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Author Archives: David Hosier Msc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of childhoodtraumarecovery.com. Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

Parents With PTSD : Possible Effects On The Child

parents with ptsd effects on child

There are many ways in which a parent suffering from PTSD may adversely affect the lives of their children and I describe examples of these below :

Modelling Parental Behavior :

One of the most fundamental ways in which the child learns, especially when young, is by observing his/her parents and modelling his/her own behavior upon theirs. And, because the child lacks reference points with which to compare his/her parents behavior, it seems ‘normal’ and acceptable.

The child, then, has an innate propensity to imitate his/her parents ; this means s/he is likely to imitate not only healthy behaviors, but unhealthy parental behaviors, too ; so, for example, if the child has a parent who suffers from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and one of the symptoms of that PTSD is aggression, the child him/herself is at risk of also developing aggressive behavior. This could manifest itself in many ways, including bullying peers at school or a younger sibling.

Of course, aggressive behavior is just one example, the child may also imitate other unhealthy behaviors the parent displays that are symptomatic of PTSD.

Financial Stress :

A parent with PTSD may be so incapacitated by the illness that s/he is unable to work. This can generate more stress in the household which, in turn, can adversely affect the child’s quality of life.

Irrational Self-Blame :

It is common for children living within stressful households caused by a parent’s psychiatric condition to irrationally blame themselves for the situation. For example, if the parent displaces their anger (caused by PTSD) onto the child, the child may well infer s/he is ‘bad’ and ‘deserves’ to be ill-treated, rather than realizing that the parent’s abusive behavior is a symptom of his/her PTSD.

Helplessness / Feelings Of Being Unwanted :

The child may feel helpless and impotent to make the parent feel better. As a result, s/he may begin to feel ‘surplus to requirements’, a ‘burden’ and ‘unwanted.’

The feeling of being unwanted may be exacerbated if the parent’s PTSD means s/he withdraws and detaches from the child and neglects him/her (emotionally and/or physically)

Impaired Ability To Trust :

If the parent is highly emotionally dysregulated s/he may punish/discipline the child unpredictably and unjustly. This can make it hard for the child to trust the parent. This lack of trust can then extend to others. As time goes on, the child may come to distrust people in general and to view the world as a dangerous place, prematurely losing their care-free innocence.

Social Isolation :

The parent’s PTSD may lead the child to become increasingly socially isolated. For example, s/he may fear inviting his/her friends around to their house/apartment in case their unpredictable parent acts inappropriately (e.g. explodes into a fit of irrational rage).

Or the parent with PTSD may become so withdrawn that s/he stops inviting the wider family to the house/apartment or stops taking their child to visit extended family members.

Also, financial pressures could mean the child needs to be withdrawn from clubs/societies that charge fees.

Hypervigilance :

If the parent, due to his/her PTSD, becomes frequently prone to explosive and unpredictable outbursts of rage the child may develop hypervigilance (a constant, stressful sense of being on ‘red alert’ and a feeling that danger could strike at any moment). This, in turn, can lead to other problems such as depression, anxiety and difficulties concentrating; it may also lead to the child developing his/her own anger management difficulties.

In relation to this, the child may sometimes – entirely inadvertently and innocently – trigger ‘flashbacks’ in the parent with PTSD and then be unable to understand why s/he has caused his/her parent such distress.

Parentification :

The parent may start to rely on the child for emotional / physical support at a time when the child is not sufficiently emotionally mature to shoulder such a burden. (To read my previously published article on ‘PARENTIFICATION’ and its possible adverse effects upon the child, click here).

Resentment And Self-Hatred :

The child may, naturally, come to resent the parent for the stressful conditions s/he is now forced to live in but then feel guilty and full of self-loathing for having such feelings

Low Self-Worth :

Many children growing up in conditions in which they are forced to contend with difficulties such as those described above may incur very substantial and long-lasting damage to their sense of self-worth.

 

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

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Acrimonious Divorces May Damage Children’s Immune Systems

acrimonious divorces may harm children's immune systems

A study conducted by Murphy et al (2017) suggests that childhood trauma (and, specifically, in this case, the experience, as a child, of having had parents who divorced acrimoniously) can adversely affect the immune system.

The study involved 201 ‘normal’ adult participants whose parents had separated during their childhoods. The participants were divided into two categories :

CATEGORY ONE : Those whose parents had separated amicably and civilly

CATEGORY TWO : Those whose parents had separated acrimoniously (e.g. frequently shouted and yelled at one another or refused to talk to one another)

RESULTS OF THE STUDY :

It was found that those adults in category two (i.e. those whose parents had separated acrimoniously when they were children) had weaker immune systems than those adults in category one (i.e. those who had parents who had separated amicably when they were children).

This was inferred from the fact that it was found that those from group one were less prone to common colds and similar conditions.

(It should be noted, however, that a sample of 201 for such a study is low which could affect the validity of the findings and that, because of this, further, similar studies need to be conducted using larger samples of participants).

effect of divorce on immune system

THE THEORY THAT UNDERLIES THESE FINDINGS :

The theory that underlies these findings is that NEGATIVE EMOTIONS IN GENERAL (such as depression, anxiety, chronic stress etc) harm individuals’ physiology and inflammatory processes and this harm may still be apparent decades later. However, precise details of the mechanism that underpins this harmful process is not, as yet, entirely understood (so, clearly, more research will also be necessary to resolve this matter). Assuming this theory is correct (and there is much evidence it is), then it follows that it is not just the experience of having parents who divorce acrimoniously that may lead to damage to the immune system, but any significant childhood trauma that results chronic stress and negative emotions.

CONCLUSION :

Children whose parents divorce acrimoniously are more likely to incur damage to their immune systems (that endures well into adulthood) than those whose parents divorce amicably / civilly (all else being equal) according to the findings of this study. However, future similar studies are necessary in order to add weight of evidence to these results.

N.B This is NOT to say children whose parents divorce relatively civilly are not psychologically damaged and it is also NOT to say that such children suffer no harm to their immune systems as a result of their parents’ divorce ; it can only be inferred, in the light of this study, that if one’s parents divorce amicably this may operate as a protective psychological factor, protecting the child from the worst of the detrimental emotional effects of divorce. For more information about the effects, in general, of divorce upon children you may wish to read my previously published article entitled : POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN.

 

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

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Narcissistic Mother Checklist (And Useful Links)

narcissistic mother checklist

Narcissistic Mother Checklist :

I have published many articles about narcissism on this site, including articles about how traumatizing it is for children to be brought up by a narcissistic parent.

In this article, I wish to distill down into one list the most prominent traits, characteristics, attitudes and behaviors that the narcissistic mother may display ; here is the list (the useful, clickable links are in BLUE – clicking on these will take you directly to the relevant article in this site’s archives) :

 

  • extreme reluctance to admit being in the wrong (due to being in a state of denial, lack of insight or dishonesty) and, in the unlikely event that she does, minimizes or makes light of the harm done by her behavior
  • undermines, criticizes and denigrates you
  • treats you with contempt, disdain and derision
  • treats you dismissively, including being dismissive of your legitimate and deeply felt feelings
  • does not respect your personal boundaries
  • makes you question yourself / keeps you ‘off balance’ / mentally disorientated and confused
  • can make you start to question your own sanity, including by using the ‘gaslighting‘ technique
  • prone to jealousy and envy
  • vindictive
  • resentful and unforgiving
  • holds grudges
  • deceitful and devious

(This list continues after the inserted image)

narcissistic mother checklist

  • constant need to be center of attention
  • sees self as being ‘at the center of the universe’
  • hypersensitive
  • self-absorbed
  • emotionally ‘terrorizes’ you
  • selfish
  • immature
  • petty
  • undermines and interferes with your relationships
  • prone to extreme aggression
  • exploits and takes advantage of you
  • behaves how she likes and shows no shame about this (however, narcissists feel an extreme amount of internal shame)
  • parentifies you
  • seems oblivious to the sensitivity, feelings and vulnerability of others
  • blames others
  • as a psychological defense mechanism often unconsciously projects her own negative feelings about herself onto you

(The above list is not exhaustive and individuals suffering from narcissistic personality disorder will not necessarily demonstrate all of the above traits, characteristics, attitudes and behaviors.)

 

RESOURCE :

DEALING WITH NARCISSIST BEHAVIOR – click here for further details.

eBook :

emotional abuse ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further details.

 

You may also wish to read my article : FOUR TYPES OF BORDERLINE MOTHER

or you may wish to browse all my articles on the subject of narcissistic personality disorder.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

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Do BPD Sufferers Have A ‘Split Personality’?

do people with BPD have a split personality?

In terms of symptoms, there exists a clear overlap between the psychiatric conditions of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). DID used to be referred to multiple-personality disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder And ‘Splitting’

‘Splitting’ is a psychological defense mechanism in which one ‘part’ of the personality becomes separated / un-integrated with / isolated from another ‘part’ of the personality. In the case of individuals suffering from BPD, these two parts can, in simple terms, be described as PART ONE and PART TWO, where :

PART ONE represents the part of the person’s personality which is relatively accepting of him/herself and others

whereas :

PART TWO represents the part of the person’s personality which is full of self-hatred, as well as anger and hostility (and, underlying the latter two emotions, fear of being psychologically harmed) in relation to others.

When PART ONE is ‘operational’, it tends to enter a state of denial about the existence of PART TWO.

This may be because when PART ONE is ‘in charge’, the individual develops a state of mind similar to amnesia regarding  the existence PART TWO ; alternatively, the denial may be underpinned by feelings of profound shame. However, more research needs to be conducted in relation to these possibilities.

‘Splitting’ and amnesia (when one part of the personality is unaware of how another part of the personality has manifested itself) are also symptoms of dissociative identity disorder.

do BPD sufferers have a split personality?

Borderline Personality Disorder And ‘Switching’ Between ‘Part One’ And ‘Part Two’

As stated above, ‘PART ONE’ and ‘PART TWO’ have become un-intergrated in the personality of individuals suffering from BPD (the BPD sufferers personality, in this respect, may be described as having ‘disintegrated’). A more formal way to put this would be to describe the BPD sufferer as having an un-integrated ego-state (in contrast to the relatively integrated ego-state that psychologically ‘healthy’ individuals enjoy).

Those with BPD ‘switch’ between ‘PART ONE’ and ‘PART TWO’ and this can occur quite suddenly (but is not usually dramatically instantaneous).

Furthermore, these unintegrated ego-states interfere with each other (because they are not completely separate from one another) and this may cause symptoms such as the following :

  • unstable mood / affect / emotions (sometimes referred to as emotional lability)
  • unstable sense of identity (some sufferers describe this with phrases such as : ‘I have no idea who I am…’).

How ‘Splitting’ Affects The BPD Sufferer’s Relationships With Others :

When ‘PART ONE’ is ‘in charge’, the BPD sufferer desires emotional attachments with others. However, when ‘PART TWO’ is dominant, s/he becomes hostile towards others and withdraws from them – this leads to the classic ‘love-hate’ scenario.

Why Does This Unintegrated Ego-State Arise In Those Suffering From BPD?

The two separate parts can develop in a person who has suffered severe and prolonged abuse as a child.

When the abused child becomes an adult, PART TWO (hostility etc) can be kept in abeyance for much of the time to allow daily social functioning. However, PART ONE makes itself apparent when the BPD sufferer is reminded of the abuse s/he suffered as a child (such a reminder is called a ‘trigger’).

This reminder/trigger may be detected by the BPD sufferer consciously or unconsciously and occurs as a defense mechanism against real or perceived psychological threat (especially the treat of betrayal, rejection or abandonment as occurred in the individual’s childhood).

If the individual had not developed this defense mechanism as a child, s/he faced what may reasonably be termed as ‘psychological destruction.’ In other words, the development of the ‘splitting’ defense mechanism makes complete evolutionary sense as it allowed the individual to survive childhood – it is a normal, predictable, adaptive response to childhood loss, fear, distress and betrayal.

Conclusion ;

There is an overlap between symptoms of borderline personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder in as far as they both involve ‘splitting’ and ‘dissociating’. However, in the case of DID, the separation between the different PARTS of personality are MORE DISTINCT AND CLEAR CUT THAN THEY ARE IN THE CASE BPD. Those suffering from DID may have more than two un-integrated / separate PARTS of their personality / ego-state ; however, arguably, this can also be the case in those suffering from BPD (although this is beyond the scope of this article).

In conclusion, though, we can say, with some confidence, that BPD sufferers do have a ‘split personality’, but the division between these two parts is more nebulous than in the case of DID sufferers.

eBook :

BPD ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further details.

 

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

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Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Trauma Can Seriously Adversely Affect The Nervous System

how trauma can adversely affect the nervous system

Peter Levine, an expert on the effects of trauma on the body, states that as a result of severe and prolonged trauma, the functioning of our nervous systems can become seriously disrupted. More specifically, traumatized individuals can suffer from dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system.

What Is The Autonomic Nervous System?

The autonomic nervous system operates below the level of conscious awareness (i.e. it functions involuntarily) and consists of two sub-systems : the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

What Are The Sympathetic And Parasympathetic Sub-Systems?

The Sympathetic Sub-System :

This sub-system of the autonomic nervous system is ‘switched on’ when we are faced with threat/danger/emergencies in order to mobilize extra energy that the body may require for fight/flight.

The Parasympathetic Sub-System :

This sub-system of the autonomic nervous system is ‘switched on’ when we are in a state of relaxation.

 

How Does The Autonomic Nervous System Become Dysregulated And What Effect Does Such Dysregulation Have On The Individual?

Trauma can cause the autonomic nervous system to become dysregulated in two main ways :

  1. The sympathetic sub-system can become ‘stuck’ / ‘locked on’
  2. The parasympathetic sub-system can become ‘stuck’ / ‘locked on’

A traumatized individual, whose traumatic experiences remain unprocessed, may become ‘stuck’ / ‘locked into’ one of the above two extremes or may oscillate back and forth between the them ; their is a loss of homeostasis (i.e. healthy balance between the two systems). In the absence of effective therapy, such dysregulation can persist for months, or, as in my own case, for years. I briefly outline the effects of these two types of dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system below :

trauma adverse effect on nervous system

Above : Effects of the activation of each of the two sub-systems on heart rate. Other effects of the two sub-systems shown below :

 

EFFECTS OF THE SYMPATHETIC SUB-SYSTEM BEING ‘LOCKED ON’ :

 

  • increased heart rate
  • fear
  • anxiety
  • panic
  • hypervigilance
  • insomnia
  • mania
  • anger / rage / hostility
  • chronic pain
  • emotional flooding
  • digestion inhibited
  • adrenal glands secrete epinephrine and norepinephrine
  • bronchioles are dilated

EFFECTS OF THE PARASYMPATHETIC SUB-SYSTEM BEING ‘LOCKED ON’ :

NB. The normal function of the parasympathetic sub-system is to facilitate rest and recovery after the sympathetic sub-system has been activated and the danger has passed – however, severe trauma can lead to the body ‘shutting down’ too much leading to symptoms such as those shown above.

THERAPY :

A therapy that has been specifically designed for individuals who have experienced trauma leading to dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (as described above) is called SOMATIC EXPERIENCING THERAPY.

 

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

 

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3 Ways To Classify Trauma

3 ways to classify trauma

Terr (1991) in an article published in the American Journal Of Psychiatry, proposes three classifications of trauma. These are as follows :

Terr’s 3 Classifications Of Trauma :

  1. ACUTE TRAUMA (Type I Trauma)
  2. COMPLEX TRAUMA (Type II Trauma)
  3. CROSSOVER TRAUMA (Type III Trauma)

Below, I briefly define and provide examples of these three classifications of trauma :

  1. ACUTE TRAUMA (Type I Trauma): this results from an individual being exposed to a single, overwhelming traumatic event such as the death of a parent during one’s childhood. According to Terr, chief characteristics of acute trauma include detailed memories relating to the traumatic event, an exaggerated startle response, hypervigilance, emotional overreactions and misperceptions.
  2. COMPLEX TRAUMA (Type II Trauma): this results from protracted exposure to traumatizing situations and events such as years of emotional abuse by one’s parents during childhood. According to Terr, chief characteristics of complex trauma include dissociation, psychological numbing, rage, social withdrawal, and a sense of a foreshortened future.
  3. CROSSOVER TRAUMA (Type III Trauma): like acute trauma (see above), crossover trauma also results from a single, overwhelming event ; however, in the case of crossover trauma, the traumatic event is so devastating that the adverse psychological effects of the trauma are long-term. An example of this type of trauma is being involved in a car crash in which other family members are killed. Terr states that chief characteristics of crossover trauma include extended mourning/depression, chronic pain,  sleep disturbances (such as insomnia and nightmares), difficulties concentrating and irritability.

types of trauma

The above forms of trauma are types of DIRECT traumatic experience. However, it is also possible to experience trauma INDIRECTLY. The indirect experience of trauma is also sometimes referred to as SECONDARY TRAUMA or VICARIOUS TRAUMA :

What Is Meant By Secondary / Vicarious Trauma, Who Does It Affect And What Are The Symptoms?

This can affect professionals who work with traumatized individuals and refers to the adverse psychological consequences that might be suffered by such professionals as a result of such work – this is also sometimes referred to as compassion fatigue; symptoms of compassion fatigue include exhaustion, emotional numbness, withdrawal and poor concentration (all of which may impair work performance). Professionals who work with traumatized individuals and who have little support or have suffered significant trauma in their own lives are especially at risk of developing secondary trauma / vicarious trauma / compassion fatigue.

 

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

 

 

 

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Posttraumatic Growth : An Existential Perspective

posttraumatic existential growth

We have seen from other articles that I have published in the ‘Postraumatic Growth’ section (see MAIN MENU at the top of this page) of this site that it is not only possible to recover from the adverse effects of trauma but even to go on to develop as an individual in response them in ways that would not have been possible had the traumatic events not occurred.

The concept of posttraumatic growth is closely related to existential philosophy / psychology. Yalom (1980) asserts that the four fundamental existential concerns that mankind faces are :

DEATH

FREEDOM

ISOLATION

MEANINGLESSNESS

Whilst most people go through life without dwelling on these four existential concerns too deeply (distracted as they are by life’s more superficial and mundane problems), there are certain life events that can bring them sharply into focus, including what Yalom refers to as a ‘COLLAPSE IN MEANING-MAKING SCHEMAas may occur as a result of severely traumatic experiences. (The term schema refers to the mental models we construct that help us make sense of / interpret the world around us. To read my article : ‘Childhood Trauma Leading To The Development Of Negative Schema’, click here.)

existential crisis

Yahom suggests that when a person becomes aware of one (or more) of these existential concerns as a result of trauma, s/he will enter a state of anxiety (i’e’ s/he will experience as EXISTENTIAL CRISIS).

Crucially, however, Yahom states, how long this state of anxiety lasts, together with its intensity, determines whether or not the individual who experiences the existential crisis a result of his / her traumatic experiences enters :

A) A positive state of posttraumatic growth 

or

B) A negative state of psychopathology

If s/he is fortunate enough to enter a positive state of posttraumatic growth, the individual can experience a profound sense of renewed meaning in life.

In relation to existential concerns, this may involve a far deeper appreciation of life given a more vivid awareness of one’s mortality and how precarious human existence is (specifically, this is connected to the existential concerns of meaning and death).

Or, to provide another example, a person may realize, given life’s brevity and uncertainty, s/he should make the free choice to live life more authentically, perhaps involving a radical change of career, lifestyle and social acquaintances (specifically, this is connected to the existential concerns of death and what to do with one’s freedom of choice).

A third example would be that of a person who finds a new, meaningful cause, related to the traumatic experience s/he suffered, to work for in life, such as a person who survived a highly disturbed childhood deciding to undertake helping disturbed children as his/her vocation (specifically, this is connected to the existential concern of finding meaning in life, and, thus, overcoming an existing, perceived state of meaninglessness).

 

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

 

 

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Steps To Trauma Recovery

steps to trauma recovery

The psychoanalyst, Rothschild, in her excellent book ‘Keys To Safe Trauma Recovery‘, suggests that recovery from trauma entails just a handful of majo elements and I list these below. Underneath some of the elements that appear on the list I have added my own short elaborations and elucidations in terms of how each element may relate specifically to recovery from childhood trauma.

1) Recognizing that one has experienced trauma and survived it.

In the case of childhood trauma it is essential that the victim’s feelings in relation to it are validated by at least one significant other ; the psychotherapist and childhood trauma expert Alice Miller termed such a person an ‘enlightened witness’. An enlightened witness is so vital because It is not unusual for other members of the traumatized individual’s family to invalidate the his/her feelings (e.g. belittling them or dismissing them) for reasons connected to their own guilt and complicity.

2) Coming to terms with flashbacks and understanding their relationship to traumatic memories (to read my article Horowitz’s Information Processing Theory, Flashbacks And Nightmares‘, click here).

3) Self-Compassion

Many individuals suffer from IRRATIONAL feelings of self-blame and guilt in relation to their traumatic childhood experiences ; for example, a child whose parents divorce may erroneously blame him/herself for the parents’ marital breakdown. It is essential to free oneself from such inaccurate and self-destructive beliefs.

To read my article on ‘Compassion Focused Therapy For The Effects Of Childhood Trauma‘, click here.

steps to trauma recovery

4) The need to overcome feelings of shame

Closely related to self-blame and guilt, irrational feelings of shame are also extremely common amongst survivors of childhood trauma and the victim may require significant therapeutic intervention to facilitate the amelioration of such feelings.To read my article entitled ‘Shame And Its Agonizing Effects‘, click here.

5) Recovery from trauma best achieved by breaking the recovery process down into small, manageable steps.

6) Mobilizing the body out of its ‘frozen’ state

Trauma affects the body’s biological functioning and can have the effect of ‘freezing’ it into a state of physiological HYPERAROUSAL and FEAR. Exercising for about 30 minutes a day can help ‘unfreeeze’ the body, not least because it helps to return adrenaline levels to normal (those ‘frozen’ in a hyperaroused and fearful state have an excess of adrenaline coursing through their systems, contributing significantly to feelings of physical tension and associated emotional distress.

7) Deriving meaning and purpose from one’s traumatic experiences in a way that leads to self-improvement.

This essentially refers the concept of posttraumatic growth. A whole category of this site is devoted to posttraumatic growth articles (see MAIN MENU at the top of the page).

 

THERAPIES :

Therapies that can be effective for individuals who have suffered childhood trauma include ‘talking therapies’ such as counselling and psychotherapy. Also, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can be very effective.

 

 

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

 

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Diagnosing BPD In Adolescents : Why Some Clinicians Don’t Like Doing It

diagnosing BPD in adolescents

Whilst borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be diagnosed in adolescents, some clinicians may be reluctant to do so ; I summarize some of the main reasons for this below :

– Symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) may overlap lap to some degree with non-pathological (‘normal’) adolescent behaviors which can somewhat muddy the waters when it comes to attempting to make a clear, unambiguous and unequivocal diagnosis.

– The personality of the adolescent is still developing and is not yet fully formed

– Although it is less the case now than it was (in even the relatively recent past) a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is still often perceived as being stigmatizing and can potentially make the adolescent feel yet worse about himself/herself when his/her self-esteem and sense of self-worth is already extremely low (low self-esteem and low sense of self-worth are hallmark symptoms of BPD).

However, some individuals also feel a great sense of relief to have a diagnosis as it helps them to understand the root causes of their dysfunctional behaviors and therefore feel less guilty (feelings of intense, irrational guilt are another hallmark symptom of BPD).

Also, of course, an accurate diagnosis helps to ensure appropriate and effective treatment is given (see RISK OF SUICIDE below); at present, the most effective treatment for BPD is considered to be dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Whilst DBT is a therapy that was initially developed in order to help to treat adults with BPD, it is possible to adapt it to the needs of the adolescent. However, the majority of clinicians are still reluctant to make the diagnosis of BPD in young people who are under the age of eighteen years.

– Because BPD has its roots in childhood experience, it is likely that some clinicians are worried about diagnosing BPD in the adolescent in case the parents may regard it as a negative judgment upon them and therefore become upset or angry.

However, if the parents’ behavior has seriously damaged their child, then alerting them to the fact may galvanize them into making a concerted effort to improve the manner in which they treat the young person (sadly, of course, this can’t be guaranteed ; indeed. abusive parents may feel humiliated at take it out on the child).

– Because BPD sufferers tend to be gravely misunderstood, even by those entrusted with their care and treatment, some clinicians may be reluctant to diagnose adolescents with BPD in case it results in them being treated with prejudice and discriminated against by other clinicians they may come into contact with in later life,

THE RISK OF SUICIDE :

It is vital to remember that one in ten (yes, 10%) of individuals with BPD end up dying by suicide. This statistic demonstrates the vital importance of the earliest possible therapeutic intervention for those suffering from this profoundly painful and complex condition. Clearly, a prerequisite to effective treatment is sensitive, timely and accurate diagnosis.

eBook :

BPD ebook

The above eBook Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Borderline Personality Disorder, is now available for instant download from Amazon. Click on above image or click here for details (other titles available).

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

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Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Controlling Emotions : The Emotional Regulation System

controlling emotions

We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that if, as children, we experienced, significant and protracted trauma we are at increased risk of developing various psychological difficulties as adults, including an increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex posttraumatic  stress disorder.

One of the hallmarks of BPD, as we have also seen from other articles, is that the sufferer of the condition finds it very difficult indeed to control intense and volatile emotions. In effect, the emotional regulation system of individuals diagnosed with BPD is out of kilter and dysfunctional.

What Is The Emotional Regulation System?

The emotional regulation system is fundamentally comprised of three interacting parts of the brain ; these are as follows :

  1. THE THREAT SYSTEM (detects and reacts to threats)
  2. THE DRIVE SYSTEM (motivates us to identify and seek resources)
  3. THE SOOTHING SYSTEM  (helps balance the two systems above and engenders in us a sense of well-being, satisfaction and contentment)

Each of these three systems is neither good nor bad per seas long as they are in balance and interacting in a healthy and functional way. However, each system is vulnerable to becoming dysfunctional (as occurs in the case of those suffering from BPD, for example). TO READ ABOUT WAYS IN WHICH THESE SYSTEMS CAN BECOME DYSFUNCTIONAL AND THERAPIES THAT CAN HELP, YOU MAY LIKE TO READ ANOTHER OF MY POSTS ON THE EMOTIONAL REGULATION SYSTEM BY CLICKING HERE.

how to control emotions

THE ROLE OF NEUROPLASTICITY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EMOTIONAL REGULATION SYSTEM :

The way in which the brain is shaped and develops depends, to a large degree, upon our early life experiences ; this is because of a quality of the brain known as neuroplasticity which you can read about by clicking here.

Because of the brain’s neuroplasticity, if, when we are young, we are constantly exposed to fear and danger because, for example, of the abusive treatment we receive from a parent or primary care giver, the THREAT SYSTEM is at very high risk of being constantly over-activated in a way that leads it to operate in a dysfunctional manner ; this dysfunction takes the form of the fight/flight/freeze; response becoming hypersensitive, resulting in the affected individual developing grave difficulties keeping related emotions (such as anger, fear and anxiety) in check. Without appropriate therapy, such dysfunction may last well into adulthood or even for an entire lifetime.

On the other hand, if, when we are young, we experience consistent and secure love, care and emotional warmth from our parents / primary caregivers, our SOOTHING SYSTEM is ‘nourished’ and becomes optimally (or close to optimally) developed resulting in us becoming more able to cope with life’s inevitable stressors, less vulnerable to feelings of anxiety and fear, and more able to calm ourselves down and ‘self-sooth’ than those who had who were brought up in an environment in which they were constantly exposed to fear and danger.

However, even if we have had a traumatic early life and have problems regulating our emotions, there are various, simple things we can do to us control our feelings (see below).

 

  • AVOID REACTING IMMEDIATELY / IMPULSIVELY : For example, if someone triggers our anger, rather than making a reflexive response (such as saying something we’ll deeply regret later) it is better to wait until the rage has subsided – this may involve calming physiological symptoms like fast heart rate and tense muscles by using relaxation exercises such as deep breathing and visualization ; we may, therefore, need to remove ourselves for a while (if possible) from the presence of whoever it may be that has upset us.
  • MAKE POSITIVE ALTERATIONS TO THE SITUATION GIVING RISE TO OUR NEGATIVE EMOTIONS (although this will not always be feasible, of course)
  • ALTER FOCUS OF ATTENTION (e.g. undertaking a distracting activity)
  • ALTER WAY IN WHICH WE ARE THINKING ABOUT THE SITUATION : A therapy that can help with this is COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT).

USING NEUROPLASTICITY TO OUR ADVANTAGE :

Although the brain’s quality of neuroplasticity can work against us if we experience a traumatic early life, we can also take advantage of it later in life to help reverse any damage that was done to the development of our young and vulnerable brains. In order to learn more about how this may be possible, you may wish read my article MENDING THE MIND : SELF-DIRECTED NEUROPLASTICITY.

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (DBT) :

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a therapy that was designed primarily for those who are suffering from borderline personality disorder (see above). A particularly useful skill taught within this therapy is called DISTRESS TOLERANCE which can be very helpful for those experiencing emotional distress due to intense, negative feelings.

COMPASSION FOCUSED THERAPY (CFT) :

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) can also be an effective therapy for those suffering from emotional dysregulation.

 

RESOURCE :

CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS – SELF-HYPNOSIS DOWNLOAD. Click HERE for

further information.

 

eBook :

childhood trauma damages brain ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. For further information, click here.

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

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