Category Archives: Anger And Violence

Effects Of Anger On Brain And Body

effects of anger on brain and body

We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that, if we suffered childhood trauma, our risk of developing problems controlling our anger as adults increases, especially if our experience of trauma was so severe that we have gone on to develop borderline personality disorder.

Five major causes of anger are fear, rejection, frustration, disappointment and being negatively evaluated by others. When such causes occur, a chain reaction takes place within the brain :

First, the region of the brain known as the amygdala is activated (one of the consequences of childhood trauma is that the amygdala can become highly sensitive and over-reactive); in turn, the amygdala activates the hippocampus which, in its turn, activates the pituatary gland.

The pituary gland then activates the adrenal glands which produce stress hormones including :

cortisol

adrenaline

noradrenaline

THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF CORTISOL ON THE BRAIN :

Excessive cortisol :

– harms the prefrontal cortex

– harms the hippocampus

– reduces levels of serotonin

I provide more details about these three adverse effects below :

Cortisol can cause neurons in the brain to absorb excessive quantities of calcium which, in turn, can cause these same neurons to fire too frequently and die.

Two areas of the brain which are especially vulnerable to losing neurons in this way are the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus ; let’s look a little more closely at the implications of this :

ADVERSE EFFECT ON PREFRONTAL CORTEX :

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain involved in planning, judgment and decision making ; it follows, therefore, that the loss of neurons in this part of the brain impairs these functions.

ADVERSE EFFECT ON HIPPOCAMPUS :

The hippocampus is the part of the brain involved in short-term memory and the formation of new memories ; again, it follows that the loss of neurons in this part of the brain impairs these functions.

REDUCTION OF SEROTONIN LEVELS :

Levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are lowered ; lowered levels of serotonin are associated with : increased aggression, increased sensitivity to painful stimuli, increased susceptibility to depression.

THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF STRESS HORMONES ON THE BODY :

Excessive levels of stress hormones generated by anger also physically damage the body ; in particular, harm is incurred by :

the immune system

– the cardiovascular system

– the digestive system

Let’s look at how these bodily systems are damaged in a little more detail :

THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM : impaired functioning of the metabolic system, reduction in blood flow

THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM : increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased levels of glucose levels in the blood, increased levels of fatty acids in the blood, increase in tension of the arteries – these symptoms in turn increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

THE IMMUNE SYSTEM : impaired functioning of the thyroid, increase in the number of cells infected by viruses, reduction in the levels of diseases fighting cells, increased risk of cancer

eBook :

childhood trauma control anger

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MANAGER YOUR ANGER PACK | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

 

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

 

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Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Forgiveness And Its Health Benefits

 

Why Is Forgiveness Beneficial For Our Health And Prospects Of Recovery?

If we have suffered childhood trauma as a result of our parents’ abusive behavior or neglect, we may grow up feeling angry and resentful towards them. Furthermore, as a result of our childhood experiences, our own behavior in the past may have been dysfunctional and self-destructive and we may feel angry with ourselves about this.

Feeling angry towards our parents and/or ourselves, though, can act as a very major impediment to our recovery from the effects of our childhood trauma – so this is one vitally important reason why forgiving ourselves and our parents can be an extremely positive and helpful thing to do ; after all, feeling constantly bitter, angry and resentful is an exhausting and painful frame of mind to endure (in most cases simply harming ourselves rather than anybody else; this idea is pithily encapsulated by the well known aphorism that (to paraphrase) being filled with anger, vengefulness and resentment is akin to drinking poison and expecting our enemy to die. 

In short, being preoccupied with feelings of resentment keeps us trapped in the past and prevents us living in, and enjoying, the present.

Physical Benefits Of Forgiveness :

Also, the act of forgiveness, assuming it is freely chosen and authentic rather than something we have reluctantly forced ourselves to do, is most important for our physical health and I briefly explain why below :

  • being constantly angry locks our nervous systems into the ‘fight or flight’ state; this results in various physiological changes in our bodies which, in turn, makes us more susceptible to heart disease / attacks; it follows, therefore, that letting go of our anger and practicing forgiveness will make us less likely to experience such heart problems
  • chronic anger also increases our risk of diabetes
  • chronic anger increases the risk of high blood pressure

Also, according to research carried out by The John Hopkins Hospital, practicing forgiveness can:

  • help to alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety
  • improve sleep
  • lower levels of cholesterol

Compassion :

Forgiving ourselves and others are acts of compassion and research shows that developing compassion can help us to overcome the adverse effects of childhood trauma; in relation to this, you may wish to read my article on compassion focussed therapy.

Resources :

LEARN TO FORGIVE | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

FORGIVE YOURSELF | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

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

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So-Called ‘Psychopathic Traits’ In Adolescents Often Symptoms Of Intense Emotional Distress

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnessedition 5 (DSMV), psychopathy is listed under antisocial personality disorders and it is currently hypothesized that the disorder is rooted significantly in genetic determinants and involves chemical abnormalities in the brain. In other words, the condition is thought to be substantially determined by biological factors.
 What Is A Psychopath?
Typically, a psychopath
ignores the rights of others
highly egoistical / narcissistic
bold
disinhibited / impulsive / problems delaying gratification
 
– lacks empathy
 
– is callous, cold and unfeeling
 
– disregards the law (although many psychopaths never break the law)
 
– is prone to violence (though, again, many psychopaths are not)
 
– have little or no conscience / do not feel remorse or guilt
 
– do not fear punishment
 
The Study :
 
The study referred to in the first paragraph involved 150 participants (both male and female) residing in juvenile detention centers.
All of the participants were aged from 11-years-old to 17-years-old.
All the participants had been classified as :
callous
– unemotional
– extremely, behaviourally antisocial
– incipiently psychopathic
 adolescent psychopaths
What Did The Study Find?
Using more sensitive and sophisticated means of testing (especially with regard to examining personality traits) than is usually used to investigate psychopathy and psychopathic characteristics it was found that although, superficially, the young people appeared callous, unemotional and pre-psychopathic their actual diagnosis (according to the more accurate and appropriare tests used), in the main, was that they were :

severely depressed

– severely anxious

– in a state of high emotionality

(In other words, they were not psychopathic but suffering from intense emotional distress).

 

Implications Of Study :

Due to these findings, the researchers pointed out that young people displaying behavioural problems such as those in this study should not be unthinkingly labelled as incipient psychopaths, punished and stigmatized but, instead, be given appropriate support and treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and help controlling their intense and volatile emotions.

 

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childhood trauma control anger

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

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Childhood Trauma Leading To Addiction And Crime

childhood trauma, addiction and crime

We have seen in previous articles published on this site that, if we have experienced significant childhood trauma, we are at increased risk of becoming addicted to illegal drugs as a result in order to help dull our emotional pain / dissociate from our problems (this is not only because our lives our more likely to be stressful if we have experienced childhood trauma, but also because the experience of childhood trauma can damage the development of a part of the brain called the amygdala which, in turn, makes us more susceptible to, and less able to tolerate, the effects of stress).

childhood trauma addiction and crime

Unfortunately, too, if we become addicted to illegal drugs, we then become at increased risk of becoming involved in crime (over and above the crime of buying and taking illegal drugs). Below, I explain some of the main reasons why this is so :

Why Becoming Addicted To Illegal Drugs Puts Us At Risk Of Becoming Further Involved In Crime :

– some drugs can decrease inhibition, increase impulsivity and increase the propensity to become violent (though obviously not an illegal drug, this is especially true of alcohol – and the experience of childhood trauma also makes it more likely we will abuse alcohol for the same reasons that we may become addicted to illegal drugs)

– the desperate need to acquire money quickly to buy the drugs that feed the addiction

– buying illegal drugs brings the addict into contact with the criminal world which exposes him/her to the danger of becoming ‘sucked into’ a more general, criminal lifestyle.

The Development Of The Vicious Circle :

Not only does being an addict increase one’s risk of becoming involved in crime, but the reverse is also true : being involved in crime can increase one’s likelihood of becoming / remaining an addict. This is because the money that can be accumulated through criminal endeavours can be used to start a drug habit, maintain a drug habit, increase frequency of use of drug, increase dosage of drug per session, and allow the addict to buy a new types of drugs s/he couldn’t previously afford or to which s/he previously did not have access.

And, if s/he goes to prison due to crime, s/he is likely to encounter a thriving drug culture – indeed, many prisoners state that it is even easier to acquire drugs inside jail than it is outside.

The childhood trauma / addiction / crime association is more likely to affect males than females (eighty per cent of all crimes are committed by males). However, females are more likely to turn to prostitution in order to sustain their drug habit.

Resources :

Self hypnosis MP3 / CD : Overcome Addiction

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childhood trauma control anger

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

 

 

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How To Control Emotions

 

How to control emotions

We have seen that significant, protracted childhood trauma, particularly if it leads us to develop borderline personality disorder or complex post traumatic stress disorder, can result in us having extreme difficulty knowing how to control emotions, such as anger and anxiety, as adults : in psychological terms, we are at risk of developing emotional dysregulation.

Sometimes, intense emotions become so painful that, as a defense mechanism, we shut our these feelings down (we may do this deliberately by using alcohol and drugs, or it might happen automatically – in the latter case we are said to be dissociating).

REASONS SOME INDIVIDUALS KEEP THEIR EMOTIONS ‘BURIED.’

Some people try to keep their emotions ‘buried’ (suppressed). There can be a number of reasons for this, including:

– growing up in a household in which any display of emotions and feelings was considered a sign of weakness or ‘not the done thing’

– being in an occupation in which displays of emotions are not encouraged e.g.police, military

– fear of losing respect

– fear of losing control

THE PROBLEM OF SUPPRESSED FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS:

However, keeping feelings and emotions buried takes up large amounts of mental energy and means they tend to be kept simmering beneath the surface, building up pressure and ready to explode.

And, very often, the emotion of anger is the one that is nearest to the surface, and therefore the one that is most frequently experienced and expressed.

HOWEVER, anger very often conceals, and has its primary roots in, the fundamental emotions of FEAR and HURT.

So, in fact, very often, when we express anger, what we are really expressing is this fear and hurt; to put it concisely:


OUR FEAR AND HURT IS MASQUERADING AS ANGER.


 

Acknowledging Our True, Authentic Feelings And Having The Courage To Express Them:

It is therefore necessary to become aware of the real feelings behind our anger, feelings that are likely to be intensely painful and that we have preferred not to acknowledge (or even not allowed ourselves to become consciously aware of) and to start the process of expressing them, understanding their origins, working through them and resolving them (ideally with a highly trained, professional therapist).

By getting in touch with our feelings beneath our anger, and working through them therapeutically, we can reduce or overcome outbursts of rage, self-destructive behavior and bodily complaints such as fatigue.

If we do not get in touch with feelings such as hurt and fear (completely normal emotions that everyone experiences to one degree or another), but instead keep them ‘locked out’ and ‘buried’ , we pay the very high price of not being able to get in touch with, experience or express positive emotions, such as happiness and joy, too. Our aim is to feel comfortable with all our emotions and to channel them constructively.

How To Control Emotions :

In order to control our emotions we can apply certain skills, such as:

– learning to identify what we are feeling and linguistically label our emotions e.g. ‘anger’, ‘fear’ etc – when we verbally name our emotions and describe them in spoken (or, indeed, written) language we are more likely to be able to control them and are less likely to act them out.

– acknowledge and accept emotions nonjudgmentally (as taught through mindfulness).

– change our thinking. Our feelings are connected to our thinking processes – consider trying cognitive therapy which can help retrain our thinking style and which, in turn, can lead to much improved emotional experiences.


Links to resources relating to how to control emotions shown below:

Control Anger Pack (Download or CD). Click here.

How To Control Emotions(Download or CD). Click here.


 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

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Effects Of Authoritarian Parents

 childhood_trauma

What Are Authoritarian Parents?

Authoritarian parents are strict, endeavour to exercise strong control over their children, may use corporal punishment such as smacking, often raise their voices and shout at their offspring, and oppressively restrict their lives.

Whilst the way in which they punish their children is often unusually severe, they tend to compound the resulting ill effects by failing to explain to the child why s/he is being punished.

Furthermore, they often pay little regard to their children’s feelings and emotions.

Such parental behaviour may be relatively ‘well-meaning’ when they believe they are acting in their children’s ‘best interests’ – preparing them, as they see it, for an adult life in which they will need to be tough enough to cope with a ‘cruel, unforgiving, dog-eat-dog world’, rather like a sargent major preparing his troops for battle by enforcing a harsh training regime. In other words, the authoritarian parent’s rule of thumb may often be ‘it’s for your own good…’

However, such parental behaviour, even when well intentioned, can cause the child to develop numerous problems later on in adolescence and adulthood; I provide examples of these below:

1) The child may develop poor social skills.

This problem may arise as the child has grown up following his parents’ instructions in social situations rather than having been given the opportunity to learn through trial-and-error and on his/her own intiative. For example, as a child s/he may have been instructed only to speak to adults when spoken to, or to be ‘seen but not heard.’

authoritarian_parents

2a) Because of the way in which authoritarian parents may condition or ‘program’ their children, they (the children) may grow up to be :

  • highly conformist (i.e. acting in line with the prevailing views and attitudes of others, irrespective of whether it is right or wrong to do so)
  • unthinkingly obedient (making them vulnerable to exploitation)
  • excessively self-blaming (consciously or unconsciously inferring, erroneously, that they must be ‘intrinsically bad’ for having so frequently incurred such severe parental wrath).
  • more than averagely susceptible to depression

2b) However, the reverse may also occur (depending, in part, upon the child’s particular temperament), namely : the child may develop into an adolescent/young adult who is highly rebellious due to the anger and resentment s/he harbours against his/her parents for their excessively controlling behaviour. 

These individuals, too, may be highly self-blaming and self-critical and turn to drink/drugs in an attempt to reduce such painful emotions.

 

Effects On Conscience:

Research suggests that children who are harshly punished but are given no proper explanation as to why they are being punished (e.g. it is not explained to them that their behaviour has had a harmful effect on others) tend merely to learn not to get caught rather than to change their behaviour because it preys on their conscience.

In other words, they are less likely to develop a strong conscience and, if they choose to avoid doing wrong, this may be more due to reasons of expedience rather than of morality.

 

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

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Freeing Ourselves From Anger About Our Past.

let_go_of_anger

It is far from uncommon for those of us who have experienced a traumatic childhood to remain angry and resentful about the past, specifically, perhaps, about how our parents badly treated us. This can result in us bearing grudges and feeling bitter for years, decades, or even for a whole lifetime.

We have all heard the expression, ‘forgive and forget’, but how applicable is it to the kind of situation that I have just described?

Well, first of all, it is not possible to forget (unless, that is, we have unconsciously repressed the memories of what happened to us as a means of psychological defense).

But what about forgiveness? As we are all different, and as our past experiences are also all different, this boils down to a matter of personal choice. Notwithstanding this, many psychologists advocate forgiveness, not least because the act of forgiving is very likely to benefit us, and, of course, the flip side of this is that a decision NOT to forgive is liable to damage us.

let_go_of_past

How Does Remaining Angry Harm Us?

If we constantly brood about how we were wronged in the past this can be mentally exhausting and cause us to feel perpetually anguished, unhappy and unable to enjoy the present or look forward to the future.

It also gives more power to those who wronged us : not only have they hurt us in the past, but, by refusing to let go of what they did to us, we allow them to keep us unhappy, both now and in the future. To put it colloquially, we permit them to score a double whammy against us.

By staying angry, bitter and resentful we may perpetuate a self-destructive feeling of unresolved anger (which we may displace onto others, ruining our relationships); emotionally exhaust ourselves with constant feelings of animosity and, in some cases, hatred; get caught up in a futile mental cycle of revenge fantasies and of waiting for those who hurt us to make amends (which, sadly, often never happens).

Moving On:

Instead of inflicting this pointless mental suffering on ourselves, we have the option to take what lessons we can from our adverse experiences and move forward with our lives, perhaps even turning these adverse experiences to our own advantage, in as far as this may be possible.

The Bottom Line :

The bottom line is straight-forward :

Does holding on to anger, bitterness and resentment make our present lives, and future prospects, better or worse?

It is, of course, up to each individual to decide.

Resources:

LET IT GO : self-hypnosis downloadable MP3. Click here.

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Alice Miller: ‘Hitler’s Childhood Helped To Cause WW2’

 

Hitler's childhood

The Significance Of Hitler’s Childhood According To Alice Miller :

The Swiss psychoanalyst, Alice Miller, was of the view that most people repress their memories of childhood trauma and may be in such extreme denial about the way their parents mistreated them that they may actually, on a conscious level, idealize them rather than castigate them. This acts as a psychological defense mechanism : protecting the individual from the painful truth.

Nevertheless, Miller suggests, the unconscious rage they feel against their parents constantly fizzes beneath the surface looking for an outlet. This outlet takes the form of displacement (the redirecting of one’s rage onto innocent victims).

An exceptionally rare and extreme example of individuals who may act out this process of repression, denial and displacement is that of some serial killers. However, Miller provides an even more extreme example, that of the tyrant and fascist dictator, Adolf Hitler.

Hitler’s childhood was abusive ; indeed, Adolf Hitler, as a child, was severely physically abused by his father (Alois) who would regularly fly into uncontrollable rages and beat his son. Sometimes, Adolf Hitler’s mother would intervene in order to try to physically protect her son, only to be beaten by her husband herself as a consequence.

Hitler_as_child

  • Above: Adolf Hitler’s childhood was abusive

One effect of this on Adolf Hitler is that he began to bully his sister which took the form of hitting her, just as he was hit by his father.


‘The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler’s own home.’

– Florian Beierl


In modern day terms, then, Adolf Hitler’s family was highly dysfunctional, and this had a damaging psychological effect on him as evidenced not only by his bullying of his sister, but also by the fact that in his teens he became increasingly reclusive, resentful and emotionally unstable (particularly when interacting with his father).

According to Miller, Hitler’s terrible and horrific actions can be traced back to this dysfunctional childhood; according to Miller, his heinous actions as an adult were driven by a psychotic and deranged lust for ‘revenge on the world’ for his childhood suffering.

Miller also argues that many high ranking SS officers had also suffered abusive childhoods, as had other tyrants such as Mao and Stalin.

Miller’s ideas have been criticized for being overly simplistic, so she is something of a controversial figure.

 

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.  

 

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

 

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Early Signs Of Psychosis

 

early signs of psychosis

We have seen through other articles that I have published on this site that, all else being equal, those who experienced a chronically stressful and traumatic childhood are more likely to develop a psychotic condition during their adulthood than are their more fortunate contemporaries who experienced relatively stable childhoods.

However, usually a person does not suddenly become psychotic. Instead, the onset of psychosis is often a gradual process and sometimes individuals may start to show possible signs of incipient psychosis in their teens.

So what are the early warning signs? I provide a list based on the most current research in this area below. However, it is important to realize these symptoms are NOT specific to psychosis, they may also be due to numerous other conditions or set of personal psychosis. Anyone worried they or someone else may be psychotic or may be developing psychosis should seek an expert opinion and NOT attempt an amateur diagnosis based on the symptoms that follow.

early_signs_of_psychosis

Possible Early Signs That A Person May Be Becoming Psychotic:

These signs may be split into six categories as follows:

1) Cognitive symptoms

2) Neurotic symptoms

3) Changes in mood

4) Changes in volition

5) Behavioral symptoms

6) Physical symptoms

Let’s look at each of these six categories below:

Cognitive Symptoms:

– problems with concentration/attention/mental focus

– frequent daydreaming/ retreating into fantasy worlds

– thought blocking (a sudden lapse into silence during conversation due to the mind ‘going blank’. This most frequently occurs when the individual is asked about something that is, consciously or unconsciously, psychologically disturbing to him/her. It is a psychological defense mechanism and form of repression.)

– reduced ability to think in abstract terms

Neurotic Symptoms:

– restlessness/agitation

– anger

– irritability

Changes in Mood:

– guilt

– suicidal ideation

– depression

– mood swings

– anhedonia (an inability to derive pleasure from people, events or circumstances – a feeling of emptiness, flatness and numbness)

Change in Volition:

– loss of drive

– loss of interest in events, activities and people that used to interest one

– feelings of apathy and fatigue and a general lack of energy

Behavioural Symptoms:

– social withdrawal

– drop in standard of school/college work

– increase in impulsivity

– increasingly odd/strange behaviour

– aggression

– destructiveness

Physical Symptoms:

– weight loss

– poor appetite

– sleep problems

For more information on psychosis, including treatment options, I provide the following very informative and helpful link:

NHS: Information About Psychosis

 

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

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Why We May Severely Over-react To Minor Stressors.

Over react stress

We have seen from previous articles that I have posted on this site that, if we suffered chronic stress during our childhood, our ability to deal with stress as adults can be drastically diminished, making it difficult to cope with the daily stressors that others may easily be able to take in their stride.

We may, for example, become disproportionately enraged if we temporarily misplace our keys, inadvertently snap a shoe-lace, or are thwarted in our vehicular progress down the street by a succession of obstinately and infuriatingly red traffic lights.

The reason for such overreactions can lie in the fact that our chronically stressful childhoods have disrupted the process in the brain associated with the production of stress hormones.

In particular, levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol may have become chronically too high.

It follows that, when we experience a minor stressor, too much adrenaline and cortisol are released. Let’s look at the effect that these two stress hormones have upon the body:

1) The Effect Of Adrenaline On The Body:

– causes heart rate to increase

– causes blood pressure to go up

– causes breathing rate to become more rapid (sometimes leading hyperventilation, a distressing reaction associated with panic).

2) The Effect Of Cortisol On The Body:

– transports energy to muscles by diverting it from areas of the body where it is not immediately needed (such as the stomach).

So, the effects of adrenaline and cortisol combined are to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight’, as if we were being threatened by a ravenously hungry tiger (when, in fact, we are just stuck in traffic or have mislaid our keys etc). In such a case, energy builds up in the body which is not dissipated, causing great tension.

 

Why do people overreact?

Above: Over-reacting to minor stressors can be caused by chemical/hormonal inbalances resulting from a chronically stressful childhood.

In order to attempt to free ourselves from this unpleasant feeling of tension, we may try to partly dissipate it by shouting obscenities or pounding our fists against some wholly innocent inanimate object (this is sometimes referred to by psychologists as a displacement activity).

In other words:

We are responding to minor stressors as if they posed severe, even life-threatening, danger. Our brain is preparing us for fight or flight because it has grossly overestimated the risk the minor stressor poses to us. It is ‘fooled’ into making this error due to the disruption of the body’s system that produces adrenalin and cortisol caused by our chronically stressful childhood.

And, following the same logic, when we’re unfortunate enough to experience major stressful events in our adult lives, we may find ourselves going into nuclear meltdown, utterly overwhelmed and unable to cope.

eBook:

brain damage caused by childhood trauma.  depression and anxiety

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MP3/CD

Reduce everyday stress.      Reduce Everyday Stress. Click here for further information.

 

 

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

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery