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




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.




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).


Rediscovering Our Inner Child


The psychologist and writer, Whitfield, defines our ‘INNER CHILD’ as : ‘the ultimately alive, energetic, receptive, creative and fulfilled’ part of our psyche. Other psychologists have also written about this aspect of ourselves; for example, the psychotherapist and writer, Alice Miller, refers to it as our ‘true self‘ and others have referred to it as our ‘child within‘ and our ‘real self’.

If we have suffered serious trauma during our childhoods it is likely that this part of us became severely suppressed, and that, in its place, we develop a FALSE SELF. This can result in us viewing the world from the perspective of a ‘victim’, developing a highly anxious personality, anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure – click here to read my article on this), a pervasive and distressing sense of emptiness and of life being utterly devoid of meaning, and, very often too, profound confusion as to our own identity.

The reason we have repressed our ‘inner child’ and allowed it to be replaced by this false self is likely to be that our true, authentic self was not accepted or nurtured as we grew up – possibly we were perpetually criticized or, as in my own case, rejected outright.

Now, as adults, we have learned to keep this ‘inner child’ ‘under wraps’ and hidden away. We fear that if we allow it to display itself it will be rejected or hurt, as it was by our parents/primary carers in our early years.

Many people who have been hurt in such a way perhaps never reveal their true selves, or only extremely rarely. How much do we really know of other people’s inner mental lives, even those we suppose ourselves to know very well indeed? And how much do others really know of us?

Sigmund Freud regarded our FALSE SELF as having been created by the relentless demands of the super-ego and the ego. The result of this is that we become highly self-critical, self-blaming and prone to deep feelings of shame. Also, because we are dominated by the ego, we are liable to act in a way which makes us appear strong and in control in front of others, whilst, deep down, we are actually feeling extremely weak and vulnerable.

A further negative outcome of us being dominated by our ego and super-ego is that it leads us to behave in a fake, phoney and contrived way – we are forced to wear a social mask in the hope that it will allow us to function in a socially successful way, or, at least, in a socially acceptable one.

It is a bit like one giant conspiracy – everybody behaving as someone they are, in reality, resolutely not.




Whitfield (see above) suggests that our ‘inner child’ becomes hidden away as many of our basic needs have never been met (or have been inadequately met). Drawing on other psychologists (eg Maslow, Miller, Weil and Glasser) ,Whitfield lists our BASIC NEEDS as follows:

– safety and survival

– physical contact with others (affection)

– attention

– guidance from those more experienced

– being listened to and taken seriously

– being accepted by others and allowed to participate in activities with others

– being respected/admired

– having a feeling of belonging and of being loved

– having our ‘authentic selves’ accepted and appreciated

– having our feelings taken seriously/validated

– having the freedom to be our true selves

– having emotional support from others

– having loyalty from others, especially significant others, parents etc

– a sense of accomplishment/achievement

– a sense of mastery and control

– having the freedom to be creative

– sexuality

– unconditional love from parents/primary care-givers.



Help with rediscovering your ‘inner child’, click here.


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

Children Who Kill : Typologies


In very extreme circumstances, and very rarely, children kill. Almost invariably, such a child has been deprived of love and nurturing, or has bee abused or rejected, or has suffered a combination of all or any of these. S/he is full of rage due to this treatment and this is displaced onto society in general and particular individuals within that society.

Criminologists have identified several categories (or ‘typologies’) of child killer. In this article, I will focus on five of these typologies. They are:


Let’s examine each of these five typologies in turn :

1) FAMILY KILLERS : Child killers in this group are likely to have suffered extremely severe ill-treatment from their parent/s and, as a result, have built up a profound sense of anger towards them which has perhaps been festering for years. A particular ‘triggering event’ can then cause them to ‘snap’, particularly if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Sometimes, too, such children will have been living in constant terror of their parent/s so that the murderous act is a form of self-defence/self-protection.

The psychologist and researcher Heide has found that there is a very powerful association between the act of patricide (murder of the father) and of the child who commits patricide having been severely abused by that father (especially when the abuse has been emotional or physical).



Kids Who Kill Parents CLICK HERE


2) SCHOOL KILLERS : Often, children who shoot their teachers/contemporaries in attacks on their school have suffered years of bullying at that school. The effects of this treatment have also usually been exacerbated by them also having suffered severe abuse at home.

It is likely, too, that such children have displaced their hatred of their parent/s onto authority figures in general (hence the attack on their teachers).

Other factors that contribute to the development of the child ‘school killer’ include isolation and lack of social support/lack of friendships, having a dominant father which makes him feel powerless and a weak sense of identity – their decision to become a ‘school killer’, then, in their own minds, finally gives them the power and identity that they perceive themselves to have previously lacked.


3) GANG-BASED KILLERS : Children who join gangs often come from violent homes. Joining a gang provides them with a sense of identity, status, belonging and safety (ie safety in numbers)

Because of these psychological gains, they are often desperate to be accepted by the gang and, as such, are liable to have their misplaced loyalty to it ruthlessly exploited by its leader/s, even to the extent of being manipulated into murdering rival gang members.

Other factors which make a young person more likely to join a gang include lack of interests/hobbies, a sense of powerlessness (joining the gang gives him/her a sense of power) and poverty (being in a gang can be financially rewarding in the short-term, eg from drug dealing, muggings etc)


4) HATE KILLERS : These are children who kill others on the grounds of their differences (eg race, religion, sexuality etc). They are likely to have been influenced by their parents’ prejudices and/or the prejudices held by other members of their community/sub-culture).

Again, such children have usually experienced severe ill-treatment at home and have developed a deep sense of powerlessness which they attempt to rectify through an extreme, violent act.


5) SEX KILLERS : Again, such child killers have usually experienced extreme abuse at home and have developed a deep sense of inadequacy, worthlessness and rock-bottom self-esteem. Their crime is linked to their sense of powerlessness and a need to ‘exert their masculinity’.


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

Unempathetic Mothers


An UNEMPATHETIC MOTHER is one who is unable to take her child’s perspective and see things from his/her point of view. For example, if her child responds in a negative way towards her, she is unable to see how her own behaviour contributed to such a response, or to accept that the child’s response may be absolutely normal and understandable given the circumstances. Essentially, she is unable to appreciate how her own behaviour makes her child feel, and how it may negatively impact upon him/her.



The psychologist and writer, Apter, suggests that unempathetic mothers frequently :


For example, she may say things like : ‘I am your mother so you must always show me the utmost respect and never defy me!’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Just accept that I always know what’s best for you, so do what I say without questioning me.’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Be quiet, you’re far too young to have an opinion on this; nobody’s remotely interested in anything you have to say.’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Don’t cry – you made me slap you by provoking me so much; you’d try the patience of a saint. I hope you’re happy now, making me do that!’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Stop crying, you’ve no idea what it is to really suffer – you should try living my life for a day, having to cope with a little bastard like you!’


For example, she may say things like : ‘You’re just a bad kid through and through’ or, even, ‘you’re utterly evil’

Sound familiar?

Sound familiar?


For example, she may say things like : ‘Have you managed to compose yourself now? – it must be awful for you, having such a destructive temper’


For example, she may say things like : (delivered in bored tone) : ‘Yeah…right…uh-huh…uh-huh …’(yawns) ‘sorry, I slept vey badly last night…I’m utterly shattered…it’s not that you’re boring me…’ (yawns again, more ostentatiously this time)


For example, she may say things like : ‘I promise I’ll be the world’s best mother from now on’


For example, she may say things like : ‘I’ve never acted against your interests.’


For example, she may say things like : ‘Oh, you think you’re a big shot, do you? All Hail the big-shot! – don’t make me laugh. You’ll never amount to anything. You’re a complete embarrassment to me and to everybody else who’s ever had the misfortune to know you!’

A particular kind of mother who may be especially prone to behaving in ways suggested above is the NARCISSISTIC MOTHER (click here to read my article about the characteristics of such mothers).


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

Childhood Mental Health : UK Statistics



Statistics relating to mental disorder :

About 8% of children aged 5-10 years suffer from a mental disorder

About 12% of children aged 11-16 years suffer from a mental disorder


More specifically :


About 1 in 70 children aged from 5-10 years suffers from severe ADHD

About 1 in 16 children aged 11-16 suffers from severe ADHD

(Note – severe ADHD is also often referred to as HYPERKINETIC DISORDER)


About 2% of children aged 5-10 years suffer from an anxiety disorder

About 4.5% of children aged 11-16 years suffer from an anxiety disorder


About 1 in 500 children aged from 5-10 years suffer from severe depression

About 1 in 100 children aged 11-16 years suffer from severe depression


About 1 in 20 children aged 5-10 years suffer from a conduct disorder

About 1 in 16 children aged 11-16 years suffer from a conduct disorder





95% of ‘young offenders’ in juvenile prisons suffer from a mental health problem. (CLICK HERE to read my article entitled : ‘MENTAL HEALTH AND CRIMINAL LAW’)


About 75% of those young people in the ‘care system’ suffer from a mental health problem affecting their behaviour/emotional state.

Over the last two or three decades, diagnoses of children with severe depression and also of children with a conduct disorder have both approximately doubled.


It is also noteworthy that half of adults with mental health problems had their first diagnosis is childhood; however, in less than 50% of these cases was the problem appropriately addressed.


Treating mental health conditions whilst the individual is young can save them from a life-time of misery. The earlier the intervention, the more likely it is that it will be effective.





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






Do You Over-react?



Research has firmly established that certain kinds of severe childhood trauma can seriously impair our ability to control our emotions long into our adult lives (without therapeutic intervention such as dialectical behaviour therapy). This will especially be the case if our childhood trauma has been so serious that we have gone on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD).

If we have been affected in such a way, we are likely to find others pointing out to us that we have a marked tendency to OVER-REACT to occurrences that other people would be able to  take calmly in their stride.

So why is this?

Essentially, it is likely to be mainly due to us continuing to react to things as if we were still experiencing the overwhelming stress of our childhoods. This is so because our stress response system, during our childhood, was chronically overloaded, resulting in exceptionally large quantities of ADRENALIN and other stress hormones being delivered, far too frequently, or, indeed, chronically, to our brain.

This can result in the AMYGDALA (a brain structure strongly associated with our emotional reactions) being damaged and our STRESS RESPONSE SYSTEM BECOMING PERMANENTLY STUCK ON ‘RED ALERT.‘ In effect, this means that we are continually in ‘EMERGENCY RESPONSE MODE’.

overreaction_stress response_trauma



Effects which may frequently be experienced include :

– over-reacting to events/circumstances in ways which seem vastly disproportionate from the perspective of an objective observer

– frequently being ‘bad tempered’/finding our temper to constantly be on a ‘hair-trigger’

– having a tendency to be highly argumentative and confrontational

– finding ourselves to be very easily irritated

– being prone to outbursts of rage (again, these outbursts may often seem disproportionate to the provocation, from an objective stand-point)

– feeling constantly agitated, nervous and ‘on-edge’

– having a hyper-sensitive ‘startle-response’ (eg may ‘jump’ in response to an unexpected noise, such as a knock at the door or our phone ringing or in response to an unexpected movement)


In particular, we are likely to over-react, perhaps dramatically, to situations/events/circumstances/people that REMIND US OF OUR ORIGINAL TRAUMA (even if we are only reminded by these things on an unconscious level). Such reminders, or TRIGGERS, will tend to lead to massive surges of adrenalin within our bodies making our resultant behaviour exceptionally difficult to control, at least in the short-term – indeed, responses to reminders of severe trauma are likely to be essentially ‘automatic’ as our childhoods have ‘programmed’ us to expect danger and to respond accordingly.

Unfortunately, such responses are very likely, now we are adults, to be dysfunctional; this is because we are now likely to live in a different environment/social context which no longer carries the dangers of our childhood environment.

If we are in this situation, it is likely that we may benefit from dialectical behaviour therapy (see above) or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


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


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



Obsessed by Fire as a Child?


Worryingly, I was obsessed by fire as a child. My favourite thing to do, by far, was to have a bonfire at the bottom of the garden. I would gaze, transfixed, enraptured even, at the flames, as if I’d been mesmerized by a particularly talented hypnotist.

I also remember that when I was taken to visit my grandmother as a child, I would spend hours throwing various inflammable items into her coal fuelled boiler, watching them being engulfed, and then consumed, by the flames.

And why is this worrying?

Well, whilst it is normal for children to be fascinated by fire, my own pre-occupation with it went far beyond the norm.


Indeed, child therapists have found that children they counsel who are obsessed by fire are amongst the most disturbed. Often, these children will be suffering from a serious form of attachment disorder.

But why should this be?

One leading theory is that very disturbed children may be attracted by fire’s power; because they feel powerless and vulnerable in their own lives, they derive a kind of compensatory pleasure from the fact that they themselves can create something extremely powerful (the fire) which they can use to destroy things – thus firmly placing, as it were, the boot on the other foot. In my own case, I only burned things like sheets of newspaper, cardboard, twigs, branches, etc (as far as I can remember). But, of course, some disturbed children take things further, perhaps setting fire to public litter bins or even by committing more serious arson (eg setting their school on fire).

A child who is obsessed by fire due to a severe psychological condition may also show a special interest in blood, violence and gore (not uncommonly this may be expressed in pictures/drawings that s/he produces or by a particular predilection for violent and sadistic movies).

This interest in violence is likely to have the same deep rooted cause as the interest in fire. In other words, it represents his/her (probably unconscious) desire to have the power to control and hurt others in the same way that s/he has been hurt.


To read my article entitled ‘Early Signs of Psychopathy’, click here.







Above eBooks now available for immediate download from Amazon - CLICK HERE


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


False Core Beliefs : Their Childhood Roots


By the time we are adults, most of us have developed very entrenched, deeply rooted, fundamental beliefs about ourselves. Psychologists refer to these as our CORE BELIEFS. Once established, they can prove very difficult to change without the aid of therapeutic interventions (such as cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT).

A traumatic childhood, especially one that involved us being rejected and unloved by our parents, will very frequently have a very adverse effect on these CORE BELIEFS. However, precisely how our self-concept is warped and distorted by our problematic childhood experiences will depend upon the unique aspects of those experiences (as well as other factors such as our genetic inheritance, our temperament and the support we received (or failed to receive) from others to help us to cope with our childhood difficulties.


Examples of the kind of false core beliefs our traumatic childhood experiences could have led us to form are as follows :


OTHERS WILL ABANDON ME – this belief may develop if one/both parents abandoned us during our childhoods, for example

I AM NOT WORTH OTHERS CARING ABOUT – this belief may develop if our parent/s focused far more on their own needs than our own, for example

I MUST BE SELF-SACRIFICING – this belief may develop if our parent/s ‘parentified‘ us, for example

I MUST SUBJUGATE MYSELF TO OTHERS – this belief may develop if our own views and needs were dismissed as unimportant by our parent/s, for example

I AM A SOCIAL PARIAH, UNFIT TO ASSOCIATE WITH OTHERS – this belief may develop if we grew up feeling our childhood experiences set us apart from our contemporaries or if we were in some way ‘forced to grow up’ too early, so that we developed difficulties relating to those of our own age during childhood (perhaps we were so anxious and pre-occupied we couldn’t behave in a care-free way join in the ‘fun’).

I AM INTRINSICALLY UNLOVABLE – this belief may have developed if we were unloved, or PERCEIVED OURSELVES TO BE UNLOVED, by our parent/s, for example

I AM VULNERABLE AND IN CONSTANT DANGER – such a belief can develop if we spent a lot of our childhood feeling anxious, under stress, apprehensive or in fear, for example

I MUST ALWAYS KEEP TO THE HIGHEST OF STANDARDS – such a belief may develop if our parents only CONDITIONAL LOVED/ACCEPTED us

I AM SPECIALLY ENTITLED – this belief may develop if we feel (probably on an unconscious level) that society in general should compensate us for our childhood suffering or because we are so overwhelmed by our emotional pain that we can’t help but to focus almost exclusively upon our own needs (rather as we would, say, if we were on fire).





Unfortunately, such deeply instilled core beliefs are liable to become self-fulfilling prophecies. As already stated, they are resilient to change and this state of affairs is seriously aggravated by the fact that, once such beliefs have become deeply ingrained, our view of the world is so coloured that we misinterpret, or ‘over-interpret’, what is going on around us, specifically :

We selectively attend to, and absorb, information which supports, or, seems to us to support, our negative view of ourselves, while, at the same time, ignoring or discounting anything that contradicts our negative self-view. In so doing, we are likely, often, to grossly overestimate the significance of information that seems to confirm our negative self-view, or simply completely to misinterpret information (eg by thinking/believing : ‘he just yawned because I’m boring’, whereas, in fact, he yawned because he had not slept for twenty-four hours).



To read my article on how cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help to address our false core beliefs, click here.


Learn to accept love – click here

Overcome perfectionism – click here

Build solid self-esteem – click here

Overcome fear and anxiety – click here


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


What’s Your Emotional Style? And Why?


I have written at length in other posts on this site about how a traumatic childhood can impair the control we have over our emotions in adulthood. In this post, I will look at six specific types of emotional style (as recently defined by the latest neuro-scientific findings, and, more specifically, by the neuroscientist R.J. Davidson and colleagues) and how they can be negatively influenced by our childhood experiences.

Davidson’s interest in this area was stimulated by the clear fact that different people respond emotionally in very different ways to the same event. For example, some people are very resilient in response to major set-backs in life, while others are utterly defeated by such  occurrences. Davidson states that these different reactions are directly connected to the individual’s particular emotional style.



Davidson emphasizes that the six emotional styles are predicated upon bona fide neurological research; in other words, each emotion can be mapped onto specific neural circuits in the brain – they are NOT mere abstract concepts :


ie how well we cope with major set-backs in life and our ability to ‘bounce back’


ie where we fit on the scale that runs from extremely negative to extremely positive  in relation to our general outlook upon life


ie the degree to which we are able to ‘pick up’ on other people’s social nuances (such as body language, facial expression and tone of voice)


ie the degree to which we have insight into our emotional responses / understanding why we react to certain people, events, situations etc as we do


ie the degree to which we are able to tailor our behaviour according to the particular social context in which we find ourselves


ie the degree to which we have the ability to avoid becoming too caught up in our emotions and concentrate upon a particular task in hand (this is sometimes referred to as the ability to COMPARTMENTALIZE our feelings).





Davidson points out that our emotional style contributes significantly to our personality type. He provides the following examples:






There is much research demonstrating that severe childhood trauma can play havoc with our adult emotional make-up. In extreme cases, severe childhood trauma can greatly increase the chances of a person developing borderline personality disorder (BPD); a major hallmark of this condition is extreme emotional volatility.

In relation to this, however, Davidson points to research showing that chronic high anxiety and stress in childhood leads to specific genes becoming activated in such a way that our stress-response system becomes EXCEPTIONALLY REACTIVE and SENSITIVE making it far harder for us, as adults, to withstand life’s relentless barrage of difficulties, problems and, not uncommonly either, disasters and catastrophes. Furthermore, there is also a very solid foundation of evidence showing that significant childhood trauma can contribute to us having severe problems relating to others, greatly increasing our risk of clinical depression (and suicide), having little insight into why our powerful emotions arise in any given situation, and prone to becoming ‘caught up’ in our anxious thoughts.

All six emotional styles then, will have their roots in our childhood experiences.



Develop powerful resilience – click here

Stop negative thinking – click here

Overcome insecurity in relationships – click here

Develop self-awareness – click here

Improve concentration and focus – click here


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





Disorganized Attachment : Effects on Toddlers


Disorganized attachment refers to the relationship between the mother and child being inconsistent, and, from the child’s point of view, unpredictable, as may occur if the mother is emotionally unstable. This leads to the child responding to the mother in a confused manner, particularly when the mother returns to the child after a period of separation (eg returning to pick up her toddler from a nursery group).

In such a situation, the toddler becomes deeply uncertain how to respond; sometimes, the toddler may approach the mother enthusiastically but, at other times, the toddler may become immobile, or frozen, as a result of apprehension and fear. Sometimes, too, the approach the toddler makes towards the returning mother may be a desperately confused combination of the two.


Essentially, then, the toddler, due to the mother’s generally inconsistent behaviour, is uncertain as to whether she poses a threat or whether she intends to nurture him/her. Psychologists sometimes refer to this as the ‘APPROACH/AVOIDANCE DILEMMA.’ In cases whereby the relationship between mother and toddler is particularly stressful and distressing for the toddler, s/he may also develop other symptoms such as nervous physical tics or profoundly withdrawing into his/her own personal world, seemingly oblivious to the presence of others for significant periods of time. In such a situation, there is likely to have been a catastrophic breakdown of trust between the toddler and the mother.

Toddlers affected in this way may have developed a fear of the mother because she is aggressive and threatening towards the child in her behaviour (eg by shouting, expressing rage by facial expressions etc) or because the toddler senses her severe anxiety which, in turn, causes him/her to feel anxious and under threat.


The toddler subjected to severe stress in this way is at great risk of producing too much CORTISOL (a stress hormone) which, in turn , can have very harmful effects upon brain development. If this occurs, the toddler is put at high risk of developing mental illness and emotional dysfunction in later/adult life. One disorder which research suggests is particularly linked to such early life mother/child bonding dysfunction is BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD)click here to read my article on this.

Furthermore, the actual volume of the brain may be affected (ie the brain fails to grow to the normal adult size). In particular, it seems that the prefrontal cortex can be prevented from developing to the size that it should. This impaired development of the prefrontal cortex leads to great difficulty in controlling reactions to stress in later life.

On top of this, research also suggests that balance between dopamine and serotonin in the brain is also adversely affected, which, in turn, can lead to mood disorders (dopamine and serotonin are both brain chemicals involved in how we feel emotionally).

In this article I have focused on toddlers as research suggests that it is during the first three years of life when the brain is particularly vulnerable to being affected in adverse ways that lead to behavioural and emotional problems in later life. In particular, the toddler affected in such a way is likely to be very susceptible to the damaging effects of stress in later life.



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


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

Anxiety, CBT and Neuroplasticity


It is a relatively new discovery within psychology that the brain physically changes throughout our lives (not just during childhood and adolescence as many previously supposed).

Just as the brain’s physical development can be harmed (eg certain types of severe childhood trauma can interfere with the development of the amygdala, which, in turn, is related to the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD)click here to read my article on this), so, too, can its structure and functionality be repaired and enhanced by therapeutic interventions; the harnessing of the power of such  beneficial interventions has come to be known as  SELF-DIRECTED NEURO-PLASTICITY.

Self-directed neuro-plasticity essentially involves us teaching ourselves to think and act in new ways that can positively shape and control the functioning of our physical brain, altering its structure to our advantage and ‘re-wiring’ it in helpful ways (click here to read my article about how the brain can ‘re-wire’ itself).





A recent research study, conducted by the psychologist Schwartz, involved patients suffering from an anxiety disorder being treated with a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) technique (called ‘mindfulness‘). CBT, to explain it in very basic terms, is a form of therapy based on the premise that by changing how we think, we can change how we act and feel, and, furthermore, that many psychological disorders have at their heart a faulty thinking style that causes distress. CBT seeks to correct this faulty thinking style.

But back to Schwartz’s study. He found that those treated with CBT improved to about the same degree as would be expected had they been treated with medication. This having been established, Schwartz then arranged for these improved patients to be given a brain scan (specifically, for those interested, a PET scan, or positron emission tomography scan).

This revealed that certain NEURAL PATHWAYS in the brains of the patients had undergone significant change. Specifically, there was seen to be, after the CBT therapy had been completed, significantly greater activity in the patients’ ORBITAL FRONTAL CORTEX.


As research into neuroplasticity continues and more experiments, such as the one outlined above, are conducted, it is likely that more and more psychological disorders will be amenable to interventions that exploit the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, providing us all, even those with conditions  thought to be deeply entrenched, a good deal of hope that we can get very significantly better.



CBT4PANIC  (Online CBT course) CLICK HERE Information about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) CLICK HERE




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

Effects of Parents with PTSD on Children


One reason why children may be psychologically damaged by growing up with a parent suffering from PTSD is that they (children) develop many of their behaviours by IMITATING the behaviour of their parents. It follows, then, that if the parent has unhealthy behaviours due to PTSD, the child may be developmentally adversely affected, including experiencing problems developing good social and interpersonal skills.

Indeed, if children are frequently exposed to the parent’s dysfunctional behaviour, the child can come to view such behaviour as the societal and cultural ‘norm’.

On top of this, if the parent suffering from PTSD is deeply absorbed by his/her own difficulties, it is quite possible that the child will be deprived of proper emotional support and also of a stable environment, thus being made vulnerable to further psychological harm.

It is not uncommon for a child in such a situation to :

– falsely believe that s/he is the cause of their parent’s problems and thus be burdened with unnecessary guilt

– become depressed him/herself if the parent is suffering from depression

– copy the parent’s aggressive and violent behaviour (if symptoms of the parent’s PTSD include aggression and violence)

– express their frustration and emotional pain by bullying other siblings (they may also bully siblings to attempt to gain the parental attention that they are lacking or due to mimicking the parent’s behaviour – see above)

– suffer from the effects of household economic deprivation (such as increased stress) if the main income earner is unable to work due to PTSD

– feel unwanted and unlovable due to insufficient attention from the parent

– express his/her emotional pain by becoming hostile and aggressive (especially during adolescence) towards the parent

– grow up feeling worthless/develop very low self-esteem


PICTURES BELOW : PTSD is a very real illness that causes physical alterations to the brain. On the left is a scan of a ‘normal’ brain. On the right is a scan of a brain of a sufferer of PTSD :





These include :

excessive sensitivity to noise :

Because children tend to be fairly noisy, if the parent has developed excessive sensitivity to noise due to his/her PTSD, s/he may over-react to children making normal amounts of noise, such as exploding into a violent rage

fluctuating moods:

This will inevitably lead to the child being treated inconsistently, in turn leading him/her to feel confused and uncertain as to where s/he stands in relation to the parent. This may involve the parent disciplining the child in very unpredictable ways; this can make it hard for the child to trust the parent.  Also, the child may become too afraid to invite friends home as s/he is worried the parent may act inappropriately – this can mean the child becomes socially isolated and loses his/her social support system when s/he is in the most dire need of it.

- dissociation (‘zoning out’):

It is common for those suffering from PTSD to dissociate (‘DISSOCIATION’ is a psychological defence mechanism – CLICK HERE to read my article on this). This can lead to the child being neglected or largely ignored which, in turn, can lead the child to feeling unwanted and unloved

- uncontrollable outbursts of rage/anger :

This can lead to the child feeling in a constant state of fearful apprehension/needing to be ‘on guard’/anxiety, especially if such rages are unpredictable and the child is unable to understand what s/he has done ‘wrong’ (if anything). This can lead to the child building up a lot of internal resentment which may start to express itself in the child’s own outbursts of rage and anger

- negative view of life :

The child can become ‘infected’ by the parent’s negative view of life and, therefore, develop precocious cynicism and a pervasive sense of despair regarding other people and the world in general

- an unremitting view that the world and other people are invariably dangerous/threatening (to a much greater degree than would be objectively warranted) :

The child may absorb the parent’s fears and insecurities into his/her own psyche, developing into a fearful person him/herself

- development of emotional dependency on the child :

The can cause the child to feel overwhelmed by responsibilities that s/he is not old enough to cope with psychologically. Therefore, instead of being carefree, s/he may feel constantly weighed down with anxiety and worry and feel that s/he has essentially ‘lost’ his/her childhood.







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




Childhood Trauma : Dealing with Moodiness and Anger


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.




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).





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).








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


Childhood Trauma : Seeking Closure


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.


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.


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.




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

Feel Guilty About Enjoying Yourself?


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.)





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).



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 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.





David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)


Childhood Trauma : Recovering and Flourishing






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





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 :



- 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)



- 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



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.



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


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.




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.









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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)





Childhood Trauma : The Child’s Basic Needs


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 :


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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 :







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




Possible Childhood Characteristics of Future Serial Killers


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.


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


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).


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


– 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


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

Traumatic Grief in Childhood


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.



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.


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


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


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.


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





Above eBook available on Amazon for immediate download. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Do You Feel Constantly Frightened and Under Threat?


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).

overcoming fear

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.


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.


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.



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

Stress Reduction – Golden Rules


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.




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

Childhood Trauma and Depression – Somatic Symptoms


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.



content_4964975_DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL 40b15208-decf-40fb-aa7b-16365c5dd61e

Above ebooks now available on Amazon for instant download. - CLICK HERE.

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


Dealing with Stress : Increasing our Ability to Relax.


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).


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:


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 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.



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


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.



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:





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).




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

Recovery : Writing as Therapy


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).



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


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


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).


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):


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

Overcoming Emotional Numbness


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.


Above – severe depression will often accompany feelings of emotional numbness


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 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


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.’



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


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.


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.


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.


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).




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

Possible Adverse Physical Effects of CPTSD


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



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




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

Childhood Trauma Leading to Intense Self-Criticism


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.


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 :


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.


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 – 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


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!).


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!).


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



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.


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


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


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.


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 :


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


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:






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.





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


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.


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


– 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



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’)


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:


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


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.


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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


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


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.


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.


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.


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)



Ebooks which may be of interest:


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


‘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.



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’.



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’).


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.


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


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:




David Hosier BSc; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).


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


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…


– 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


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 (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:



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

Childhood Trauma : The ‘Silent Treatment’.


‘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.


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.


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


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.


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


-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)


-panic attacks


-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), 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


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.







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


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:



which results in :




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.


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).


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?


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.



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


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!).


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.


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.







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


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.



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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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




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


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.


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


Hypnotherapy MP3/CD for IMPROVING IMPULSE CONTROL click here.




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

Reactive Attachment Disorder



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 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).


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)


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)




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.


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

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


Learning to Escape Past and Live in Present After Childhood Trauma


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 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)



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:


– 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


– 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


– 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’


– 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.


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).