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Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness : the emotional discovery and emotional acceptance of the truth in the individual and unique history of our childhood.’

– Alice Miller, world renowned expert in child psychology.

ABOUT THIS SITE:

The articles on this site are intended to serve as an accessible, informative and concise introduction to childhood trauma and child abuse and their relationship to depression and anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other conditions.

Both causes and effects of childhood trauma are examined in detail, as are treatments and therapies available to survivors.

I was educated at the University of London (Goldsmith’s College) and hold two degrees (BSc Hons and MSc) and a post-graduate teaching diploma; all three qualifications are in Psychology.

I have worked as a researcher, teacher, lecturer and paper-boy (although not in that order, obviously). My qualifications  exceed those required for Graduate Membership of The British Psychological Society.

I also have first hand experience of severe childhood trauma, and its (in my own particular case, very nearly fatal) emotional consequences, including what I believed at the time to be a fool- proof suicide attempt, hospitalizations and even electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT).

My own experiences, insatiable intellectual curiosity, and training in psychology combine to fuel the powerful motivation necessary to run this site; I do this in the hope of helping both myself, and others, in our respective recoveries.

Whilst, in relation to my own psychological problems, I received some excellent professional help, I also spent a great deal of time helping myself. In particular, I read widely about my own condition (also referred to as bibliotherapy) and utilized the self-help therapies of mindfulness and clinical hypnotherapy; I recommend such self-help techniques to others as an adjunct to other appropriate therapeutic interventions.

To find out more about hypnotherapy instant downloads, clinical hypnotherapy, or how to learn hypnosis, visit Hypnosis Downloads.

As understanding of the effects of childhood trauma progresses, and with so much research now being conducted on the subject, we can all feel increasingly optimistic that our conditions (if we have them) can be effectively treated. There is, therefore, every reason to be hopeful.

 

Contact Information:

email Address: david@childhoodtraumarecovery

Facebook Address : facebook.com/davidhosiermsc

 

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


 

All blog articles begin immediately below:


 


Why We’re Never Satisfied : Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs.

Maslow's hierarchy

If we suffered childhood trauma, we are more likely than others who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable (all else being equal) to experience social, interpersonal and behavioural problems in our adult lives.

This, of course, means we are also at high risk of being significantly dissatisfied with our lives. However, it is worth remembering that nobody ever achieves a complete sense of satisfaction with their lives; I explain why below:

We are, it seems, programed by the evolutionary process never to be satisfied, whatever we achieve, but, instead, always to strive for more.

This is because the compulsion to always strive to obtain new goals would have conferred an evolutionary advantage on our ancestors, making them more likely to survive and reproduce. In short, they would have been more evolutionarily successful than their less motivated, less driven and less dynamic contemporaries; it follows from this that their genes would have become more wide-spread in the gene pool.

We are all familiar with this feeling of never being satisfied; we tell ourselves, I’ll be satisfied when I pass my exams, but soon we take our exam success for granted and tell ourselves, I’ll be satisfied when I get that job. We get the job, we’re satisfied for a while, but, again, soon take it for granted. And so it goes on:

I’ll be satisfied when I get the promotion…I’ll be satisfied when I’m CEO, I’ll be satisfied when I’m a multi-millionaire…I’ll be satisfied once I’m a billionaire…I’ll be satisfied when I’m in the top 10 richest people in the world…We only have to look at all the highly successful and wealthy people who strive to be even wealthier and to gain yet more social recognition and admiration to see how this ‘never satisfied’ mindset takes hold.

We never reach the point when we say, that’s it, that’s enough.

It can be the same with relationships; scenarios such as the example given below not infrequently develop:

I’ll be satisfied once he goes out with me…I’ll be satisfied once he marries me…I’ll be satisfied once we’ve had a child…I’ll be satisfied once we’ve had another child…I’ll be satisfied once the kids are old enough to go to school so I can go back to work…I’ll be satisfied once the divorce is settled…I’ll be satisfied when the new guy I’ve met agrees to go out with me…and so the futile exercise of looking for complete fulfilment begins its never-ending cycle afresh…

The psychologist, Maslow, coming from a slightly different angle, also helps us to understand why this ceaseless striving, this seeking the end of the rainbow, remains stubbornly, resolutely evasive and essentially unobtainable; the theory he developed to aid our comprehension is called: The Hierarchy of Needs; I outline the theory below:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslow's Hierarchy of needs

Above: diagram showing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

As can be seen from the above diagram, Maslow describes our five layers of needs as follows:

1) Physiological needs

2) Safety needs

3) Need for love and a sense of belonging

4) The need for self- esteem

5) The need for self-actualization.

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) Physiological needs: the person who is starving and dehydrated wants nothing more than water and food.

2) Once this need is satisfied, s/he desires safety and security – somewhere to live without being threatened or harrassed.

3) Once safety is achieved, s/he wants to obtain a sense of belonging, of being accepted and loved, and also seeks sexual relationships.

4) After the above goals are satisfied, the next need, according to Maslow, is to develop a sense of self – esteem.

5) The final need, Maslow informs us, is to achieve the highly elusive state of self-actualization. By self-actualization, he meant creatively reaching  one’s potential and finding meaning and purpose in life. Maslow also states that this need is only satisfied by individuals extremely rarely.

Maslow also suggested that one could only progress up the levels of the pyramid by achieving each level in turn (ie. a level can only be achieved if the one immediately preceding it has also been achieved). However, this stipulation has since been contested.

The Effects Of Childhood Trauma On Our Ability To Ascend Maslow’s Pyramid Of Needs:

Childhood trauma can drastically impinge upon our ability to reach these goals. For example:

- a highly neglectful parent may not feed his/her child properly, meaning that that child’s physiological needs are not met

- a child who lives with a parent who abuses him/her, or lives in a household in which domestic violence exists will live in an atmosphere of fear and, therefore, will not have his/her needs for safety and security met

- the child who is rejected by his/her patents will not have his/her need to belong satisfied nor is s/he likely to develop a solid sense of self-esteem

 

The Buddhist solution to getting off this treadmill which ultimately leads nowhere is simply to stop wanting things and to accept things as they are. Indeed, a fundamental Buddhist teaching is that most of our suffering as humans is tied to this perpetual, insatiable ‘wanting’ as it prevents us from being satisfied with what we have.

However, in a materialistic and capitalist society, in which people’s perception of their worth as a person is closely tied to their career success and financial worth, being satisfied with what we have is perhaps easier said than done.

Not only do our genes compel us to strive for more, but our culture does as well. Indeed, the two are mutually reinforcing.

Resources:

Build Self-Esteem

Feel Safe

Meet Your Human Needs

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


When Parents Evict Their Child.

Parents evict child

My mother forced me out of her house when I was thirteen.

I went to live with my father and step-mother.

They threw me out when I was barely out of my teens.

Did I steal? No. Did I take drugs? Had I ever laid a finger on any of them? No.

So why? I honestly don’t know. My father would only say I was ‘difficult’ and put a ‘strain’ on my step-mother (in fact, my father threw me out at her behest).

It is certainly true I was (as my father always taunted me) ‘morose’ and prone to outbursts of vebal rage. I also once, according to my step-mother, when I was fourteen, knocked a cup of coffee out of her hand (she had recently shouted at me in what she believed to be ‘tongues’ – she was a religious nutcase) although I have no memory of this.

Also, I once threw a set of keys at my bedroom wall, knocking out a little plaster from the wall. Essentially, my step-mother, I think, believed these were signs of some kind of particularly sinister demonic possession.

The final straw came when I told my parents I was gay (actually, I don’t like that word, it sounds so, well, for want of a better word, gay). This, according to my step-mother’s belief system, was unequivocal proof that I was evil beyond redemption, fit only to be eternally tortured in hell.

But the incident that immediately proceeded and finally provoked my banishment from the (soon to be inaccurately described as) ‘family’ home was almost absurd in its triviality:

My father and step-mother had been away on holiday. I took advantage of this by inviting some friends (who had always shown me the greatest hospitality) over for the evening. We drank and played cards. Inadvertantly, one of us (I don’t remember who, and it’s of no relevance) left a cigarette burning in a makeshift cardboard ashtray (the empty tray of a large matchbox).

The results were inevitable : a large, deep burn mark on the table.

On top of this, as the house had only two single bedrooms and one double bedroom (my father’s and step-mother’s) it seemed obvious that I would sleep in my own room, one friend in the other single room, and the two others (brothers) in the double. I did not give this a second thought.

However, on the return of my father and step-mother, the latter was overcome by an utterly irrational fit of moral outrage.

Now, you’d think, (wouldn’t you?), that she’d have been most angered by the burn mark in the table (which I and another friend had, absurdly, tried to paint over, with predictable results).

But, no.

Apparently, by my having allowed the two brothers to sleep in the marital bed (as she put it), it had been besmirched, nay, sullied! It was a crime against God! Against nature!

The next day I was out. My self-esteem was so low, and this seems incredible to me now, that I meekly accepted my forced eviction, feeling I must have somehow deserved it.

My step-mother’s reaction seems so extreme that I now wonder if, projecting her own sexual anxieties, she didn’t suspect that some sort of homosexual/incestuous/generally weird orgy had taken place in the bed.

Sadly, not.

The final irony is that my step-mother was once divorced, had an illegitimate son (from when it was frowned upon) from some transient and ephemeral lover, and was remarried to my father (which the Bible, if my ecclesiastical knowledge has not deserted me, regards as bigamy). Presumably, she only believed in the bits of the Bible she approved of and which she believed, or, rather, conveniently chose to believe, ‘justified’ her venomous prejudices and nauseating moral hypocrisy. How many gay people have killed themselves in response to such religious twaddle? And, fueled by such attitudes, how many have been imprisoned (and sometimes raped by the very people holding them prisoner)? How many tortured? How many executed? And why, will somebody please explain to me, is the Church so utterly obsessed with sex?

Oh, and by the way, she founded and ran a charity for the homeless which garnered her (much to my not inconsiderable chagrin) much social adulation.

 

 

PS. I have briefly recounted the story of being thrown out of my mother’s house elsewhere, so do not repeat myself here.

Resources:

Start to overcome being unloved as a child (instantly downloadable hypnosis audio): click here.

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

 

 

 

 

 


Online Therapies : The Advantages

 online_therapies

We have seen from other articles that I have posted on this site that those of us who experienced significant childhood trauma are at greatly increased risk of developing mental health problems as adults.

Fortunately, in the age of the internet, there now exist opportunities to receive help with any mental health problems we may have from online sources.

There are many advantages to online therapy, including:

– no need for face-to-face contact with a therapist making things easier for those of us who suffer from conditions such as social phobia or agoraphobia; the therapy is undertaken in the comfort and safety of our homes

– we avoid the cost, inconvenience and time wasting of travelling to our therapist for appointments

– as bona fide online mental health services are private and confidential, nobody need know that we are receiving treatment for a mental health condition

– access to the online service can be instant

– you can access the therapy from anywhere (as long as you have access to a smartphone, tablet or computer)

– some online therapy providers, such as providers of instantly downloadable self hypnosis products, offer no quibble money back guarantees (unlike therapists we may see face-to-face)

– generally far less expensive than face to face therapy

– generally much less time consuming than face to face to face therapy

advantages_of_online_therapy

Computerized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CCBT):

One example of the kind of help that can be obtained online is CCBT; this therapy has been approved by the National Institute For Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of depression, panic disordThe Uand generalized anxiety disorder.

Apps:

An increasing number of apps are available to help ameliorate our mental health problems. The UK NHS (National Health Service) recommends the following:

Fearfighter: Online therapy for anxiety and phobias

Silvanxiety: Online therapy for low mood and anxiety

Sleepio: Online therapy for insomnia

NB. These online services generally involve a fee, but some may be available at no charge on the NHS in the United Kingdom.

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

 


What Is Stress Inoculation Training?

stress_inoculation

We have seen in previous articles that if we’ve experienced significant childhood trauma in our lives it is likely that, as adults, we will be far more vulnerable to the adverse effects of stress than is the average person.

One method to help us overcome our vulnerability to the harmful effects of stress was developed by the psychologist Meicenbaum (1985) ; the method is a form of psychotherapy known as stress inoculation training (SIT).

Stress Inoculation Training: 

This therapy is intended to help the individual prepare in advance for potentially stressful situations, increasing his/her resistance to stress, together with his/her ability to manage it.

stress_inoculation

Stress inoculation therapy (SIT) involves the patient undertaking three specific stages. These are as follows:

1) Conceptualization

2) Skills Acquisition and Rehearsal

3) Application and Follow Through

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) CONCEPTUALIZATION:

The patient is encouraged to view the stressor as a challenge to be overcome (as opposed to an insurmountable problem).

S/he is taught to differentiate between what can and what can’t be changed about this challenging situation what can, then to accept what can’t be changed and to focus what can be changed (such as his/her response to it).

S/he is also encouraged to become aware that anticipating not being able to cope with the challenging situation can frequently become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2) SKILLS ACQUISITION AND REHEARSAL:

Once the patient has reconceptualized the potential stressor, s/he is taught skills intended to enable him/her to deal with it in the most effective manner possible. Skills s/he is taught will vary according to individual needs but may include:

– relaxation techniques

emotional regulation (ie control)

- cognitive restructuring/cognitive reappraisal (eg viewing the situation, and the self, in a more positive way)

social skills 

- communication skills

The therapist also helps the patient rehearse for the upcoming potentially stressful situation(eg through visualization exercises and role play)

3) APPLICATION AND FOLLOW THROUGH:

This simply involves putting the above into practice. Sometimes the therapist may utilize a method known as systematic desensitization which involves the patient first being exposed to only a mildly challenging situation, then gradually being exposed to increasingly challenging situations until the patient has mastered his/her fear.

Resource:

Downloadable Hypnosis Audio : Stress Management Pack.

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

 


Radical Acceptance : A Method To Help Us Cope With Trauma

 

The psychologist, Linehan, developed the therapeutic method known as radical acceptance in order to help individuals cope with life’s myriad difficulties in order to help them to recover from the psychological effects that may arise from having experienced childhood trauma, such as, for example, depression and anxiety.

NB The radical acceptance method forms part of the therapy known as dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).

radical_acceptance

The Futility Of ‘Blocking Out’ Reality:

When we attempt to ‘block out’ reality, it frequently leaves us, in the long-run, feeling worse rather than better. It also takes up a considerable amount of mental energy, quite possibly leaving us feeling constantly exhausted, depressed and anxious. (You may wish to read more about this in my article entitled: ‘Why Fighting Depressive Thoughts Can Worsen Them.’ )

Negative events leading to psychological pain are an  inevitable part  of life for everyone. Indeed, even those whose lives we may, superficially, envy will have to face illness, death of friends and loved ones, together, of course, with the prospect of their own eventual demise ; not to mention all the other losses, humiliations, misery, torments and suffering life involves.

According to radical acceptance theory, we need to accept and face up to the negative elements of our lives rather than to try to suppress the painful emotions they evoke. This is because when we suppress our negative feelings, our ability to feel positive feelings is also reduced. Indeed, trying to suppress negative feelings can lead us to feel emotionally numb, dissociated, anxious and depressed.

Denial Of Reality Leading To Addictions:

Furthermore, if we do not permit ourselves to accept our reality, we may, in a feverish and desperate attempt to escape it, turn to dysfunctional and harmful addictive behaviors such as drug taking, excessive drinking, gambling, overeating and workaholism.

Delayed Recovery:

Finally, it should be stated that the denial of our reality, however unpalatable, according to the radical acceptance theory, serves only to delay the psychological recovery process.

We cannot change what has happened in our lives, only our reaction to it.

Resource:

self acceptance hypnosis  Develop Self Acceptance Downloadable Hypnosis Audio.

 

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

 

 


The Relationship With The Sociopathic Mother

 

According to the psychotherapist Christine Louise de Canonville, sociopaths tend to follow a particular pattern in their relationship with others, manipulatively guiding the relationship through three specific phases in a Machiavellian manner. These three stages are as follows:

PHASE 1 : The Idealization Phase

PHASE 2 : The Devaluation Phase

PHASE 3 : The Discarding Phase

Let’s briefly look at each of these phases in turn:

1) Idealization:

In this phase the sociopath presents herself in a positive manner, in order to gain favour and admiration. She may use techniques such as extreme flattery.

If she can make the person she is targeting love and admire her, or, better still, as in the case of a child, become psychologically and emotionally dependent upon her, this makes that person highly vulnerable and gives the sociopath great power to hurt and control him/her.

2) Devaluation:

Once the sociopath has successfully completed phase one, phase two may begin : the devaluation phase. In this stage, the sociopath undermines the person’s self-esteem and confidence. She may deride and mock him/her, treat him/her with contempt and disdain, call him/her hurtful and insulting names, humiliate him/her, and become utterly cold, hostile and aggressive towards the person.

3) Having psychologically destroyed her victim, and the victim is of no further use to her, she loses interest and discards him/her like a plastic disposable razor.

sociopathic_mother

Case Study From Personal Experience:

Whilst my mother has never been diagnosed as a sociopath (to the best of my knowledge), my relationship with her as a child followed the above pattern so closely that it is somewhat disconcerting, to put it mildly; I illustrate this, briefly, below:

1) Idealizing : soon after my parents divorced, my mother started to use me as a kind of personal counsellor. She manipulatively reinforced this behaviour by telling me how caring, compassionate, sensitive and loving I was. She even proudly declared that I was her own, private, ‘Little Psychiatrist.’

2) Devaluing : however, my mother was highly unstable, unpredictable and and prone to fly into terrifying rages as a result of the most trivial ‘provocations’ (as she perceived them to be).

As I entered puberty, to defend myself against her random, devastating psychological assaults (trying to pacify her, even if I was in floods of tears as I did so, made her worse –  indeed, I used to get the strong impression she derived some perverse thrill from my ‘snivelling’, as she would term it).

In a vain attempt to avoid being psychologically crushed, I started to argue with her and stand up for myself. This she could not tolerate. She began to refer to me as ‘scabby’ (I had started to self-harm by picking at my skin), ‘poof’ (I was extremely sensitive) or simply, ‘that little bastard.’

On my thirteenth birthday, in the morning as I got ready for school, she completely ignored me, as did my sixteen year brother (who would always joyously join in and encourage my mother’s verbal assaults, or intentionally instigate them).

Not a syllable was uttered to me (even an insulting one, but somehow being treated as invisible/non-existant, was, if its possible, even worse).

She would also often tell me she wished I’d never been born or that she would throw me out of the house.

3) Discarding : indeed, she did throw me out of the house when I was about thirteen and a half. I was forced to go and live my father and his new wife. I almost immediately intuited I was not wanted there either.

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

 


Effects Of Repressed Anger Towards Parents

 

If our parent/s caused us significant psychological suffering when we were growing up, we may have built up a great deal of anger towards them, but we may, too, have repressed that anger and its cause (ie. buried it deep inside our unconscious).

This repression can occur because consciously facing up to the fact our parents emotionally damaged us so much and that this has made us so angry would be too psychologically painful. Hence, we do not allow ourselves to be consciously aware of this; this is what’s known as a psychological defence mechanism.

However, this repression of the real cause of our anger creates problems. One main problem is that we tend displace (re-direct) this anger onto targets who are not responsible for having created it. The result is we might often become inappropriately and disproportionately angry with people who don’t deserve it (eg. getting into bar – room fights, ‘road rage’ etc).

Alice Miller, the internationally famous expert on how our childhood experiences affect our adult behaviour went so far as to suggest it was Hitler’s own repressed anger which led to World War Two!

repressed_anger

The diagram above shows feelings which often drive and lie beneath the surface of anger.

There are many other signs which may indicate that we are suffering from repressed anger which I list below:

Possible Symptoms Of Repressed Anger:

1) Depression (Freud was of the view that depression is caused by anger being redirected against the self. He also believed that by bringing the real reason for our repressed anger into our conscious minds could very substantially relieve us of our psychological misery and pain. We need to accept this anger, realize its complete validity and not feel guilty about it)

2) Sarcasm (redirecting our hostility towards our parents through being sarcastic to others)

3) Extreme sensitivity to being rejected (if our anger was caused by our parents rejecting us, this is very likely to make it a extremely hard for us to deal with rejection in our adult life)

4) Becoming disproportionately angry due to trivial causes (such as spilling some coffee)

5) Constant tiredness (repressing anger depletes mental energy)

6) Tension in our muscles

7) Addictions (to numb our emotional pain, eg. alcohol, drugs, exercise, shopping, work, food)

8) Nervous habits (such as nail-biting, skin picking)

9) Passive aggression (expressing anger indirectly)

10) Occasional explosive outbursts of rage when the pressure

repressed anger becomes overwhelming).

How Can Repressed Anger Be Treated?:

Repressed anger and its causes need to be gently uncovered in a safe environment with a suitably qualified therapist. The anger then needs to be diffused in a healthy way (ie not in a way which harms the self or others). On no account should the anger be expressed through violence, as this clearly does hurt others and, one way or another, the self as well, compounding the problem substantially.

Resource:

 

anger-management-hypnotheray Anger Management Self-Hypnosis Audio Pack. Click here for further details

 

eBook:

anger_management

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here for more information.

 

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


Ten Main Causes Of Childhood Trauma

 

A major study into the effects of childhood trauma, the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study, which provided overwhelming evidence of the link between childhood trauma and the later development of various psychiatric illnesses, physical illness, and violent behaviour, considered the following ten events/experiences to be representative of the most traumatic a child is likely to experience:

1) Growing up in a household in which a parent/primary caregiver is an alcoholic/chronic abuser of narcotics

2) Growing up in a household in which a parent/primary caregiver goes to prison

3) Growing up in a household in which a parent/primary caregiver has a diagnosable psychiatric condition, such as major depression

4) Growing up in a home in which the mother is physically abused by the father/her partner

5) Experiencing emotional abuse

6) Experiencing sexual abuse

7) Experiencing physical abuse

8) Losing a parent through death/ divorce/separation

9) Experiencing emotional neglect

10) Experiencing physical neglect

Through my whole childhood, including first living with my (highly unstable) mother and (emotionally constipated) father, then with just my mother, then with my mother and her (schizophrenic/alcoholic/jail-bird) live-in lover, then with my father and (religious crackpot, ‘tongue-speaking’, demonizing) step-mother, I’ve just calculated I experienced eight of these; not quite a full-house, admittedly. However, in this context, the term ‘full-house’ is grotesquely ironic, of course.

Some people, alas, have experienced all ten (and possibly more, as the above list is not exhaustive – it does not include, for example, the experiencing of natural disasters).

An infographic, summarizing the above and also showing prevalence (by percentage of all individuals surveyed) is displayed below:

Ten_types_of_childhood_traums

 

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

 

 

 


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