Perhaps the best known study on the effects of adverse childhood experiences on later life was conducted by Felleti and was called, not inappropriately, THE ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCESS STUDY, abbreviated to the ACE Study.
One of Felettis main aims in carrying out this study was to increase public and professional awareness of the enormous importance of the impact of childhood on adult lives and, therefore, of course, on society in general.
All too often individuals fail to identify the intimate connection between adult psychological problems and the adverse childhood experiences linked to these problems – this is also true of professionals who should know better; frequently, patients who present themselves to doctors and clinicians with conditions such as anxiety and depression are simply palmed off with medication (which often does not work and/or has unwanted side-effects) whilst the possible underlying cause, often a traumatic childhood, is utterly ignored.
Indeed, I know this from my own experience; I suffered severe anxiety and depression and for years and years no clinician so much as enquired about my (highly unstable and traumatic) childhood; instead, I was given powerful medication (which, I later discovered, dramatically reduces life expectancy due to its toxicity) and even ECT (which did not work and was traumatic and frightening to undergo [although it does work very well for some, according to the literature]).
However, when considering the potentially damaging effects our traumatic childhoods may have had upon us, it is also highly pertinent to consider the following questions:
1) How old we were when we experienced childhood trauma (for some, of course, sadly, this may encompass their entire childhoods).
This is important as various traumatic experiences effect us differently depending upon our age at the time.
2) What support, if any, was there for us from any family members and/or caregivers not involved in causing the trauma?
This is important as the greater our level of emotional support at the time of our traumatic experiences the more psychologically resilient we are likely to have been thus potentially reducing the adverse effects of these traumatic events.
3) Was the person/s who caused our trauma related to us and/or supposed to be our caregiver?
In general terms, trauma induced by someone who is supposed to be our caregiver, particularly a parent, is very significantly more psychologically damaging to us than had the trauma been inflicted upon us by someone not falling within this category.
4) Did traumatic events occur to us that we do not remember (e.g. because we were so young or because these experiences were so emotionally painful that we have repressed them [i.e. blocked them out from our conscious awareness?]).
This is important as we may have been significantly psychologically damaged by events that are now not available to conscious access (however, any attempt to ‘recover buried memories’ must be undertaken with extreme caution as some so-called recovery techniques can lead to the creation of false memories.
Traumatic Childhood? Click here.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery