany feelings of emotional numbness

RECOGNITION OF THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM :

Recognizing that these symptoms are connected to our experience of trauma is the first step on the journey to recovery. When we feel closed off and empty, it is necessary for us to ask ourselves, ‘What is it that I am trying to avoid? What emotion that I am afraid of is my mind trying to protect me from?’

Often , the answer is love, trust and emotional pain. We fear that if we allow ourselves to open ourselves up to the possibility of feeling such things they will overwhelm and destroy us.

Indeed, as a further defense against making ourselves vulnerable, we may have become bitter and cynical.

THE SOLUTION:

The solution will frequently lie in, very gradually, re-exposing ourselves to the possibility of opening ourselves up to such feelings again. It is important, in this regard, to take very small, baby steps and to avoid immediately plunging ourselves into a situation which could potentially trigger intense emotions.

Indeed, if, whilst taking such steps, we begin to feel overwhelmed, it is likely that we are attempting to progress too quickly, or that we may need to acquire professional support to help us to cope with our recovery attempt (recovery itself can be very painful). In this regard, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often effective (click here to read my article on this).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

How Narcissistic Mothers Can Invalidate Us

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One of the most frustrating and upsetting things about how the narcissistic mother may respond to us is that if we try to explain how much we have been psychologically injured by her, she is very likely to respond by INVALIDATING this view as, essentially, she tends to view herself as someone who can do no wrong; by constantly and unwaveringly undermining our strongly held belief, she can lead us to question our perception of very reality.

Having our perception of reality unremittingly called into question in this insidious manner is known to be PARTICULARLY DAMAGING TO OUR MENTAL HEALTH, thus compounding, massively, the harm already down to us.

Indeed, in my own family, not only does my mother not acknowledge that I was damaged by my childhood, but so, too, do not (or have not) its other members. Their keeping up of this absurd pretence has, over the years, amounted to a highly corrosive and invidious ‘conspiracy of silence.’

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WHAT FORM DOES SUCH INVALIDATION TAKE?

This invalidation involves our thoughts, experiences and feelings being denied or, even, scorned and held in contempt ; it can, and, not infrequently does, amount to a kind of re-writing of history and brain-washing. We can be placed in an Orwellian hell in which we are forced to believe two and two really does make five, that black really is white.

Examples of things that might be said to us in an attempt to invalidate us :

– you’re over-sensitive

– for god’s sake stop harping on about that, it’s ancient history

– turn off the water-works, you’re getting upset over absolutely nothing

– I think you’re a very horrible person for bearing grudges

– Jesus told us to forgive, perhaps you should take a leaf out of his book

– you’re blowing all this massively out of proportion

– stop wallowing in this revolting self-pity

– you’re always whinging – get over yourself!

– oh, shut up – I do listen to you!

– I was just teasing you – can’t you take a joke, for god’s sake?!

– stop taking this ‘holier than thou’ attitude, you’re far too judgmental – don’t you think it’s time you climbed down from your high-horse?

– you’ve completely misinterpreted what I was saying

– stop criticizing me, I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong

– it’s your fault I did/said that – you drove me to it!

– I never did that

– I never said that

– that never happened

If you would like to read more about narcissistic mothers, click here to read another one of my articles.

To read about how narcissistic mothers can ‘PARENTIFY’ their children, CLICK HERE.

To view the ebooks I have written on the subject of childhood trauma CLICK HERE

To view a resource you may find helpful, click here (or visit the RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS section – see MAIN MENU – of this site).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

The Different Types of Anxiety Disorder

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I have already written at length about the fact that those of us who suffered significant childhood trauma are more likely to suffer anxiety disorders as adults than those who had a relatively stable upbringing (all else being equal).

Anxiety disorders are very common. In any one year in the U.S. about eighteen per cent of individuals will be diagnosed with one of these disorders. Many more will suffer from excessive worry which has not been diagnosed.

In this article, I want to look at the main different types of anxiety disorder that exist.

First, however, it is worth pointing out that some anxiety is healthy. For example, many of us would be anxious before an important job interview, and, in such a case, a moderate amount of anxiety can improve our performance (e.g. it might compel us to prepare thoroughly). Such ‘healthy’ anxiety is appropriate and transient (i.e. it disperses soon after the stressful event is over and does not impair our functioning).

However, if a person is constantly, unremittingly, extremely anxious,  on a day-to-day basis, and this anxiety has an adverse effect upon his/her thinking and behaviour, it is quite possible s/he is suffering from a diagnosable anxiety disorder.

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Let’s take a look at the various types of anxiety disorder that exist :

1) SEPARATION ANXIETY : this involves the individual becoming excessively anxious about being separated from those with whom s/he has formed a significant attachment. It is more common in children and can often derive from a disrupted bonding process which took place between the baby and mother (or other primary care-giver). The symptoms the child is likely to display if suffering from separation anxiety include excessive crying and tantrums.

Adults and adolescents suffering from the condition are more likely to express it by displaying signs of acute panic as well as developing physical symptoms such as headaches and nausea.

2) SPECIFIC PHOBIA : this involves the individual experiencing irrational fear in response to encountering SPECIFIC OBJECTS OR SITUATIONS.

If exposed to the dreaded object or situation, the individual will respond with extreme fear and anxiety.

Another hallmark of the condition is that the affected person will go to extreme lengths to avoid the feared object or situation in a manner which can be highly disruptive to his/her life.

3) SELECTIVE MUTISM : the individual affected by this disorder ceases to speak in certain social situations (though NOT in all social situations). The very thought of having to speak in these particular situations leads to the experiencing of great distress and panic. It is most common in children and it is far more extreme than ordinary shyness.

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4) PANIC DISORDER : an individual who suffers from this will experience an intense, sudden onset of fear and anxiety which causes significant distress and symptoms such as chest pain, rapidly beating heart, shaking, dizziness, nausea and even a feeling of very imminent death.

Sometimes, there are triggers which give rise to such reactions, whereas, at other times, the distressing feelings may materialize ‘out of the blue’.

In either case, the person will feel a desperate need to escape the current situation in which s/he finds him/herself.

However, this reaction alone (which psychologists refer to as a ‘panic attack‘) is insufficient to warrant a diagnosis of panic DISORDER – for this condition to be diagnosed, the person must not only suffer from panic attacks, but, ALSO, must be so PREOCCUPIED with concern about their possible occurrence that his/her life is significantly disrupted.

One of the most common fears that people with panic disorder have is of entering largerdepartment stores, supermarkets etc.

Not infrequently, those who suffer from panic disorder feel safer if, in the feared situation, they have someone with them to provide them with reassurance.

5) AGORAPHOBIA : this condition involves an irrational and disproportionate fear of PARTICULAR situations. In such feared situations, they will experience intense concern that something terrible will happen which they will be unable to escape.

Therefore, the individual will desperately avoid exposing themselves to the feared situation in a way that significantly impairs their daily functioning.  (e.g. being unable to travel to a place of work due to an irrational fear of public transport).

6) SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER : this condition involves a deep fear of being judged and negatively evaluated in certain social situations. Such situations cause the person to experience an extremely uncomfortable level of anxiety and distress which tenaciously persists.

In this way, the condition significantly impairs day-to-day functioning.

Often, it is NOT ALL social situations which give rise to such anxiety in the sufferer, but, rather, specific ones such as meeting new people or interacting in large groups.

7) GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER (GAD) : this condition manifests itself by causing the sufferer to worry obsessively about a WIDE VARIETY of concerns (both important and trivial) in a way which is very hard to control, and, therefore, often overwhelming.

The level of anxiety is so high that it significantly disrupts the individual’s life.

The condition can impair, for example :

– the ability to concentrate

– the ability to hold down a job

– the ability to sleep

The individual may be so consumed by worry that s/he feels trapped in an internal world of pain and detached from the outside world.

For the disorder to be formally diagnosed, the condition must be experienced more days than not and the level of worry must be significantly disproportionate to its source in reasonable and objective terms.

Other symptoms may include :

– irritability

– fatigue

– nausea

– headaches

– stomach complaints.

CONCLUSION :

As I stated at the start of this article, because many anxiety conditions may have their root in our experience of childhood trauma that has caused the resultant anxiety to be shifted onto our ‘thinking style’, leading to us perceiving the world as dangerous, and ourselves to as powerless, helpless and highly vulnerable, therapies which address this ‘faulty thinking style’, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), can be highly effective at correcting and, consequently, at reducing, our anxiety levels (click here to read my article on how CBT can help us to recover from childhood trauma).

Also, both MINDFULNESS and HYPNOTHERAPY CAN SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE ANXIETY. See MAIN MENU for ARTICLES and RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS relating to these.

FURTHER RESOURCE:

HELP WITH GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER – NHS

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Possible Adverse Physical Effects of CPTSD

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Unfortunately, as well as psychological effects, if we have developed complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) as a result of our childhood experiences (click here to read my article on the difference between PTSD and CPTSD), the condition can also give rise to adverse physical effects (i.e. bodily/somatic effects).

The main reason for this is that, as sufferers of CPTSD, we tend to be chronically locked into a state of distressing hyper-arousal (which psychologists often refer to as the fight/flight state – click here to read my article on this).

Essentially, this means that our SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM becomes CHRONICALLY OVER-ACTIVATED, which, in turn, can lead to harmful bodily processes resulting in, for example :

– over-production of ADRENALINE (a hormone that is produced by the body when we perceive ourselves to be in danger, preparing us for ‘fight or flight’)

– disrupted sleep (which can have a deleterious effect on our physical health).

– stomach disorders (due to a tightened digestive tract)

– excessive muscle tension

– shallow/rapid breathing (causing us to take in too much CO2 (carbon dioxide)  and not enough O (oxygen) – this can cause panic attacks

– a general inability to relax leading to unhealthy ‘self-medication’ such as excessive drinking, smoking, over-eating, use of narcotics

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WHAT CAN BE DONE?

There are various strategies we can use to help manage this problem, including :

– stretching exercises

– yoga

– massage

– mindfulness meditation

– self-hypnosis for relaxation

(See ‘RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS’ in the MAIN MENU for mindfulness and self-hypnosis products, or click here).

The above therapies are likely to be more effective if combined with other therapies that address the root of the problem (i.e. adverse childhood experiences). In relation to this, the following may be considered :

– COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT) – click here to read my article on this

– DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (DBT) - click here to read my article on this

– EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITISATION AND REPROCESSING THERAPY (EMDR) – click here to read my article on this

RESOURCES :

HELP FOR PTSD – ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRY

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma Leading to Intense Self-Criticism

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

If we suffered significant childhood trauma it is likely we were not instilled with an adequate sense of self-acceptance or self-assurance when we were young. Perhaps we were made to feel inadequate and inherently flawed as individuals.

Such feelings can extend well into our adult lives, or, without therapy, last the whole of our lives.

As a result, we may have been led to over-focus, and exaggerate in our own minds, any weaknesses we have and any mistakes we make, perhaps, even, to the point of obsession.

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Now, as adults, as a result of such a childhood, it is possible we have developed a highly self-deprecating personality – this can mean, for example, we find it very hard to accept compliments. Furthermore, we may :

– downplay our achievements and accomplishments

– feel embarrassed if someone refers to our achievements and accomplishments

– become obsessed by mistakes we make

– believe that if someone praises us they do not really mean it but are just trying to be kind

– feel that compliments given to us are not really warranted and that we don’t really deserve them

– even if we do very well at something, we may very well tend to focus on why we did not achieve perfection ; this leads us onto the next section :

PERFECTIONISM :

If unreasonable demands were made of us as children, we may find that, as adults, we need to get everything ‘perfectly right'; this is likely to be a largely unconscious attempt to finally gain parental approval and acceptance.

However, this leads us to setting standards for ourselves which are unrealistic and impossible for us to meet. For example, we might be obsessed with ensuring that nothing we do ever goes wrong, that we can always fully meet the needs of others who are dependent upon us and that, if we fail in such areas, we must be ‘deeply flawed’ individuals.

However, because it is impossible to go through life without ever making mistakes, taking wrong decisions or making the wrong choices, we frequently become filled with intense feelings of self-reproach.

Setting ourselves impossibly unrealistic targets means we become far too demanding of ourselves and, therefore, we find ourselves constantly criticizing ourselves and being disappointed in ourselves for failing always to meet our self-imposed, highly exacting demands.

SHAME AND GUILT :

The feelings, beliefs and behaviours described above are likely to have arisen because we were made to feel shame and guilt when we failed to be perfect as children – it is likely that our parent/parents/primary carer made us feel that we were ‘never quite good enough’ and that we were a constant source of disappointment.

As adults, then, we have displaced our parent’s/parents’ unreasonable expectations of us onto our current relationships with others. Insight into this problem is the first step to freeing us from our perpetual, unreasonable self-demands.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one therapy that studies show can be very effective for treatment of intense and obsessive self-criticism (click here to read my article on CBT).

In terms of self-help, hypnotherapy, too, can be highly effective. For the relevant hypnosis downloadable audio I recommend HypnosisDownloads.com – see ‘RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS’ in MAIN MENU or click below :

TAME YOUR INNER CRITIC SELF-HYPNOSIS AUDIO (immediate download – $14.95 but cheaper if bought as part of package – money back guarantee).

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

Childhood Trauma Leading to Suspicious Mind-Set as Adult

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If, as a result of childhood trauma, we felt betrayed by our parent/primary carer in a way that deeply affected us, this could have lead to us developing a generally suspicious mind-set in our adult lives. This may entail beliefs that others are out to harm us or a feeling of being generally persecuted.

For example, during a period when I was unwell, I got into a minor argument with someone in a pub in London, and, later, over the next few days (possibly even weeks, my memory’s hazy on this) I was convinced he had engaged the services of a hit-man to shoot me. There was no evidence for this whatsoever, of course (although, in fairness to myself, the person I argued with was quite intimidating!).

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Worse still, I would have periods of imagining all the different ways I might be tortured in ‘hell’ for all eternity. This is especially surprising and unfathomable as I am not at all religious (although my step-mother, who despised me and was deeply religious, did shout at me in what she believed to be ‘tongues’ around about the time I was thirteen years old : go figure!).

POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS :

If we have developed an unusually suspicious mind-set, symptoms may include :

– feeling we are being watched

– feeling others are talking about us (not in a complimentary way)

– people are using hints and double meanings in what they say to us with the intention to threaten us

– feeling others are ridiculing us behind our backs

– believing others are spreading malicious rumours about us

– believing others are trying to financially harm us (e.g. by somehow getting us fired from work)

and, at the more extreme end of the spectrum, crossing the boundary into paranoia :

– believing others are trying to poison our food/drink

– believing others can read our thoughts/broadcast our thoughts/control our thoughts

– believing the government intends to assassinate us for unknown reasons

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WHY DO SUCH SYMPTOMS DEVELOP?

I provide three examples below:

1) As I stated previously, those of us who felt betrayed in childhood are at particular risk of developing such symptoms. For example, we may have been made to feel we were ‘intrinsically and irredeemably bad’ and therefore ‘deserve’ to be persecuted.

2) Alternatively, people who develop ‘delusions of grandeur’ (this can be linked to narcissistic personality disorder – click here to read my article on this) may be more prone to feelings of being persecuted, the subconscious thought process being ‘my importance and power mean people are jealous and fearful of me and therefore want to hurt me’ (or something running along similar lines).

3) Another possibility is that, if we were made to feel worthless and inadequate when we were young, we may, subconsciously, believe others are bound to notice our vulnerability and will therefore pick on us.

STATISTICS :

a – 4 in 5 believe a stranger has looked at them critically, without provocation

b – 1 in 3 believe that bad things are regularly said about them behind their backs

c – 9 in 10 believe the above (b) has happened to them at least once

d – 1 in 5 has at sometime felt the impression that they were under some kind of indefinable threat

e – TAKING STATISTICS AS A WHOLE,  ABOUT 1 in 3 PEOPLE REGULARLY HAS SUSPICIOUS OR PARANOID THOUGHTS

NB Suspicious thinking is linked to both PTSD (click here to read my article on this) and social anxiety (click here to read my article on this).

For an expertly designed MP3 audio for overcoming anxiety about paranoid thinking please visit the affiliate site I recommend by CLICKING HERE (see RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS in the MAIN MENU)

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma Recovery : Rediscovering Our True Selves

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

As we recover from our childhood trauma, we can start to get back in touch with our authentic self, untainted from the trauma’s effects. We can start to become the person we always wanted to be. Indeed, although our trauma did us incalculable harm, it is likely that it also forced us to develop strengths which we may well now be in a position to utilize to our advantage.

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Whilst, prior to recovery, our lives were dominated by reliving our trauma and acting out its effects, we can now begin to discard our ‘victim status’ and begin to pursue our aspirations, even though, to begin with, we may find this a rather frightening prospect.

We needed to be strong in order begin our journey on the road to recovery and we can now use this strength, and the self-discipline that went with it, to start living our lives in a productive, positive and fulfilling way.

At first this may well involve sensible risk taking, trial and error, and an acceptance that we might make mistakes.

Also, we can begin to discard those aspects of ourselves, caused by our traumatic experiences, that were dysfunctional and held us back in life. With a new understanding of why we developed these dysfunctional behaviours in the first place, we can also now begin the process of treating ourselves with compassion and understanding; in short, we can start to forgive ourselves.

We now know that these unhelpful behaviours need not be a permanent part of ourselves.

What is described above is referred to by many psychologists as post-traumatic growth – you can read one of my articles on this by clicking here.

RESOURCES :

MP3s :

Many interesting hypnosis MP3s relating to the above may be found by clicking here (or see my ‘RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS’ section by clicking on this in the MAIN MENU).

eBooks :

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Above ebook now available for immediate download from Amazon. $4.99. Other titles available. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

PTSD : Childhood Trauma and Other Risk Factors

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We have already seen that severe childhood trauma can lead to PTSD or Complex PTSD (click here to read my article on the difference between these two conditions).

However, not every child who experiences severe childhood trauma will go on to develop these conditions – whether or not s/he does will also depend on other risk factors being either present or absent. Because of individual differences relating to these other risk factors, some young people will be more predisposed to developing PTSD or Complex PTSD than others.

The main other risk factors are as follows:

– BIOLOGICAL

– GENETIC

– PSYCHOLOGICAL

– PHYSIOLOGICAL

– ENVIRONMENTAL

Let’s examine each of these in turn:

1) BIOLOGICAL : Studies have found that those individuals with a high level of the hormone CORTISOL (a hormone related to stress) in their bodies are more susceptible to the effects of stress and are therefore more likely to develop PTSD/Complex PTSD than those who naturally produce lower levels of this hormone.

2) GENETIC : Studies reveal that those who have a fault in the gene that codes for monoamine oxidase (a naturally produced brain chemical associated with depression) are at increased risk of becoming aggressive/violent under stress which is one of the symptoms of PTSD/Complex PTSD – this suggests those with the faulty gene are more likely to respond dysfunctionally to trauma compared to those who possess a non-faulty version of this gene.

Also, it has been found that those who are genetically vulnerable to the adverse effects of stress are also at greater risk of developing PTSD/Complex PTSD

3) PSYCHOLOGICAL : An individual’s RESILIENCE (click here to read my article on this entitled ‘SIX VITAL FACTORS THAT MAKE A CHILD MORE RESILIENT TO TRAUMA‘) is also a very important factor relating to how likely s/he is to develop PTSD/Complex PTSD.

Those who possess a high level of resilience are more likely to be able to effectively mentally process their adverse experiences; this, in turn, increases their ability to cope with what has happened and move forward in their lives. (NB: Therapy is often important to help the individual process and make sense of his/her traumatic experience).

Furthermore, those individuals who have a naturally positive and optimistic personality type are also less likely to develop PTSD/Complex PTSD compared to those who do not.

4) PHYSIOLOGICAL : Studies on brain function have discovered that those with an overactive hypothalamic pituary adrenal axis (a specific physical brain system) are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of stress which, in turn, places them at greater risk of developing PTSD/Complex PTSD.

It is also currently suggested by some experts that those who possess a smaller than average hippocampus (a specific physical region/structure of the brain)  are more vulnerable to developing PTSD/Complex PTSD than those who don’t. However, further research is necessary before any firm conclusions may be drawn.

5) ENVIRONMENTAL : Environmental factors are extremely important in determining whether or not an individual is likely to develop PTSD/Complex PTSD.

Environments which put an individual at high risk include:

– environments in which the individual receives little emotional support to help him/her deal with the effects of the trauma

– environments in which the individual receives little support from society

– environments in which the trauma is repeated (rather than being a one-off incident)

– environments in which the trauma was deliberately inflicted upon the individual

My next article will look at how the individual’s experiences pre- and post-trauma also determine his/her likelihood of developing PTSD/Complex PTSD.

 

RESOURCES :

HELP WITH PTSD – ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS

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Above ebook available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS AND/OR TO VIEW MY OTHER TITLES.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma : The Manipulative Parent

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There are many ways in which the parent may manipulate their offspring, including: 

– emotional blackmail

– threats (explicit or implicit)

– deceit

– control through money/material goods

– positive reinforcement of a behaviour which is damaging to the child

– coercion

Because parental manipulation can take on very subtle guises, when we were young we may not have been aware that we were being manipulated; we may only come to realize it, in retrospect, with the extra knowledge we have gained as adults.

POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF PARENTAL MANIPULATION :

If we have been significantly manipulated, it can give rise to various negative feelings such as :

– self-doubt

– resentment/anger

– shame/guilt

– a deep and painful sense of having been betrayed

EXAMPLES OF PARENTAL MANIPULATION :

– causing the child to believe that s/he will only be loved by complying with the parent’s wishes at all times; in other words, there is an ABSENCE of unconditional love.

– causing the child to feel excessive guilt for failing to live up to the parent’s expectations/demands

– with-holding love as a form of punishment to cause emotional distress

– direct or implied threats of physical punishment

– physical punishment

– making the child feel s/he is ‘intrinsically bad’ for not always bending to the parent’s will

– spoiling the child and then accusing him/her of ingratitude

– making the child believe s/he is ‘uncaring’ for not fully meeting the parent’s needs

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WHY DO SOME PARENTS BEHAVE MANIPULATIVELY?

The reasons a parent manipulates his/her offspring are often subtle and complex. However, explanations may include

– the parent is narcissistic (click here to read my article on this)

– the parent has a grandiose self-view (often linked to above)

– the parent has low self-esteem/feelings of inadequacy and so abuses the power they do have as a form of overcompensation for own shortcomings

– failure of the parent to view the child as a separate, distinct and unique individual, but, rather, to view him/her as an ‘extension of themselves’ so that the child feels responsible for the parent and becomes ‘enmeshed’ in the relationship (this is also linked to the narcissistic personality – click here to view my article entitled :’HOW NARCISSISTIC PARENTS MAY ‘PARENTIFY’ THEIR CHILD’)

SOLUTIONS :

The effects of having been significantly manipulated by a parent in early life can have serious negative consequences in terms of our emotional development ; these consequences may be very long -lasting.

As adults, if we are still in contact with the parent, it is likely that the relationship remains problematic. We may have pointed out their propensity to manipulate, but to no avail – indeed, perhaps only making things worse.

So, what is the best way to cope with the relationship?

Essentially, we are less likely to be manipulated if we :

– develop good self-esteem (click here)

– develop a strong self-concept/sense of identity (click here)

– developing strong assertiveness skills

– being confident enough to refuse to do what we don’t want to do

– being confident enough to ask for what we do want

– have the confidence to act according to our own values and convictions

Many of these qualities can be strengthened through a forms of therapies called COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY, HYPNOTHERAPY, OR A COMBINATION OF THE TWO (click here).

Ebooks which may be of interest:

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Above ebooks (and other titles) by David Hosier MSc now available on Amazon. Instant download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Childhood Trauma Leading to Development of Negative Schema

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

The term ‘schema‘ refers to the fundamental beliefs and feelings we have about ourselves, others, and the world in general – together with how these interact. They are very deep rooted and enduring.

We develop our schema during childhood and if our childhood is traumatic these schema can become extremely negative, dysfunctional and maladaptive.

This is especially likely to occur if :

– our parent is abusive/cruel/constantly highly critical

– our parent is highly punitive, leading us to internalize this negative voice

– our parent abandoned/rejected us

– our parent failed to meet our basic needs, such as to be loved, to be shown affection, to be made to feel safe

– we experienced neglect/deprivation

– our parent ignored us/constantly derided us/treated us with contempt

Once negative schema are formed, they become deeply embedded into our personality structure and very hard to change.

THE EFFECTS OF HAVING DEVELOPED NEGATIVE SCHEMA DUE TO CHILDHOOD TRAUMA :

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When situations occur in our adult life which remind us (usually unconsciously) of a traumatic experience in our early life, the specific schema which formed due to that traumatic experience can be TRIGGERED (see diagram above), which, in turn, will :

– negatively distort our thinking

– negatively disrupt our emotions

– negatively disrupt our behaviour

– negatively affect how we feel

EXAMPLES OF NEGATIVE SCHEMA :

1) If we were betrayed by our parents as children, we are likely to develop a schema of general mistrust of others

2) If we were constantly criticized/disapproved of/punished as children, we may develop a schema of self- inadequacy

DYSFUNCTIONAL COPING STRATEGIES :

Sometimes, in order to try to deal with negative schema, a person may employ dysfunctional coping strategies. For example, an individual who possesses a schema that causes him to view himself as essentially inadequate may attempt to over-compensate by becoming an obsessive workaholic.

INTERPERSONAL SCHEMA, REPETITION AND RE-ENACTMENT :

Our interpersonal schema are largely dictated by the relationship we had with our parent/s as we grew up. If these relationships were bad, the negative schema we develop as a consequence (eg. that others cannot be relied upon) can sabotage our adult relationships.

One reason for this is that, as was originally pointed out by Sigmund Freud, very often we are UNCONSCIOUSLY COMPELLED to form adult relationships which MIRROR our childhood relationships. For example, a person who was physically abused as a child may be drawn into forming relationships in her adult life with partners who are also likely to physically abuse her. This occurs as a subconscious attempt to gain mastery over the original, traumatic, childhood relationship with the abusive parent.

WHY ARE NEGATIVE SCHEMA SO DIFFICULT TO CHANGE?

The reason for this is that schema are stored in the EMOTIONAL centre of the brain, called the AMYGDALLA.  It follows, therefore, that they are not susceptible to being easily corrected by rational and logical means – in other words, through no fault of the person who holds them, negative schema caused by childhood trauma tend to be irrational in so far as they lead to dysfunction in adult life.

POSSIBLE THERAPIES :

However, it is necessary to change these maladaptive schema if the person who has them wishes to feel safe, self-assured and empowered in their adult relationships. Two therapies that can be effective are :

SCHEMA FOCUSED COGNITIVE/HYPNO-THERAPY (click here to read my article on this)

EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING THERAPY, or EMDR (click here to read my article on this)

 

Ebooks which may be of interest:

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Above ebooks now available for instant download on Amazon. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

The Possible Effects Of The Over-Controlling Parent

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Over-controlling parents inappropriately impose their own will on their child which, when excessive, can deprive him/her of developing his/her own sense of identity and prevent him/her behaving in an authentic manner.

This can lead the child to feeling angry, resentful and confused. In extreme circumstances, the parent may see the child’s will as something that needs to be broken. In order to try to achieve this, the parent may use threats to impose his/her will and treat the child’s own wishes and desires with contempt and derision.

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This places the child in an uncomfortable position as s/he has to choose between:

- placating the parent by surrendering his/her will and individuality

- following his/her own desires at the risk of constantly incurring his/her parent’s anger and disapproval

Many children, in an attempt to resolve this dilemma, may resort to being disingenuous or just plain lying. For example, they may feel compelled to be dishonest about :

- their attitudes

- their activities

- with whom they are associating

In this way, they are forced to hide their true and authentic self from their parent.

GUILT AND SELF-DOUBT:

Because the child knows his/her parent disapproves of his/her true, inner, authentic self, this can lead the child to feel guilty about who s/he really is and riddled with self-doubt about his/her own ability to make appropriate decisions about the paths s/he wishes to take in life. An example of this would be of a teenager who feels the need to hide his/her sexuality due to his/her parent’s homophobic attitudes.

FALSE SELF:

If the young person decides that s/he has no choice but to comply with his/her parent’s endeavors to control his/her attitudes, behaviours and, even, to some extent, thoughts, s/he may develop A FALSE SELF. 

Essentially, this false self has been shaped by the over-controlling parent. In this way, the boundary between the parent’s ‘self’ and the young person’s ‘self’ can become blurred, nebulous and indistinct and can lead to their (the child’s and parent’s) identities becoming ENMESHED.

Other examples of areas of a young person’s life the parent may try to control include what academic subjects the child chooses to study, what career s/he decides to follow, what religion (if any) s/he chooses to follow ,or what sports s/he chooses to participate in.

For example, in the film Billy Elliot, the domineering father wants his son to pursue boxing, whilst the boy, Billy, wishes to pursue ballet, thus setting up a major conflict between the two.

ADVERSE EFFECTS THE OVER CONTROLLING PARENT MAY HAVE ON THE YOUNG PERSON:

The young person who has been over-controlled by a parent may find, as an adult, that s/he:

– has difficulty making his/her own decisions

– finds it difficult to express his/her own opinions about subjects

– feel constantly judged by others

– is extremely sensitive about the opinion of others

– often finds it easier to lie about him/herself rather than be honest

– possesses aspects of him/herself s/he has never developed/kept hidden from others/suppressed/repressed

– find it hard to think creatively/unconventionally

If the above apply to you in your adult life, it may be that you are still being affected by your parent’s controlling behaviour from when you were a child/teenager. Becoming aware of this is often the first step to positive change.

You may also wish to purchase, or learn more, about the self-hypnosis MP3/CD entitled: ‘YOU ARE NOT YOUR PARENTS’ by clicking here.

Many similar MP3s/CDs are also available. (See ‘RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS’ section on MAIN MENU, above, for my review of these products).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Overcoming A Poor Self-Image Caused By Childhood Trauma

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‘My one regret in life is that I wasn’t born as somebody else.’ – Woody Allen.

Those of us who suffered childhood trauma caused by our parents/primary carer are very likely to have received extremely negative messages about ourselves from these people – these messages may have been stated directly or implied and intimated.

Indeed, many of us were made to feel unwanted, worthless and utterly unlovable during the crucial stage of our development when we were forming our self-image.

In other words, we INTERNALIZED these messages which, in turn, may have led to us living all our adult life believing these messages to be true and also as being an accurate reflection of the essence of who we are.

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REPETITION COMPULSION :

Furthermore, if we had a bad relationship with our parents/primary carer when we were young, we may have found that we have, since, experienced a pattern of forming similarly poor relationships with others during our adult lives; for example, perhaps we have been unconsciously drawn to form relationships with others who are likely to abuse us – this can be due to what is referred to by psychologists as a REPETITION COMPULSION (an unconscious attempt to master our adverse childhood relationship experiences).

Naturally, this lowers our view of ourselves even further as it just serves to REINFORCE our belief that we are ‘worthless and unlovable’.

 

A FORM OF’ BRAINWASHING’ :

In effect, we were programmed and ‘brainwashed’, when we were young, into a forming a FUNDAMENTAL (yet FALSE) BELIEF that we are ‘intrinsically bad’ people (click here to read my article entitled : HOW THE CHILD’S BELIEF IN HIS OWN ‘BADNESS’ IS PERPETUATED’).

Coming to fully realize and understand this is A VITAL STEP TOWARDS COMING TO VIEW OURSELVES IN A MUCH MORE POSITIVE, AND, INDEED, COMPASSIONATE, WAY.

An effective therapy (this has been backed up by many research studies) that can help us to do this is COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT) – click here to read my article on this.

It is also possible that having been indoctrinated with the belief that we are essentially bad, and having internalized this view, coupled with pent up rage about having been ill-treated in childhood, may have led us to make some significant mistakes in life.

However, we can lower the probability that we will repeat such mistakes by thinking about how we would like to change, in line with our now more positive view of ourselves (assuming we have worked at this), and then devise strategies as to how this goal may best be achieved.

It is also to point out that if we were conditioned to think ill of ourselves as children we may have found that, as adults, we have overly focused on our bad points whilst remaining oblivious to our more positive points.

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Ways to help ourselves feel better about ourselves also include :

– cutting off contact with people who make us feel bad about ourselves

– associating more with people who make us feel good about ourselves

– taking up activities which make use of, and develop, our strengths

CONCLUSION :

Clearly, the root of the problem, if we have developed a low view of ourselves, is poor self-esteem.

As already stated, there is now a good deal of evidence to suggest that CBT can effectively ameliorate this problem.

In terms of self-help, there is self-hypnosis (see the MINDFULNESS AND HYPNOSIS section of this website, specified in the MAIN MENU above, to access my articles on these topics).

To purchase a hypnotherapy CD/MP3 to improve self-esteem (listed in the RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS section) or just to get more details about this option, click on the banner below:

OTHER RESORCES:

HELP WITH LOW SELF-ESTEEM – MIND

 

David Hosier BSc; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Childhood Emotional Abuse: An Extended List of Adult Problems that May Result

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We have already seen that, if we were emotionally abused as children, we may be harmed just as seriously as if we had suffered any other type of abuse – this is clearly backed up by solid, well controlled, research evidence.

In this article, I will collect together, in the form of a list, the types of problems we may encounter in our adult life as a result of the emotional damage that was inflicted upon us. This will serve the purpose of providing an easy point of  reference.

So here goes…

THE LIST :

– intense anger reactions following even minor provocations / outbursts of extreme rage easily triggered

– recurring feelings that life is not worth living given the intense emotional pain it entails

– feelings of being incapable of dealing with life’s relentless demands

– frequent and intense feelings of wanting to escape responsibilities

– regard other people’s opinions us far more important than our own (although may not show this on the surface; indeed, outward behaviour may suggest to others that the opposite view is held))

– an intense desire to win the approval and admiration of others

– automatically self-blame when things go wrong

– inability to control own emotions

– highly sensitive to others’ emotions

– fear of never being capable of living up to others’ expectations

– highly indecisive

– deep fear regarding what the future may hold / a constant sense of imminent doom / always expecting the worst possible outcome

– an inability to tolerate own failings and weaknesses

– deep fear of taking risks that most people would regard as worth taking, resulting in not progressing at work, not daring to even attempt to form relationships etc.

– feel undeserving if good things happen  /feel guilty about indulging in pleasurable activities as believe we ‘don’t deserve them’

– when good things do happen, a feeling of suspicion emerges (eg. ‘this is surely too good to be true  /too good to last). For example, I used to think that if I won the lottery, it was overwhelmingly probable that I’d drop dead of a heart attack within a month (maximum!) of receiving my financial windfall.

– difficulty keeping as job (often, this may be due to problems interacting with authority figures / extreme difficulty accepting criticism)

– fear of taking a challenging job due to intense concerns about failing at it, thus not fulfilling vocational potential (linked to fear of risk taking, see above)

– derive comfort / ameliorate emotional pain from such things as cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, frequent casual sex etc. (in its intense form, such behaviour is referred to by psychologists as ‘dissociating’click here to read my article about this). Also, a belief that it would be impossible to give up such activities as this would render life utterly intolerable

– indulgence in hedonistic behaviour as a way of compensating self for childhood suffering

– fear that, in a relationship, will be taken advantage of and exploited

– incomprehension regarding what others could possibly see in us , and, therefore, holding a kind of, ‘I wouldn’t want to join any club that would have me as a member’ (Groucho Marx) attitude – only applied to relationships (as expressed by Woody Allen in the opening sequence of his film  Annie Hall).

– prepared to tolerate being abused in a relationship due to a feeling of ‘deserving no better’

– feel a desperate need to be in a relationship with another person in order to feel ‘validated’ as an individual ; this is linked to a poor sense of identity which may also result from having suffered childhood emotional abuse – click here to read my article on identity problems relating to a problematic childhood

– a feeling of having to hide ‘true self’ from others, as this ‘true self’ is ‘utterly unlovable.’

– a feeling of constant physical malaise, but, also, a lack of motivation to do anything about it (eg. taking more exercise, stopping smoking, eating more healthily etc.)

– constant feelings of anxiety and/or frequent feelings of intense panic, perhaps including hyperchondria

– deep sense that there must be something profoundly and irredeemably wrong with us

CONCLUSION :

The worse one’s experience of childhood emotional abuse was, the more of the above symptoms one is likely to have, and the more intense such symptoms are likely to be (all else being equal).

Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) can significantly ameliorate such problems.

In terms of self-help, options include learning ‘mindfulness meditatation’ or trying self-hypnosis (see ‘Mindfulness and Hypnosis’ listed in the MAIN MENU, above).

because many of the above symptoms are strongly linked to low self-esteem, you may wish to try the self-esteem MP3 or CD offered by HypnosisDownloads.com (see my ‘RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS’ section by clicking it in the MAIN MENU, above, for my review of such products).

To view details of the self-esteem MP3/CD, click on the banner below:

OTHER RESOURCES :

HELP WITH EMOTIONAL ABUSE (HEALTHY PLACE.COM)

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma : The ‘Silent Treatment’.

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‘Silence can be as vindictive as speech’ – Anon.

My mother was the master, or, in her case, the mistress, of this technique. She would retreat into menacing and ominous non-communication so that a black atmosphere, a harbinger of doom, permeated the house, evoking feelings of intense anxiety and fear – even terror.

I remember that she even utterly ignored me on my 13th birthday ( I don’t actually recall why – presumably, I had infringed one of her mysterious, unfathomable and esoteric rules). I remember leaving for school and thinking that birthdays were over-rated anyway, thus cementing and hardening further the cynical outlook on life I hard long since adopted, even at this tender age.

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I don’t like birthdays to this day. However, I must confess that it also has something to do with getting older. As one of Anthony Powell’s characters (I forget which) put it : ‘Getting older is like being increasingly penalized for a crime one hasn’t committed.’

Parents who give their children the ‘silent treatment’ intend, unambiguously, to punish them. By not communicating verbally, they tacitly and powerfully convey their disapproval and anger. The child is made to feel unworthy and like a pariah, not fit to associate with ‘decent’ people. Furthermore, the parent is in the position to continue to make the child feel like this indefinitely, which gives him/her (i.e. the parent) a feeling of power and control.

Indeed, the strategy derives from the parent’s desire for such power.

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The child may be forced to undergo this humiliating treatment for hours, or, at the worst end of the spectrum, even for days or months.

If the child tries to ‘redeem’ him/herself in the parent’s eyes, this can further the parent’s sense of power and control – it gives the parent the choice of extending the punishment, thus thwarting the child’s desires, or, ‘magnanimously’, granting ‘mercy’.

If the child, due to the emotional distress s/he is caused, becomes angry, the parent may derive satisfaction from the fact – in the mind of the parent, the child has proved s/he deserves punishment due to this ‘further bad behaviour’ (i.e. the, in reality, completely understandable sense of anger and injustice the child feels in response to the parent’s rejection of him/her. In relation to this, click here to read my article entitled ‘HOW THE CHILD’S VIEW OF HIS OWN ‘BADNESS’ IS PERPETUATED).

The parent, on the other hand, may view him/herself, sanctimoniously and hypocritically, as the ‘decent and reasonable’ one, having been ‘big enough’ not to resort to anger him/herself, unlike his/her ‘wayward’ offspring.

Thus, the parent’s high-handed attitude can further anger the child, further ‘vindicating’ the parent (from the parent’s own warped and self-serving perspective).

This is what makes the ‘silent treatment’ so insidious, and, indeed, invidious.  At its worst it can lead to the development of a vicious circle with terrible consequences.

In such a situation, family therapy may well spare family members from much unnecessary suffering.

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Above ebooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE. 

(Other titles also available.)

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma : Long-Term Effects and Symptoms

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

Although I have written at length about the effects of childhood trauma on our adult life, I thought, in this post, I would simply list these in order to provide an easy reference point to these main symptoms.

You can read my articles about the specific symptoms, and how they relate to childhood  trauma, by clicking where it says ‘click here’ after the specific symptom in which you are interested.

THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS AND SYMPTOMS OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA :

As we have already seen, childhood trauma may be caused by emotional, sexual or physical abuse. If we have experienced it, it can cause us to develop the following symptoms in our adult life :

-poor sense of own identity (click here)

-low self-esteem (click here)

-low confidence

-inability to control our emotions (click here)

-loneliness and social isolation

-perfectionism

-unrealistic guilt (click here)

-anxiety (click here)

-failure syndrome (a feeling that any success we have is undeserved – instead, it is seen as a fluke and there is constant dread that one’s ‘true ineptitude’ (as the individual sees it) will be exposed at any minute

-violent mood swings

-crisis orientation (an intense need to deal with the crises of others)

-depression (click here)

-unresolved anger (click here)

-unresolved resentment

-sexual acting out (click here)

-eating disorders (click here)

-addictions (click here)

-hypochondria

-panic attacks

-phobias

-chronic fatigue syndrome (click here)

-migraine headaches

-codependency (click here)

-inability to form/maintain relationships (click here)

-excessive compliance

-excessive passivity

-borderline personality disorder (BPD) click here

-post traumatic stress disorder/complex post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD?CPTSD) click here

-transference of needs (if we were not loved and shown affection as children we may, in our adult lives, substitute other things for them such as alcohol, drugs, sex and food).

 

Suffering significant childhood trauma is so damaging because it outlives, sometimes by decades (without appropriate therapeutic intervention), the actual period for which the trauma was directly experienced. However, there are effective treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (click here to read my article on this).

For self-help, a place to start is to use the techniques of MINDFULNESS MEDITATION (click here), SELF-HYPNOSIS, or a combination of both. In relation to this, I particularly recommend  (I have used their products to my own benefit) HypnosisDownloads.com, who provide self-hypnosis MP3s/CDs to help with the treatment of many of the above problems (just type the relevant problem into their search engine).

To visit their site, please click on the banner below. Alternatively, see my ‘RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS’ page by clicking on this item in the main menu, where I provide product reviews.

 David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Childhood Trauma: Mentally Ill Parents

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Sometimes, the reason we have experienced childhood trauma is that one, or both, of our parents was/were suffering from mental illness. How are we to respond to such a situation?

For example, what if our parent was diagnosed as suffering from psychosis or from some type of organic brain damage? Compassion and understanding must be appropriate here, although this in no way negates the emotional pain that has been inflicted.

If we know our parent was totally incapacitated and ‘out of control’, we can, in our more rational moments, at least understand we surely do not need to take their behaviour towards us personally and that it was not due to any failing of our own?

But what if the manner in which our parent treated us does not seem to warrant such mitigation? What if we feel that our parent was ‘bad’, rather than ‘mad’? And, furthermore, how do we come to this decision?

We may decide our parent is ‘bad’, rather than mentally ill, if, for example:

– they fail to protect us from serious harm due a putting their own needs first (i.e. sacrificing the child’s happiness so they may pursue their own)

– abandonment due to laziness/self-centredness/to be released from their responsibilities

– causing the child deliberate suffering (e.g. issuing violent threats – my own mother used to threaten to ‘murder’ me, or, if she were feeling more kindly disposed, would merely announce she wished she’d never given birth to me) in order to derive a sense of power

– using the child as a weapon against another parent / a pawn in their game against the other parent (eg. indoctrinating the child to view the other parent as ‘evil’ when the other parent has done nothing to deserve this)

Obviously, there are many other examples I could have given; the list is far from exhaustive.

It is often a grey area as to whether we should consider our parents ‘mad’ or ‘bad’, and the judgment will be (without professional corroboration) subjective. However, some behaviours, such as those examples provided above, may incline many of us to apply the latter description rather than the former.

Also, our view of our parent will reflect our own biases, especially as such biases will be largely unconscious.

RESOURCES:

HELP FOR THOSE WITH MENTALLY ILL PARENTS (BCF)

 

EBOOKS :

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Above ebooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Tonic Immobility: A Response To Childhood Trauma

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Our stress responses are the legacy of millions of years of evolution – evolution turns us (and all living courses) into ‘survival machines’ and our stress response (when working correctly) is a vital element in our survival ‘tool kit’.

Most of us are familiar with the stress response known as the ‘fight or flight.’ response. This evolved because if our distant ancestors were threatened by, say, a wild animal, they would respond physiologically (due to increased adrenalin production etc) in a way that helped them to fight the danger off, or, (more likely) run away.

However, if neither the option of fighting or running away is feasible (e.g. because the threatened individual is very young), another stress response is likely to be activated which is called TONIC IMMOBILITY.

When the tonic immobility response is activated, the following physiological responses occur:

– REDUCTION IN HEART RATE

– REDUCTION IN BLOOD PRESSURE

which results in :

– THE BODY BECOMING COMPLETED SLOWED DOWN/ALMOST PARALYZED

– THE THREATENED INDIVIDUAL ENTERING A KIND OF MENTAL TRANCE

tonic_immobility

However, whilst s/he is still consciously aware of what is going on, s/he will also feel:

– CUT OFF FROM REALITY (this is sometimes referred to by psychologists as ‘DEREALIZATION’)

– CUT OFF FROM SELF (this is sometimes referred to by psychologists as ‘DEPERSONALIZATION.’)

The threatened individual feels like an observer of his/her own perilous situation, rather than being directly and personally caught up in it. This serves to protect him/her from feeling the intense and distressing emotions which would normally accompany a very frightening event.

This stress reaction, like the ‘FIGHT/FLIGHT’ response, HAS ALSO DEVELOPED AS A WAY OF PROTECTING OURSELVES FROM DANGER. At first, this may seem counter-intuitive, almost as if we have made ourselves a ‘sitting duck’.

However, in our evolutionary past, the response may have helped (if no other option were available to us) because, if a wild animal were threatening us, and we became immobile and totally passive, we may have been perceived as harmless, or, even, as already being dead. Hopefully, this would lead the predator to losing interest.

HOW DOES SUCH A RESPONSE HELP THE CHILD?

The same response may be activated today, if, for example, a child is feeling extremely threatened by, perhaps, a drunken and raging father (or mother). In response to the danger, the child, in no position to escape or fight back, may ‘freeze’ so as to reduce the likelihood of provoking actual physical attack and, also, psychologically ‘cut off’ to prevent being overwhelmed by terror. As alluded to above, the child may feel s/he is a distant observer of the situation, rather than being physically present.

Such a state is sometimes called a ‘DISSOCIATIVE’ state (click here to read my article about this phenomenon) and, because the child mentally ‘disconnects’, s/he may, in the future, have no memory of it.

However, following such a traumatic incident which has led to this state of TONIC IMMOBILITY, great emotional distress can also emerge – indeed, this can be a precursor to the development of post traumatic stress disorder (click here to read my article on this).

It is also important to note that the tonic immobility response can lead to an IRRATIONAL FEELING OF SHAME AND GUILT as the victim may, unnecessarily, torment him/herself by asking him/herself why s/he did not put up a fight, even though s/he was clearly in no position to do so.

Both post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and irrational shame and guilt can be significantly alleviated by therapeutic  interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (click here to read my article on this).

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Above ebooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Does Hypnotherapy Work For Anxiety?

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In many ways, hypnotherapy is an ideal treatment for anxiety. The relaxation that hypnosis induces can significantly reduce both emotional arousal and the physiological arousal which invariably accompanies it.

Well controlled research studies (e.g. Weldon et al) have demonstrated that the more hypnotizable an individual is, the better their outcome when being treated for anxiety. Anxiety is related to PERSISTENT NEGATIVE THOUGHTS, in particular the constant anticipation that the worst is likely to happen.

Such thoughts are often of the ‘what if…’ type, leading to the imagination conjuring up all kinds of dire predictions (the anxious individual will almost invariably vastly overestimate the chances of the worst happening AND underestimate his/her ability to cope should the worst occur. However, I know from my own experience that the fear such thinking creates is very real and can lead to severe distress).

Examples of the kinds of thoughts the anxious individual may experience are :

– ‘ what if my partner leaves me? – I’ll die lonely and unhappy.’

– ‘ what if I lose my job? – I’ll be on the streets and have to obtain my meals from garbage cans.’

– ‘ what if this new mole on my hand is skin cancer? – I’ll be dead within a month and die horribly, or else my hand will be amputated and my juggling career will be severely hampered.’

The term for this kind of thinking, you will not be surprised to discover, is CATASTROPHIZATION. Such thinking processes are often deeply ingrained in those who suffer anxiety; indeed, such catastrophization can become intrusive and obsessive causing, as I have said, considerable anguish. My own anxiety required that I was sometimes hospitalized.

THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS. When we are anxious, a vicious circle can develop : our negative, even paranoid, thinking causes us to experience adverse physiological symptoms (e.g. sweating, dizziness, tremors, dry mouth, stomach upsets, physical tension, restlessness etc) and these symptoms, in turn, intensify our negative thinking. In this way the mental and physiological symptoms feed off one another in a king of anti-symbiotic relationship.

Hypnosis can address both of these categories of symptoms in a two-pronged attack – it can reduce negative thinking and encourage their replacement with more realistic, positive thoughts by utilizing a technique, based upon the psychologist, Beck’s, cognitive behavioural therapy model (click here to read my article on this) AND training the individual to use powerful, physical relaxation techniques.

However, acquiring the new skills requires several hypnotherapy sessions, which is why a good hypnotherapist will provide the client with a recording of the session so that s/he (the client) can repeatedly listen to it at home, thus making it more likely the new skills will take permanent root in his/her mind.

Alternatively, visit the hypnotherapy site I recommend (click on RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS in the MAIN MENU) where you can purchase a hypnotherapy MP3 or CD for anxiety which has been created by established professionals – or CLICK HERE to directly view details of their product.

Books:

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Above ebooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma Leading to The Inability to Trust

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

One of the most harmful legacies of childhood trauma is the survivor’s incapacity to develop trust in others.

When we were children, in the face of abuse, we felt powerless. This may have been because, in our home environment, the parent exercised power in a way that was inconsistent, arbitrary, chaotic, erratic and grossly unreasonable; in other words, the parent abused their power.

Because, when young, we may have found ourselves living in a perpetual state of severe fear of what our parent might do next, many of us would have become HYPER-ALERT to any signs of danger; indeed, it is likely we became extraordinarily adept at sensing our abusive parent’s inner psychological/emotional state, leading us to develop the ability to perceive, to an almost uncanny degree, even the most subtle changes in our parent’s tone of voice/body language/facial expression.

Indeed, when I was still extremely young, I could detect, on a subliminal level and almost instantaneously, I think, the tiniest change in my mother’s countenance, thus enabling me to accurately infer and assess her dramatic, totally unpredictable and frightening shifts in mood.

In order to protect themselves, some young people who find themselves in such a terrible situation develop the psychological defence mechanism of DISSOCIATION (click here to read my article on this).

In my own case, when I was about eight years old, I started to blot out from my conscious awareness people’s voices, at times, if what they were saying posed an overwhelming psychological threat – for example, if the teacher was talking to the class about family life, my brain would stop registering what was being said; this was so extreme that even if my name were called out several times I did not (indeed, could not) respond. Eventually, the school put me in touch with a doctor to determine if I was going deaf. However, my hearing was fine – my utter inability to hear on these occasions was just a powerful psychological defence mechanism.

Nobody, however, saw fit to do anything about this (surely?) alarming state of affairs.

I have been informed of this phase of my life by people who knew me then. However, I have no memory whatsoever of the period, including no recollection whatsoever of seeing the doctor who carried out the hearing test.

Classic dissociation.

I should note, too, that research now shows that the more severe the abuse, the more adept the young person being abused becomes at unconsciously employing dissociative psychological defences, such as the one described above.

Because s/he is living in constant fear, the child learns that the very adult who is supposed to care for/protect/nurture him/her is, in fact, the very source of danger. S/he also learns that other people, who have a duty to protect him/her, cannot be relied upon or trusted (assuming that none of these people effectively intervene). Often, this will be the other parent who may, therefore, be considered to be complicit in the abuse (in the sense of being negligent and also in the sense of essentially enabling the abusive parent to continue their abuse with impunity).

In response to this parent’s non-intervention, the child feels abandoned and betrayed – as if s/he has been thrown to (or, at least, left to) the wolves.

In fact, the child may be even more hurt, and, therefore, angry and resentful, about this abandonment and betrayal than about the actual abuse itself; indeed,  to the child, it is as if the scale of the betrayal has not been merely doubled, but squared. Or cubed.

As a result, rage and fantasies of revenge against the parent, even fantasies of patricide or  matricide, are normal (although, of course, such fantasies are virtually never carried out, I hasten to add!).

HOW DO WE, AS CHILDREN, MAINTAIN HOPE IN SUCH A SITUATION?

In order to maintain hope, which is psychologically essential, as children we very frequently develop, as a defence, a profound and unshakeable belief that we must be ‘innately bad’, or, even, ‘innately evil.’ This serves the following purposes :

a) It follows from this belief, we can reason to ourselves, that we ‘deserved’ the abuse because we are bad, not our parents. This self-deluded belief system is, in fact, less psychologically damaging to us than having to confront the truth that our parents are an active danger to us – we are unable to assimilate such an appalling truth.

b) Believing that we are ‘bad’ and deserving of our abuse gives us both hope and the illusion of control, as it follows that if only we corrected our faults the abuse would end.

The child’s feeling of being ‘bad’ may be ‘confirmed’ by the family SCAPEGOATING the child (click here to read my article which goes into this in greater detail). Indeed, a whole family legend may be created by this means of scapegoating.

In such an extraordinarily complex family situation, as children we are left deeply confused and will certainly lack the verbal skills and articulacy necessary to explain what is going on – indeed, what is happening is so exquisitely complicated it will, too, surpass our understanding.

We are, therefore, unable to defend ourselves verbally so will, in many cases, ACT OUT OUR ANGER AND DISTRESS. Unfortunately, this will confirm, in our own minds, our belief that we are ‘bad’. Furthermore, such behaviour may be used as evidence by the scapegoating family that it is, indeed, us ourselves who are at fault, thus perpetuating the family mythology and used against us.

This problem is compounded if we do not only direct our anger at our parent but, also, displace it onto those who do not deserve it. By so doing, we incriminate ourselves further in the respective (and, in a sense, possibly collective) minds/mind of our family, and, indeed, in our own minds.

SOME EFFECTS OF NOT DEVELOPING TRUST:

Because our experiences prevent us from developing the capacity to trust others we also fail to develop a sense of inner safety. We may feel constantly in danger, even years or decades after the abuse has stopped, and therefore turn to external, self-destructive forms of temporary comfort such as excessive drinking, drug taking and promiscuous sex.

Ironically, too, we may cling to the parent who damaged us in the desperate, yet forlorn, hope that we may, finally, come to be able to depend on them.

 

RESOURCES :

HELP WITH DEVELOPING TRUST (GOODTHERAPY.ORG)

 

EBOOKS :

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The above ebooks are now available for immediate download from Amazon at $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSC Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

The Self-Contradictory Behaviour of The Narcissistic Parent

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If we grew up with a parent who suffered from narcissistic personality disorder (click here to read my article on this) it is likely to have taken a heavy toll on our emotional development.

One of the most confusing and frustrating aspects of dealing with a narcissistic parent is that they seem to have two sides to their personality which appear to be diametrically opposed (although, actually, they are inter-related – two sides of the same coin, as it were).

The dichotomy at the heart of the personality of the narcissistic individual is that they, unpredictably, oscillate between acting in a GRANDIOSE manner and, at other times, in a NEEDY and DEPENDENT MANNER. Indeed, they may well change from one manner to the other in the course of a single encounter/argument/confrontation.

So, dealing with a narcissistic parent can be rather like a batsman in a cricket game facing fierce, fast-paced bouncers one minute, and slow, tricky spinners the next – always sans indication of what to expect.

Furthermore, whichever side of these two opposing personality types the narcissistic individual displays at any one time, its counterpart is invariably lurking just beneath the surface, co-existing and ready to emerge without warning or notice.

However, there is no deliberate ‘scheming’ involved – the presentation of the alternative personalities is operated on an UNCONSCIOUS LEVEL and serves, for the narcissistic individual, as a CRUCIAL DEFENCE MECHANISM.

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THE GRANDIOSE PERSONALITY STATE :

In grandiose ‘mode’, the following characteristics can be frequently observed :

– superiority/surface arrogance/displays of utter contempt for others

– surface feelings of being very powerful

– desire for complete control/controlling behaviour

– sense of own great importance/specialness

– desire to be loved/adored/profoundly respected

THE ‘NEEDY’ PERSONALITY STATE :

If the grandiose personality state is operating, one can be certain that, just beneath the surface, the needy personality state is lurking (in this way, the grandiose personality state can be seen as a form of OVER-COMPENSATION for the latent ‘needy’ state)

In ‘needy’ mode, the narcissistic individual is likely to feel :

– as if they are utterly worthless

– as if they are completely inferior to others

– full of fear and anxiety

– deeply insecure/unsafe/threatened/in danger

HOW IS IT BEST TO DEAL WITH THE NARCISSISTIC INDIVIDUAL?

I have already said that dealing with a narcissistic individual can be extremely confusing and frustrating – indeed, in trying to do so, one can quickly find one feels disoriented and emotionally exhausted; one feels as if one is ‘walking on eggshells’ and is inevitably worried that one may say something to make the situation worse; in relation to this concern, I list, below, responses to the narcissistic individual which are usually best AVOIDED :

1) relying on rational argument

2) verbally attacking the narcissist

3) highlighting aspects of the narcissist’s behaviour you consider to be unreasonable

4) attempting to persuade the narcissist to accept responsibility for any of their destructive behaviours

Why should these approaches be avoided?

The reason that these responses are best avoided is that the narcissist has a deep, psychological need to deny and repress his/her negative thoughts/beliefs about him/herself. To achieve this, the narcissist will PROJECT his/her own faults onto others. As I have already stated, their defence mechanisms operate on an unconscious level and prevent them from accepting criticism, however rationally and tactfully presented to them.

Were they to become fully aware of their own faults and failings, they would be flooded with an overwhelming and unmanageable amount of emotional pain, shame and guilt.

EMOTIONAL INSULATION :

One method that can be useful for those who need to interact with narcissists is called the emotional insulation technique; you can read my article on this by clicking here.

RESOURCES :

Dealing with Narcissistic Behaviour hypnotherapy MP3/CD – click here (or see the ‘Recommended Products’ section of the main menu.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Ways to Control Impulsive Behaviour

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If we have suffered severe childhood trauma which has led us to develop borderline personality disorder/BPD (click here to read my article on the link between childhood trauma and BPD) one of the most harmful symptoms we suffer may be a grossly impaired ability to control impulsive behaviour.

The kinds of self-destructive, impulsive behaviours that an individual suffering from BPD may experience are :

– over-spending

– reckless driving

– binge eating

– shop- lifting

– gambling

– reckless sex (e.g. promiscuous unprotected sex) – click here to read my article on this)

– substance abuse

Often, people with BPD will give in to such impulsive activities in a desperate attempt to fill a profound sense of inner emptiness and desolation.

METHODS TO HELP US INHIBIT OUR IMPULSIVE URGES :

Three methods often recommended by psychologists to help us reduce the frequency of our impulsive behaviours are as follows :

1) REFLECTION

2) DELAY

3) DISTRACTION

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) REFLECTION – often, if we carry out an impulsive act, we deeply regret it the next day and are filled with a deep sense of shame and despair.

We can actually use this to our advantage by reflecting on such feelings we are likely to experience BEFORE we indulge ourselves in the impulsive behaviour; hopefully, through such anticipation of how we will feel later, we are less inclined to go ahead and carry the impulsive behaviour out.

In order to utilize this strategy most effectively, many people find it very helpful to write out the following four questions on a piece of paper and then carry it around with them (e.g. in a wallet or handbag etc.), for instant reference should the need arise!

These four questions are as follows :

a) How important to me is it that I act out this impulsive act in the great scheme of things?

b) How will I feel about having carried it out tomorrow?

c) How will I feel tomorrow if I DO NOT carry out the behaviour?

d) If I indulge in the behaviour, what are the likely long-term consequences?

2) DELAY – an alternative strategy is to DELAY acting upon our impulses. For example, if we have the urge to do something that is likely to be self-destructive, such as gambling, we may experiment by delaying doing it by, say, an hour.

Then, next time, we can delay by an hour and a half, then, the time after that, by two hours…and so on…and so on…

This actually strengthens our ability to delay gratification and resist potentially harmful impulses (by strengthening relevant neurological pathways in the brain).

The goal is to strengthen this ability to such a degree that, eventually, we find it no harder to control our impulses than does the average person.

3) DISTRACTION – the third strategy entails distracting ourselves from our impulsive feelings. This method works best if we plan in advance what we might do to divert ourselves from our potentially self-destructive urges, should they arise.

Of course, chosen distractions will vary from person to person; however, I provide some examples below:

– gym

– jogging

– home exercises

– phoning a friend

– cinema/film

– taking up a hobby which we find both interesting and enjoyable

ALTERNATIVE BEHAVIOURS :

Some people with BPD are sensation/thrill seekers as they have a need to compensate for inner feelings of emptiness (see above) and this has led to their impulsive, self-destructive behaviours. More healthy (yet still exciting) behaviours which may act as  alternatives (given correct training and supervision) include :

– bungee jumping

– sky diving

– skiing

– mountain climbing

– rock climbing

– extreme sports

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and different individuals will, no doubt, find activities most appropriate to them.

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OTHER PRODUCTS :

Hypnotherapy MP3/CD for IMPROVING IMPULSE CONTROL click here.

OTHER RESOURCES :

RESEARCH INTO IMPULSIVITY (IMPULSIVITY.ORG)

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Reactive Attachment Disorder

 

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Those of us who experienced a dysfunctional relationship with our primary carer (e.g. our primary carer was abusive or neglectful, including having deprived us of affection/nurturing) when we were young may have developed REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER. This can mean that our brain development (both structural and functional) was adversely affected, leading to emotional and behavioural problems both in childhood and, later, in adulthood. (CLICK HERE to read my article on how early life trauma can physically harm the developing brain).

One of the most common outcomes resulting from this is that our ability to form healthy adult relationships is significantly impaired, leading to a great deal of personal suffering and loneliness.

Because of our problematic relationship with our primary carer, it is likely that, as children, we learned to believe that others cannot be trusted and that they pose a threat to our emotional well-being. We may well, therefore, be acutely suspicious of others and be quick to perceive faults in them (both real and imagined).

THE TRIGGERING OF MEMORIES OF OUR ORIGINAL DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR PRIMARY CAREGIVER :

The reason that we are likely to continue to have difficulties in other relationships is that new relationships frequently trigger memories of our original dysfunctional relationship with our primary caregiver. This, in turn, gives us a propensity to react negatively to those who have INADVERTENTLY REMINDED US OF OUR CHILDHOOD ORDEAL (very often this will occur on an UNCONSCIOUS LEVEL).

BELIEFS OUR DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR PRIMARY CAREGIVER MAY HAVE CAUSED SUFFERERS OF REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER TO DEVELOP:

The psychologist May identified several beliefs that sufferers of reactive attachment disorder are at risk of developing; I list these below:

1) That they must have somehow ‘deserved’ their treatment at the hands of the caregiver and, therefore, must be ‘bad’ or in some way ‘deficient’

2) Have a strong belief that they must be in control in order to survive and avoid further profound emotional hurt

3) That they can ‘never get anything right’

4) That they are ‘fully deserving’ of being thought of badly by others

5) Other people are essentially malevolent and to be despised

6) Others cannot be trusted (particularly those in authority as these people are especially likely to trigger memories of how they were treated by their primary caregiver in childhood)

7) That they will always behave badly as they are ‘an intrinsically bad person’ – this belief is the view their primary caregiver took (at least at times) which they have INTERNALIZED (i.e. they have absorbed this negative view of themselves, as if by osmosis, into their own belief system)

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE POSSIBLE CAUSES OF REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER : 

Possible causes of reactive attachment disorder include :

1) Abuse in early life (physical/sexual/emotional)

2) Early separation from the primary caregiver

3) Being brought up in a chaotic/dysfunctional family (click here to read my article on the signs of a dysfunctional family. Or to read my article about how dysfunctional families can select and victimize a ‘scapegoat’ (often the most sensitive and vulnerable child of the family) click here).

4) Extremely inconsistent parenting

5) Repeated change of foster parents

6) Many house moves in early life

7) Maternal substance abuse (alcohol/drugs).

8) Severe maternal depression

9) Lack of emotional bonding between the mother and child (e.g. the mother lacks a maternal instinct, rejects the child or does not have sufficient mothering skills – in relation to the  latter, this can sometimes be the case with extremely young mothers)

BELOW : A SIMPLIFIED MODEL OF THE FORMATION OF REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER:

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POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS OF REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER :

Possible symptoms include :

– avoidance of eye contact

– extreme tantrums

– resistance against affectionate physical contact

– age regression (click here to read my article on age regression)

Reactive attachment disorder has the greatest chance of being successful treated if THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTIONS ARE MADE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Learning to Escape Past and Live in Present After Childhood Trauma

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

One of the main effects of having suffered significant childhood trauma is that we can become painfully caught up in the past, sometimes reliving our experiences again and again as if we were actually re-experiencing them in the immediate present. This can lead to great distress and can be manifested in the form of obsessive and intrusive thoughts, flahbacks and nightmares (click here to read my article about how painful memories of early life trauma can remain unprocessed).

TEACHING OURSELVES TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT:

Teaching ourselves to live in the present is beneficial in itself; however, importantly, it also enables us to distance ourselves sufficiently from our traumatic childhood experiences so that we are in a better position to confront, process and resolve the very negative effect that they are likely to have had upon us.

We need to fully understand that our traumatic experiences are in the past and do not exist in the present so that we may adjust our behaviour appropriately (as we may well have developed defensive – but dysfunctional – coping mechanisms which are no longer in our best interests to maintain e.g. drinking excessively, being deeply suspicious of others at all times e.t.c)

MINDFULNESS:

learn-minfulness

Meditation, particularly ‘MINDFULNESS’, is an effective way to help us to live in the present and to significantly reduce feelings of anxiety and depression – indeed, its effectiveness is now backed up by numerous research studies).

The psychologist, Lineham, stresses the importance of the following skills which can be greatly enhanced through learning how to pracice mindfulness:

1) FOCUSING ATTENTION :

– concentrate on one task/activity at a time and try to immerse yourself in it as fully as possible (rather like a young child at play)

– avoid distractions such as worrying about what has to be done next

2) ACCEPTANCE :

– fully accept that your childhood traumatic experiences were not your fault

– fully accept yourself as you are now without making negative judgments – but also accept that you may have developed some behaviours, in response to your traumatic childhood experiences which you unconsciously developed to protect yourself (e.g. extreme aggression) but which it is now counter-productive to maintain as the danger of childhood has past

3) OBSERVE :

– notice what is happening around you dispassionately (i.e. without becoming emotionally involved or making judgments)

– just calmly ‘observe’ your own thought processes. Do not fight negative thoughts (click here to read my article about why ‘fighting’ negative thoughts can actually make them worse). Instead, just ‘watch’ them, and be aware of them, passing transiently through your consciousness as if they were merely leaves floating gently past you in a river, and are unable to do you harm in any way.

– become more acutely aware of present experiences, utilizing all of the five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell); this helps to make the present more vivid and ‘real’

4) DESCRIBE :

– describe experiences and feelings in words (e.g. ‘I am now feeling angry’). This helps to provide distance between yourself and your experience/feelings, which in turn can give you greater control and reduce emotional over-reactivity/dysregulation.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES :

A good way for a beginner to start practicing mindfulness can be found by clicking here, or by visiting the ‘Recommended Product Reviews’ section of this site (see MAIN MENU).

Further information about mindfulness can be found by visiting the ‘Free Mindfulness and Hypnosis Articles’ section of this site (again, please see MAIN MENU).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Effects of Pre-Birth And Very Early Trauma

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

Neurological (brain) development can be adversely affected even before birth due to the effects of :

– poor maternal diet

– maternal tobacco smoking

– maternal use of drugs

– maternal use of alcohol

– chronic and severe maternal stress

Indeed, the foetus’s neurological development may be so adversely affected by such factors that it incurs significant harm to its mental health (and physical health) for the whole of its post-birth life.

To take one of the above factors, let’s look at the effects of severe and chronic maternal stress upon the foetus’s neurological development :

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EFFECTS OF CHRONIC AND SEVERE MATERNAL STRESS UPON THE NEUROLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE FOETUS:

If the mother is suffering from severe stress during the foetus’s neurological development, perhaps being ill with depression and/or anxiety, she will produce an excess of certain hormones, in particular, CORTISOL. The cortisol is then passed to the developing foetus in the womb and has a toxic and detrimental effect upon its brain.

In this way, due to the fact that the foetus’s NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL development is negatively affected, even at this pre-birth stage, it will start to develop AN OVER-RESPONSIVE BIOLOGICAL INTERNAL ‘ALARM SYSTEM’ making it, post-birth, much more vulnerable to the effects of stress and perceived threat.

Furthermore, if the mother continues to experience significant stress after the child has been born, the effects upon the child’s sensitivity and vulnerability to the effects of perceived threat/stressful conditions will become even more extreme and is likely to persist throughout life – assuming there is no effective therapeutic intervention (e.g. Schore, 2001).

The infant may, therefore, become demanding, tense, excessively fearful, bad-tempered and ‘nervous’ which, in turn, can result in SUB-OPTIMAL BONDING with the mother.

In this way, the problem is compounded because poor bonding between the mother and child is strongly associated with the child going on to develop damaged mental health.

Therefore, in such circumstances, a clear pattern of emotional dysregulation (i.e. emotional over-sensitivity and over-reactivity) can emerge in later life which will normally require therapeutic intervention.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

It is therefore necessary to try to increase public awareness of the possible damage done to the life chances of an individual due to ADVERSE PRE-NATAL EXPERIENCES.

Therapeutic interventions may be able to reverse this kind of neurological damage, at least to some extent, due to a property of the brain called ‘NEUROPLASTICITY’click here to read my article about this.

RESOURCES :

EFFECTS OF PRE-BIRTH TRAUMA (AUTHENTICPARENTING.ORG/INFO)

 

EBOOK :

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Four Characteristics Which Keep Us Unhappy After Childhood Trauma

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

The experience of childhood trauma makes us less likely to have a happy and contented adulthood than those who were fortunate enough to have had a relatively stable childhood (all else being equal). However, in this article I look at four characteristics that can serve to perpetuate our feelings of discontent that have been identified by the discipline known as ‘positive psychology’, and, in fact, apply to all people, not just those of us who have experienced severe childhood trauma.

The four characteristics that can perpetuate our feelings of discontentment that positive psychology has identified are as follows :

1) NEGATIVE BIAS

2) LACK OF SELF CONTROL

3) SOCIAL COMPARISON

4) HEDONISTIC TREADMILL

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) NEGATIVE BIAS – Individuals who have suffered severe childhood trauma are especially likely to have a very negative outlook on life.

Positive psychologists have found that we are more affected by negative events and experiences in life than by positive ones. For example, we are more likely to recall a criticism of us than praise of us, and more likely to remember a failure than a success.

In other words, negative experiences reduce our sense of contentment more than positive events increase it.

The psychologist Baumeister summed up the situation pithily with the comment :’bad is stronger than good.’

However, we can reduce our tendency to think negatively with therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) – click here to read my article on CBT.

2) SOCIAL COMPARISON – Many people are extremely worried about their social status which is linked to having low self-esteem. Low self-esteem frequently results from having experienced significant childhood trauma (click here to read my article on self-esteem).

Even if what a person has, in ABSOLUTE TERMS, is very satisfactory, if the majority of his/her contemporaries have noticeably more, his/her level of contentment is likely to be reduced. A classic example of this can be illustrated as follows :

Would you rather :

a) Earn £50,000 per year, whilst all your contemporaries earn £25,000 per year

or :

b) Earn £100,000 per year, whilst all your contemporaries earn £200,000 per year.

Research shows that the majority of people, due to to the ‘social comparison effect’, actually opt for the first choice (a).

However, buying lots of expensive material things does not tend to improve people’s level of contentment over the long-term, according to the research. It merely gives the individual a short-term ‘buzz’, but this very quickly fades due to a phenomenon known as the ‘hedonistic treadmill’.

3) THE HEDONISTIC TREADMILL – Individuals tend to become excited and happy when they make a large purchase but they soon adapt and habituate to whatever it is they have acquired and the initial pleasure it gave rise to disappears and the person soon ends up feeling as s/he when s/he did not have the possession.

The ‘high’of the acquisition is, then, fleeting and ephemeral – the pre-existing state of contentment/discontentment is soon returned to, known as the individual’s ‘set-point’ of contentment/discontentment.

Unfortunately, this can lead to a perpetual cycle of addiction – the postive emotions brought on by the purchase disappear fast, leading the individual feeling a need to make another purchase in order to reproduce the ‘high’. Then that ‘high’ fades too, and so on…and so on…

Interestingly, we also adapt to negative events fairly quickly. For example, even if a person has an accident leaving him/her severely disabled, whilst s/he will initially feel less content, research suggests that after the negative short/medium turn reaction, his/her level of contentment will return to its ‘set-point’ (i.e. what it was before the accident occurred).

On the other side of the coin, research also shows that people who win vast fortunes on the lottery tend to return to their ‘set-point’ of contentment (i.e. to what it was prior to their win).

4) LACK OF SELF-CONTROL – Frequently, those who have suffered significant childhood trauma find that they have greatly impaired impulse control as adults.

Sadly, however, constantly giving in to the impulse to obtain immediate gratification tends to make a person’s life much worst; indeed, research clearly indicates that developing strong self-control is strongly associated with a greater sense of well-being. (Click here to read my article on impulse control).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

How Destructive Narcissists May ‘Parentify’ Their Children

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

Dealing With Narcissistic Behaviour – CLICK ON BANNER BELOW :

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Parents who suffer from a destructive narcissist pattern (DNP) of behaviour frequently ‘parentify’ their children whereby a kind of role reversal occurs and the child is expected to act as the parent’s parent (although this may well occur on an unconscious level rather than it coming about due to a parent’s conscious decision making).

Such parents are likely to:

– use their children to feed their constant need for positive attention

– use their children to feed their insatiable need for admiration

– need to be made to feel they are particularly special/important/superior to others

– lack empathy

– regard children as an extension of themselves rather than individuals with their own needs/interests/desires

– have shallow emotions (except for fear and anxiety)

– behave in a grandiose manner

– exploit others (including own children)

– be emotionally abusive towards own children

– expect emotional support from their children, even when child obviously far too young to provide it

– expect the child to bolster and endorse his/her sense of special entitlement

Such parents lack the capacity to nurture the child and put his/her needs above their own – it tends to be more a case of what they can ‘get out of’ their children rather than what they can give them.

Also, these parents lack empathy when it comes to their children’s feelings, whilst always expecting the child to fully sympathize and empathize with their own.

Furthermore, such parents lack patience when their children are demanding and incapable of holding their children in unconditional positive regard.

Additionally, DNP parents will find it very hard to relate to/tune into the child’s own rich emotional life.

Such parents, too, tend to set their children extremely high and exacting standards of behaviour which are impossible to meet and then become very angry when the children inevitably ‘fall short’.

EFFECTS OF SUCH DNP BEHAVIOUR ON THE CHILD :

Being treated in such a way over a long period of time will frequently have a profound long-term effect upon the child. Indeed, without therapy, such effects can last for an entire lifetime.

As a result of this treatment, in adulthood the now grown child may :

-constantly expect others to manipulate him/her and, therefore, have a cynical and distrustful attitude towards them

– have a high level of anxiety about the possibility of being trapped by,and enmeshed in, the emotional needs of others

– paradoxically feeling responsible for the needs of others and ashamed and guilty that they are unable to fulfil them

In order to prevent him/herself being manipulated by others and being caught up in their needs the adult child who was brought up by the DNP parent is also likely to develop certain DEFENSE MECHANISMS. These defense mechanisms are likely to include :

- DEFIANCE

- REBELLION

- WITHDRAWAL

- APPARENT INSENSITIVITY

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) DEFIANCE – this occurs when the individual does not want to do whatever it is that others are trying to get him/her to do. It occurs because painful memories of being manipulated as a child are triggered (either on a conscious or unconscious level) and the individual desperately needs to avoid being treated in such a way again.

2) REBELLION – whereas ‘defiance’ relates to the attitude that the individual adopts, ‘rebellion’ relates to the ation they take.

Rebellion can be a healthy way to establish independence from parents but it can also be destructive if it becomes a kind of indiscriminate, reflexive, knee-jerk reaction to everything (including things that it would be in the person’s own interest to comply with).

3) WITHDRAWAL – an individual brought up by an DNP parent may constantly feel compelled to withdraw from :

– intimacy with others

– disapproval from others

– the needs of others to be ‘nurtured’

– the emotional intensity of others

– the emergence of own strong emotions

– criticism from others

Withdrawal can be emotional or physical.

It is used as a defense mechanism in order to protect the individual who was brought up by the DNP parent from those behaviours which trigger memories of how s/he was treated as a child which would cause intolerable levels of anxiety.

Unfortunately, because such defense mechanisms are automatic, they are very likely to occur even when the other individual poses no objective psychological threat and has no intention of exploiting them.

In this way, opportunities to form satisfying relationships are frequently missed.

4) SEEMING INSENSITIVITY – the individual who was brought up by the DNP parent may well, underneath, be a very sensitive person but s/he covers this up to protect him/herself due to his/her fear of being emotionally overwhelmed and manipulated by others. This can mean his/her inability to fulfil the emotional needs of others actually leaves him/her with a constant sense of guilt.

Furthermore, his/her defense mechanisms may lead him/her to be viewed by others as hard to understand and get to know, as well as cold, distant and aloof.

Sadly and paradoxically, however, the individual, deep down, may well yearn for love and affection, validation, admiration and have a strong desire to be free of his/her profound and pervasive fear of emotional intimacy.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

Childhood Trauma : What is Psychological Trauma?

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Psychological trauma occurs in response to an overwhelming event/s which an individual lacks the internal and external coping mechanisms to mentally deal with; this can lead to a very protracted period (months, years or, even, a life-time) of distress and impaired emotional, cognitive and behavioural functioning.

A person suffering from severe psychological trauma will incur negative effects on the brain, e.g. an increase in the level of stress-related neurotransmitters (neurotransmitters are chemicals which allow neurons, or brain cells, to communicate with each other) and negative hormonal changes (eg an increase in the production of adrenalin).

Also, due to the fact the effects of the trauma are so overwhelming for the susceptible individual, the brain’s natural ‘stress-reversal brake system’ fails to work.

The experience of severe psychological trauma can, in this way, be seen as a PSYCHOBIOLOGICAL event resulting in activation of the sensory nervous system, the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system (the latter refers to the brain and the spinal cord).

INTERPERSONAL TRAUMA VERSUS TRAUMA RELATED TO NATURAL DISASTERS :

The trauma response is different when it is of interpersonal origin – i.e. when a person (the perpetrator) hurts an innocent individual (the victim) – than it is when the trauma response occurs as a reaction to a natural disaster (eg an earthquake or flood).

The former results in COMPLEX-PTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) whereas the latter results in ‘ordinary’ PTSD (click here to read my article about the difference between complex-PTSD and ‘ordinary’ PTSD).

THE UNIQUE EFFECT OF TRAUMA ON YOUNG VICTIMS :

Because the child has very limited defenses against traumatic events (e.g. undeveloped problem-solving skills, meagre emotional and physical resources and, often, a poor social support system) s/he is especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of such events.

Furthermore, s/he will usually have no ‘place of safety’ to take refuge in and will, therefore, to all intents and purposes, be ‘trapped’ in the highly stressful home environment.

Whilst Social Services can intervene, often the child does not want this as it can disrupt the family and lead to the child being taken away from the family home. There is also the stigma to be considered and, unfortunately, in some cases, the extreme parental anger resulting from having been reported.

WHY INTERPERSONAL (PARENT/CARETAKER AGAINST CHILD) TRAUMA IS ESPECIALLY DAMAGING :

Being traumatized by the very person who is supposed to be caring, protecting and nurturing the child results, in many cases, in that child undergoing MASSIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA.

The development of a SAFE ATTACHMENT between the parent/caretaker and child is of FUNDAMENTAL IMPORTANCE to the child’s emotional and psychological development and to his/her chances of growing up as a well-adjusted individual.

If such a safe attachment fails to form, the results can be catastrophic, leading to :

– identity problems

– lack of personal autonomy

– inability to control emotions

– self-hatred (click here to read my article on this)

– negative view of others

– inability to form/maintain relationships (particularly intimate relationships)

– pervasive and profound feelings of insecurity

– a feeling of being disempowered/dependent upon others

– deep and enduring feelings of irrational guilt and shame

– an inability to calm self in times of stress (sometimes referred to as an inability to ‘self-soothe’)

– reduced empathy for feelings of others

– concentration and memory problems

– feelings of being generally inept

– chronic somatic (physical) problems (eg headaches, stomach problems such as IBS)

AMBIVALENCE :

Suffering trauma caused by a parent/’caretaker’ is made even more painful and confusing because, often, the young person will feel ambivalent towards this parent/’caretaker’. To put it another way, there might exist a ‘love-hate’ relationship in which the child has conflicting and ambiguous feelings towards the adult.

Because of this, the child may lie to protect the adult or rationalize the adult’s behaviour (e.g. by irrationally and falsely believing that s/he ‘deserves’ to be the victim of the adult’s behaviour because s/he is ‘bad'; this can occur because it can be psychologically preferable for the young person to see him/herself as ‘bad’ than to mentally cope with the idea that it is, in fact, the parent who is bad).

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

The Difference Between PTSD and Complex-PTSD

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

There has been some controversy regarding the difference between post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) amongst researchers.

During the early 1990s, the psychologist Judith Herman noted that individuals who had suffered severe, long-lasting, interpersonal trauma, ESPECIALLY IN EARLY LIFE, were frequently suffering from symptoms such as the following:

– disturbance in their view of themselves

– a marked propensity to seek out experiences and relationships which mirrored their original trauma

– severe difficulties controlling emotions and regulating moods

– identity problems/the loss of a coherent sense of self (click here to read my article on identity problems)

– a marked inability to develop trusting relationships

and, sometimes:

– adoption by the victim of the perpetrator’s belief system

Furthermore, some may go on to become abusers themselves, whilst others may be constantly compelled to seek out relationships with others who abuse them in a similar way to the original abuser (i.e. the parent or ‘care-taker’)

It is most unfortunate that, prior to the identification of the disorder that gives rise to the above symptoms, now referred to as COMPLEX POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, those suffering from the above symptoms were NOT recognized as having suffered from trauma and were therefore not asked about thier childhood traumatic experiences during treatment. This meant, of course, that the chances of successful treatment were greatly reduced.

Research has now demonstrated that the effects of severe, long-lasting interpersonal trauma go above and beyond the symptoms caused by PTSD.

The main symptoms of complex – PTSD are as follows:

1) severe dysregulation of mood

2) severe impulse control impairment

3) somatic (physical) symptoms (e.g. headaches, stomach aches, weakness/fatigue)

4) changes in self-perception (e.g. seeing self as deeply defective, ‘bad’ or even ‘evil’)

5) severe difficulties relating to others, including an inability to feel emotionally secure or empowered in relationships

6) changes in perception of the perpetrator of the abuse (e.g. rationalizing their abuse/idealization of perpetrator)

7) inability to see any meaning in life/existential confusion

8) inability to keep oneself calm under stress/inability to ‘self-sooth’

9) impaired self-awareness/fragmented sense of self

10) pathological dissociation (click here to read my article on DISSOCIATION)

The DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV) first named  CPTSD as: DISORDER OF EXTREME STRESS NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED (DESNOS). Now, however, CPTSD is listed as a SUB-CATEGORY of PTSD.

Whilst it is certainly true that there is an OVERLAP between the symptoms of PTSD and CPTSD, many researchers now argue that PTSD and CPTSD should be regarded as SEPARATE and DISTINCT disorders.

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Signs That A Parent May Have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is an extremely complex psychological condition. Indeed, it is not infrequently misdiagnosed as some other type of disorder, such as bipolar disorder. For these reasons there is likely to be a very large number of individuals who have the condition but are not aware of it.

And the picture is further confused by the fact that BPD often exists alongside (comorbidly) with other psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore, many who have the condition do not seek psychiatric help for the problem.

Of course, a formal diagnosis of BPD can only be made by an appropriately qualified professional. However, there are many signs to look out for that may suggest a parent has the disorder. It is to these that I now turn.

Signs That A Parent May Be Suffering From BPD:

The parent :

– shows little emotional or physical affection for the child

– invalidates/ignores/minimizes/derides/dismisses feelings that are important to the child (eg. ‘Why or you upset? – for god’s sake stop blubbering you little cry-baby’)

– responds inconsistently to the child’s behaviour – gives the child ‘mixed messages’ (this is sometimes referred to as putting the child in a ‘DOUBLE-BIND’ – click here to read my article on this)

– subjects the child to verbal cruelty – my own mother referred to me as ‘scabby’ (I self-harmed) and ‘poof’ (I was highly sensitive). Often, when I returned home from school, she would glare at me and announce, ‘Oh Christ, the little bastard’s home’. She finally kicked me out when I was thirteen)

– makes the child feel unloved/unwanted

– expects the child to meet exacting/unobtainable standards – frequently changes expectations of the child

– hinders the child from developing his/her own identity

– disputes child’s version/recall of events if it involves criticism of the parent

– creates ‘role-reversal’ (i.e. the child is treated as if s/he is the parent’s parentthis is also sometimes referred to as ‘parentification’ of the child; it may include making the child take on responsibilities that are inappropriate for his/her age (for example, I frequently had to act as my mother’s personal counsellor from the age of about ten. She reinforced this by referring to me as her ‘little psychiatrist’).

– makes the child feel on-guard and defensive all the time

– over-confides in the child (e.g. provides intimate details of sex-life)

– expects the child to be the carer/provider of emotional support

– expects child to constantly demonstrate undying loyalty and unconditional love, but DOES NOT RECIPROCATE

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Of course, such treatment as described above can have a catastrophic effect upon the child. Indeed, if the child is seriously affected, these effects can last a lifetime unless proper treatment is sought. I list some of the possible effects on the child once s/he becomes an adult below:

Possible effects on the child’s future adult life of the kind of treatment described above:

The affected person may:

– suffer severe social anxiety

– feel inadequate, unlovable, of no value and guilty

– have pervasive and chronic feelings of emptiness

– feel incapable of enjoyiong him/herself (this condition is referred to by psychologists as ‘ANHEDONIA’ – click here to read my article on this) or feel guilty about enjoying self, believing him/herself to be undeserving of happiness

– expects always to be betrayed by others/be deeply mistrustful of others

– have no sense of direction in life

– have serious problems in relationships, perhaps due to ‘repetition-compulsion’ the tendency to seek out relationships in which one is abused in a way similar to how one was abused by parents (this acts on an unconscious level)

– question his/her intuition, judgment and memory as parent will not accept his/her view of his/her childhood

– have chunks of childhood missing from memory (for instance, I can remember almost nothing about what happened to me before the age of about eight years)

– have a deep rooted fear of rejection/abandonment so will not take risks with trying to form relationships

– have a low tolerance of own mistakes/perfectionism

It should also be noted that research shows that those of us brought up by a parent with BPD are of elevated risk of developing the condition ourselves. Currently, one of the main kinds of treatment for the condition is ‘DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOUR THERAPY’ (DBT) – click here to read my article on this form of treatment.

NB: It is worth reiterating that a formal diagnosis of BPD must be made by a professional – as I have already said, it is a very complex disorder.

  51GO-KIhYmL._AA160_content_4964975_DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL40b15208-decf-40fb-aa7b-16365c5dd61e

Above ebooks now available for immediate download from Amazon. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma – The Cycle of Domestic Violence

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

I have already written an introductory article on the subject of how domestic violence may affect children (CLICK HERE) and, in this article, I want to look at the cycle that often underlies domestic violence, leading to the violence being repeated again and again in the affected household (domestic violence is most often repetitive, although it can, of course, also occur as a one off event).

THE CYCLE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE :

The cycle of domestic violence can be represented as being made up of three main elements; these are :

1) The Pre-Existing Conditions Within The Family

2) The Trigger Incident

3) The Violent Incident Itself

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) The Pre-Existing Conditions Within The Family I have said before that any type of family can be affected by domestic violence; however, families with the following types of characteristics may be particularly at risk :

– excessive use of alcohol

– use of narcotics

– very limited understanding by the parent/s of normal childhood emotional/psychological development (eg that rebelliousness during adolescence is normal)

– the parent/s have used violence against those outside of the family

– a strong emotional bond has failed to form between the child and parent

– financial anxieties

– a poor and stressful relationship between the parents

– poor communication between trhe parents

– poor social support/social isolation

– parent/s has/have low stress tolerance

– unemployment

– low self-esteem of parent/s

– parent/s have emotional problems/problems with impulse control

Of course, some families may have several of the above characteristics and different families will experience different levels of severity of the characteristics.

All else being equal, the more of the characteristics the family has, and the more severe these problems are, the greater the risk of domestic violence within the family (not least because many of the problems often compound one another).

2) The Trigger Incident : The incident that immediately precipitates the violence may be very trivial or more serious. The reason a trivial incident can trigger violence is often because the perpetrator of the violence already feels under stress (due to problems such as those referred to above) and is very close to his/her tipping point anyway (ie. the point at which s/he will become violent).

Because of this, s/he takes out his/her stress, anger and frustration (the psychological term for this is DISPLACEMENT) on the family member even though the family member and the trivial initiating incident are not be the main cause of the violence.

3) The Violent Incident Itself : The type of violent incident is also part of the cycle as the perpetrator of the violence will tend to repeat the particular type of violence s/he deploys against the victim/s.

For example, a perpetrator who uses physical violence will tend to stick to this, while a perpetrator who uses psychological/emotional abuse (CLICK HERE to read my article on emtional abuse) will tend to stick to that. Often, of course, a perpetrator may use both forms of abuse simultaneously.

 

RESOURCES:

 

DOMESTICVIOLENCE.ORG

 

EBOOKS :

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Ebooks : Above ebooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma : Domestic Violence

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

Domestic violence can affect children in two ways : DIRECTLY and INDIRECTLY. Let’s look at each of these two categories:

DIRECTLY :

–  the violence is DELIBERATELY aimed at the child with the INTENTION of causing him/her harm

INDIRECTLY :

– the child witnesses the violence is the household (eg sees the father beat up the mother). Whilst the violence is not perpetrated directly against the child, the child is caused psychological damage as a result of the experience

STATISTICS RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE :

In the USA, approximately 1.5 million children per year are affected by domestic violence (although this is thought to be a substantial underestimate due to all the cases of domestic violence which go unreported/undetected). Shockingly, about 2000 – 5000 children will actually die as a result of the violence (figures come from The National Crime Survey).

Worse still, these are just the figures that relate to direct violence; millions more children are harmed indirectly. The proportions, then, are truly epidemic.

WHAT TYPE OF FAMILIES DOES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OCCUR IN?

All types of families are affected by domestic violence – no religious sector, ethnic group or socio-economic class are immune. However, it needs to be noted that children are more likely to be affected by domestic violence in families affected by :

– poverty

– unemployment

– being a single-parent family

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

The most common types are as follows:

– beating

– biting

– burning

– immersion in scalding water

– shaking

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON THE CHILD?:

The effects upon the child are wide-ranging and may include:

– nightmares

– bedwetting

– depression

– low self-esteem

– introversion/introspection/withdrawal

– non-communicativeness/refuge in silence

– feelings of hopelessness

– feelings of being trapped

– academic/social problems at school, including failure to make friends

– feeling unloved/unloveable

– anxiety/exaggerated startle response/nervous behaviours

– aggression/fighting/hostility/destructiveness/abuse of pets/abuse of siblings

– avoidance of discussing anything about family with peers

– feelings of self-hatred (CLICK HERE TO READ MY ARTICLE ON THIS).

– irrational feelings of guilt/shame together with irrational feelings of being ‘bad’ and ‘to blame’ (CLICK HERE TO READ MY ARTICLE ON THIS)

DO CHILDREN WHO SUFFER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE GO ON TO PERPETRATE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE THEMSELVES IN ADULTHOOD?

Research suggests that about 30% of those who suffer the effects of domestic violence in childhood go on to perpetrate domestic violence themselves as adults.

The chances of this occurring are reduced considerably if the person gains insight into the effects of his/her childhood experiences had upon him/her through appropriate therapy.

WHEN IS PROFESSIONAL INTERVENTION APPROPRIATE?

It goes without saying that professional intervention is necessary if significant physical harm is occurring. Other indicators that professional intervention may be especially urgent include :

– the child’s physical/emotional/cognitive development is being adversely affected

– the child emotionally regresses (ie. starts behaving significantly younger due to emtional distress -eg. a fourteen -year -old who frequently has emotional tantrums more usually displayed in a four-year-old)

– significant, recurring, aggressive behaviour

– extreme social withdrawal

– the child is suffering from significant anxiety (eg has an exaggerated ‘startle respone’)

NB. The above list is in no way exhaustive; indeed, some children may be suffering a high level of internal emotional distress which s/he suppresses making it less easily detectable. It is, therefore, always best to err on the side of caution.

 

RESOURCES :

DOMESTICVIOLENCE.ORG

 

EBOOKS :

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Above ebooks now available for immediate download on Amazon. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

-

BPD and ‘Clinging’ Dependency

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

An individual suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) typically finds it extremely difficult to judge the appropriate emotional distance/closeness s/he should keep with those with whom s/he interacts.

This can be very confusing indeed for those who interact with/form relationships with the BPD sufferer. This is because the individual with BPD may idealize the person one day, seeing him/her as ‘perfect’ and as someone ‘who can do no wrong’ to despising this very same person the next.

Very often, this cycle of idealizing and devaluing will continue until the relationship, sooner or later, breaks down altogether.

However, despite the fact that the BPD suffererer inevitably finds relationships profoundly confusing and emotionally painful, s/he often also finds being alone intolerable and is likely, therefore, to feel constantly compelled to form new relationships to make up for those that have been lost.

Indeed, the attempt to form relationships with others may become desperate. For example, the BPD sufferer may become highly promiscuous, frequently attending singles’ bars and having serial one-night-stands in an attempt to feel wanted, however transiently.

Ultimately, however, this is likely to leave the BPD sufferer feeling emptier and more worthless than ever.

FEELING SUFFOCATED VERSUS FEELING ABANDONED.

It is especially difficult to form a satisfying and long-lasting relationship with the BPD sufferer as no way of relating to him/her seems viable :

If a person is perceived as getting too close to the BPD sufferer, s/he (the BPD sufferer) will feel suffocated and push the person away…

however…

If the person backs off, the BPD sufferer is liable to feel cruelly and cold-heartedly abandoned, becoming intensely angry and full of hatred for the person s/he (the BPD sufferer) perceives as having wronged him/her. This almost certainly occurs because, on an unconscious level, the abandonment triggers buried feelings of HAVING BEEN ABANDONED (eg due to emotional neglect/abuse) AS A CHILD.

RESPONSES TO FEELINGS OF ABANDONMENT AND SUFFOCATION:

When the BPD sufferer, in the course of a relationship, feels threatened by abandonment, s/he will typically behave in an extremely ‘clingy’ manner, perhaps placing impossible demands upon the other person.

However, as soon as the other person is felt to be getting too close, the BPD sufferer is likely to feel a sense of being engulfed.

Due to such problems, any relationship the BPD sufferer does manage to form is likely to be ephemeral. However, if both the BPD sufferer and the other person in the relationship both have a good level of insight into the condition of BPD, and with therapeutic support, the chances of the relationship surviving are likely to be significantly increased.

 

RESOURCES :

HELP WITH DEPENDENCY ISSUES

 

EBOOKS :

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Above ebooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma – Signs and Effects of Psychological Abuse

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND REBUILD YOUR LIFE MP3 - CLICK BANNER ABOVE

ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND REBUILD YOUR LIFE MP3 – CLICK BANNER ABOVE

The effects of having been psychologically/emotionally abused when we were children can be devastating, and, without therapy, can last a life-time.

Indeed, we may find, as a result of our adverse early life experiences, that we have significant difficulties managing all the important aspects of our lives, including our social life, our work/career, our intimate relationships and our relationship with our wider family (to read my article about how childhood trauma can ruin our adult relationships, click here).

Because emotional abuse has no one, clear-cut, simple definition, in this article I want to look at some examples of psychological/emotional abuse. After I have done that, I will then list some of the main effects of this kind of abuse.

EXAMPLES OF BEHAVIOURS BY PARENTS/PRIMARY CARE-GIVERS TOWARDS THE CHILD THAT CAN QUALIFY AS PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL ABUSE :

– having significant feelings dismissed as of no importance

– frequently being on the receiving end of rage and intense anger

– being made to feel worthless

– being humiliated and derided

– being treated with hostility

– being threatened with physical abuse/assault

– constantly being criticized

– being ignored

– not being treated as an individual with own unique thoughts, opinions and feelings

– being treated sarcastically

– being treated with contempt

– being humiliated

– being devalued and demeaned

– being treated very inconsistently

– being on the receiving end of unpredictable and wildly fluctuating changes in mood

– being on the receiving end of passive-aggressive behaviour

– being treated with indifference

– being manipulated by being made to feel guilty or ashamed

– being scapegoated for the mistakes of others (click here to read my article about BEING MADE A FAMILY SCAPEGOAT).

As I said at the beginning of this article, being treated in ways such as those outlined above can lead to the individual suffering very serious and long-lasting effects if therapeutic interventions (such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, or CBT, as it is abbreviated to) are not sought out.

Indeed, the earlier therapy is sought for an individual damaged by psychological/emotional abuse, the less serious and less long-lasting its effects are likely to be.

Tragically, some people go through their whole lives without seeking therapy or gaining insight into the cause of their psychological problems, making their lives far more painful and difficult than they needed to be.

So let’s now turn to the possible effects of having suffered psychological/emotional abuse as a child:

THE POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF HAVING SUFFERED CHILDHOOD PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL ABUSE :

– diminished capacity to love (because those we loved hurt us, we view love as risky and as something that will make us vulnerable to further emotional pain)

– a pervasive sense of insecurity (as we have learned that even those with a duty to care for us can be utterly undependable)

– frequent feelings of anxiety and fear with no obvious origin

– hypersensitivity/hypervigilance (always looking out for signs that others are a threat to us or might do us harm, often to the point of seeing threat that only exists in our imaginations – this is linked to our difficulties with trusting others)

– we may start to behave in the very ways those who emotionally harmed us did eg. flying into rages, being aggressive etc.

– find forming and maintaining relationships with others highly problematic

– we may become preoccupied with the notion of obtaining ‘justice’ for the wrongs perpetrated against us

– we may develop various addictions to cope with our inner pain (this is a psychological defence mechanism known as DISSOCIATION – click here to read my article on this)

– periods of intense anger followed by periods of apathy and depression

– irrational feelings of guilt and shame (sometimes because we have been scapegoated by our family – see above)

– a view of the world as being hostile, threatening, dangerous and unpredictable

RESOURCES :

MP3 – ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSECLICK HERE

EBOOKS :

content_4964975_DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL40b15208-decf-40fb-aa7b-16365c5dd61e

Above ebooks now available on Amazon for instant download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

Effects of Childhood Trauma – Alexithymia, Depression and Binge Eating

 childhood_trauma_questionnaire
EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS HYPNOSIS MP3 - CLICK HERE

EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS
HYPNOSIS MP3 – CLICK HERE

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One possible effect of significant childhood trauma, according to recent research, is a condition known as ALEXITHYMIA ;it is closely linked to clinical depression and eating disorders.

Let’s look at the main symptoms of alexithymia. According to Taylor et al, 1990, they are as follows:

1) Problems identifying one’s own emotions and those of other people

2) Problems describing own emotions and those of other people

3) Problems differentiating between one’s feelings and the physical/bodily sensations of emotional arousal

4) Impoverished skills of mental imagination

b

DISCONNECTED FROM FEELINGS :

Those with the condition can feel very disconnected from their feelings (or may confuse their feelings with physical problems – see symptoms above) and this state of affairs often begins in childhood

RECONNECTING WITH FEELINGS :

Whilst it is possible to reconnect with one’s feelings, some people who suffer from alexithymia are resistant to the idea of doing this. This may be because they feel that a state of emotional numbness protects them and that if they allow themselves to have authentic feelings again they will be overwhelmed.

In other words, the idea of reconnecting with their feelings makes the person feel vulnerable and threatened. S/he may equate having feelings with a sign of weakness.

CHILDHOOD :

Such ideas are generally learned in childhood. This may be because the sufferer of alexithymia had a powerful role model who denied and suppressed/repressed his/her own feelings, so the sufferer never learned to be ‘in touch’ and ‘tuned in’ to his/her feelings nor how to express and manage them in a healthy way.

UNRESOLVED ISSUES :

Individuals with alexithymia are very likely to have issues from their childhood that remain unresolved and, also, to have feelings connected those issues which remain unexpressed. IT IS LIKELY THAT THE INDIVIDUAL IS REPRESSING (banishing from his/her conscious awareness – an automatic psychological defence mechanism) MUCH EMOTIONAL PAIN AND ANGUISH ASSOCIATED WITH SIGNIFICANT CHILDHOOD TRAUMA.

HIGH ADULT SUSCEPTIBILITY TO ADVERSE EFFECTS OF STRESS :

As an adult, people with alexithymia may well find that they are acutely sensitive to the effects of stress and are therefore more likely to be ‘tipped over the edge’ by problems and difficulties that better emotionally adjusted people may regard as easy to cope with.

Because the sufferer of alexithymia is unconsciously dealing with so much stress anyway (repressing emotional pain is mentally exhausting) s/he has a low level of resources available to cope with any more; his/her stress tolerance is low, and mental resources to deal with it are quickly overloaded, even by demands others may view as trivial.

ALEXITHYMIA AND EATING DISORDERS:

Research into alexithymia also suggests it is connected to eating disorders. Because the sufferer’s ability to cope with day-to-day life is significantly impaired, s/he may comfort/binge eat as a way of trying to improve mood/reduce feelings of stress.

Like other potentially damaging coping strategies, (eg excessive drinking, gambling, over-spending, drug taking etc) whilst this might provide some short-term relief, it’s long-term effects are most unhelpful.

Instead, addressing the underlying problem through therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) should be strongly considered.

RESOURCES :

Hypnotherapy MP3s :

STOP BINGE EATING (immediate MP3 download) – CLICK HERE

Ebooks :

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Above ebooks now available for immediate download on Amazon. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).