Category Archives: Anger And Violence

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.

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

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Holding On To Chronic Anger Can Harm Us.

chronic_anger

I remained angry at my parents for a very long time indeed. I would repress it for lengthy periods, but it was always lying dormant, waiting for a trigger that would cause it to erupt. My outbursts of rage,therefore, were intermittent, and would tend to occur at times and of exceptionally intense stress or when they behaved in a rejecting way that resonated too painfully with my memories of how they rejected and discarded me in my youth.

Being chronically angry, apart from anything else, is a very destructive and emotionally distressing frame of mind to endure – it is also highly mentally enervating  and exhausting, sapping one’s energy and, often, too, spoiling one’s quality of sleep. These effects can combine to lead to a state of constant exhaustion.

Many people who were mistreated by their parents as children harbour anger, hostility and resentment towards them for years or decades. Some hold on to these destructive feelings even after their parents are dead; indeed, not only may these feelings not abate once their parents are dead, they may even intensify. This may give rise to feelings of guilt and shame, too, about not being able to free themselves from their anger.

Anger

As I’ve already suggested above, such deep rooted and pervasive anger often impacts on many areas of the angry person’s life in very harmful ways. I provide examples of how this may happen below:

– displacement of anger onto innocent victims when anger is not being directed at the parents. This may lead, frequently, to getting into conflict with other relatives, friends, work colleagues, service providers etc. and always seeing the worst in people. Often, the angry person will not be consciously aware that the anger s/he is expressing is displaced anger.

– quick to condemn those one perceives as having done something wrong/immoral and to then dismiss them as a ‘terrible person’

– gain a reputation for being an angry, judgmental, censorious and unforgiving person, even when this isn’t the ‘real you’

– loss of capacity to experience joy or pleasure in life

– a proneness to express moral outrage

– a marked tendency to be critical about everyone and everything

– strong need to feel morally superior in relation to others

– development of a ‘me against the world’ approach to life

– feelings of hatred for others easily triggered

– general misanthropic attitude towards world

– fantasies of revenge

– regard self us utterly innocent victim, persecuted relentlessly by moral inferiors and idiots

– perpetual demeanor of resentment and bitterness which alienates others

– regard self as ‘judge and jury’ when it comes to assessing moral character of others and as omniscient and infallible in one’s ‘god-like’ judgments

Resources:

Useful link about dealing with anger. Click here.

MP3

hypnotherapy_anger

Advanced self- Hypnosis audio MP3 – click here for more details

 

eBook:

anger management

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

 

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Jailed Parents: Effects On The Child

childhood_trauma

Whilst neither of my parents were ever imprisoned, when I was about ten or eleven years old, after my parents had got divorced, my mother’s mentally ill, alcoholic, live – in – lover was frequently in and out of jail (primarily Brixton and Pentonville in London, if memory serves).

Despite his criminal inclinations, he always treated me well – except, that is, for driving me about in his (stolen) cars whilst very drunk indeed ( him, not me). Why my mother allowed this to happen is unclear as she surely must have known, or, at the very least, have suspected, what was going on, would she not?

Because of the emotional bond I developed with this less than entirely responsible man (he seemed to like me a lot more than my parents or brother did), I found the unpredictability of his presence somewhat distressing. Sometimes, too, a police car would station itself outside our house, waiting for his return so they could arrest him, I presume; I never asked – but the presence of these police vehicles was,to a child, unsettling, disconcerting and vaguely menacing.

 

Because of such experiences, I was intrigued to find out what the current research had to say about the possible effects upon child of having an incarcerated parent or primary caregiver.

effects_of_jailed_parent_on_child

Whilst more research needs to be undertaken in connection with the question of the effects of parental imprisonment on the child (because, for example, some of the studies so far undertaken have been on a relatively low scale), evidence so far collected suggests the following effects may be experienced by children as a result of having a parent jailed:

Possible Effects On The Child Of Having A Parent Jailed:

– disruption in the development of the child-parent relationship

– poverty (due to loss of the parental income)

– social stigmatization

– reduced care

– reduced supervision

– development of mental health / behavioural problems, including anxiety, depression, regressive behaviour, aggression, running away, withdrawal, ‘clingy’ behaviour, eating disorders, poor school performance, sleep problems, hyperactivity and delinquency (Murray).

There also exists some evidence that girls may be more adversely affected by parental incarceration than boys and that having a mother jailed is more damaging than having a father jailed.

Finally, it should be pointed out, that, if the jailed parent was abusive, his/her imprisonment could actually benefit the child.

However, as I stated at the beginning of this article, more research in this area needs to be conducted.

Resources :

Children Of Incarcerated Parents (Youth.gov) : Click here.

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

 

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

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).

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Characteristics Of Perpetrators Of Domestic Violence.

 

We have seen in other articles that I have published on this site that children who grow up in households in which domestic violence is prevalent (eg. growing up in a household in which the father regularly beats the mother) are put at high risk of developing significant emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Indeed, without therapy, it is possible for the adverse effects on the child of having witnessed domestic violence to last well into adulthood and to significantly diminish his/her quality of life (click here to read one of my articles about the effects of domestic violence on children).

domestic_violence

According to the Minnonite Domestic Violence Task Force (Lehman,1996), perpetrators of domestic violence frequently exhibit the following characteristics:

Characteristics Of Perpetrators Of Domestic Violence:

– the man has a very possessive attitude towards the woman, as if he ‘owns’ her and she is his ‘property’; also, he is prone to exhibit extreme jealousy

– he blames others for his faults, deflecting blame from himself

– he attributes his problems to his circumstances (as above, this strategy serves to deflect blame from himself)

– he is very prone to unpredictable behaviour

– he verbally derides and belittles his partner; he is also prone to telling her she’s ‘crazy’ in order to discredit her and to undermine her confidence in the truth of her a own views (this is sometimes referred to as ‘gaslighting’ which you can read about in one of my articles by clicking here)

– perpetually pleads for ‘another/final chance’

– perpetually promises ‘to change’

– may have been abused as a child or witnessed domestic abuse in his own childhood home (eg. his mother being beaten by his father)

– plays on his partner’s guilt (eg. by blaming his behaviour on her/ claiming provocation)

– liable to abusing alcohol and drugs that cause his behaviour to become worse still

– can only see things from his own perspective / closed minded

– may appear charming and gentle to outsiders

– misogynistic

– he may abuse his own children

– refuses treatment, or, if he agrees to it, may ‘play games’ with the therapist.

Resource:

HopeLine – support for those experiencing domestic violence.

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

 

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

‘Acting Out’ And Childhood Trauma

Young people who express their psychological turmoil by directing their negative feelings OUTWARD onto the environment (eg vandalism) or other people (eg violence) are performing what psychologists term externalising behaviours. This is also known as, more colloquially, ‘ACTING OUT.’

These behaviours are in contrast to internalising behaviours such as anxiety and depression by which young people may turn their negative feelings inwards into themselves. However, it is important to point out that the two types (externalized behaviour and internalized behaviour) very often co-exist within the same person; for example, a teenager who is very depressed may also be sometimes aggressive and violent (indeed, it is certainly worth noting here that both clinical depression and violence are linked to low levels in the brain of the neurotransmitter serotonin).

But let’s return to look specifically at acting out/externalising behaviours:

acting out

Externalizing behaviours can be split into three groups. These are:

1) Aggression/Violence

2) Anti-Social Behaviour  (Non-Violent)

3) Hyperavtivity

Let’s look at each of these three categories in turn:

1) Aggression/Violence:

These may take the form of both verbal and physical behaviour (at the most extreme end of the spectrum it may even involve the use of weapons).

This type of externalizing behaviour is more likely to occur in boys.

Furthermore, whilst boys are more likely to employ the use of physical aggression, girls are more likely to make use of what is known as ‘relational’ aggression (Hadlet, 2003), such as excluding another girl, in a spiteful manner calculated to cause emotional harm, from their social group.

Feschbach, 1970, further proposed that aggression could also be divided into two other types : HOSTILE AGGRESSION and INSTRUMENTAL AGGRESSION. Let’s briefly look at what he meant by each of these:

HOSTILE AGGRESSION:

This refers to hot-bloodied, spontaneous, impulsive, reactive AGGRESSION involving loss of control of powerful and intense emotions. The aggressor tends not to benefit from this type of aggression and often, in fact, makes matters worse for him/herself (it is not coldly calculated aggression).

INSTRUMENTAL AGGRESSION:

This refers to cold-bloodied, calculated, manipulative aggession by the use of which the aggressor hopes/plans to derive personal benefit.

What Are The Causes Of Such Aggressive/Violent Externalizing Behaviours In Young People?

Causes are both genetic and environmental. They include:

-modelling (learned behaviour)

– abuse

– neglect

– being bullied at school

– hormonal influence

– an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters (eg. serotonin – see above).

Young people who display a significant level of aggression and violence are at higher risk than average of gaining criminal convictions as adults.

2) Anti-Social Behaviour (Non-Violent):

This may involve stealing/theft, vandalism, pathological lying, excessive use of drugs/alcohol. As in the case of aggressive/violent behaviour (see above) boys are more prone to this particular form of externalised behaviour than are girls.

What Are The Causes Of Such Anti-Social Externalizing Behaviours In Young People?

Again, causes can be both environmental and genetic. They include modelling/learned behaviour, ethnic conflict (Feschbach, 1998), abuse, neglect and genetic inheritance.

As in the case of aggressive and violent behaviour, young people who exhibit non-violent, anti – social behaviours are more likely to acquire criminal convictions as adults.

Research suggests that young people displaying high levels of anti-social behaviour may benefit from Empathy Training (Fascenbach, 1982) in school with the aim of encouraging their pro-social behaviour and improving their self-image (many young people who frequently behave anti-socially have low levels of self-esteem).

3) Hyperactivity:

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may:

a) be hyperactive eg. restless, impulsive

b) have a poor attention span eg. easily distractable, poor powers of concentration

c) have symptoms of both of the above

As is the case with aggression/violence and anti-social behaviour, boys are more likely to suffer from this condition than are girls.

Young people who suffer from hyperactivity, like young people who display excessive aggression and anti-social behaviour are more likely to be convicted of criminal activities as adults.

What Are The Possible Causes Of Hyperactivity?

Causes of this condition are not fully understood but research suggests genetics, brain structure and disruptions of brain functionality are involved.

A Note On Possible Future Development Of Anti-Social Personality Disorder:

Lynam et. al., 1988, carried out research which suggested that young people who demonstrate a combination of :

– hyperactivity

– conduct problems

– attention deficitsdeficits

and

– high levels of impulsivity

are at especially increased risk of developing Anti-Social Personality Disorder (this used to be called ‘psychopathy’) as adults.

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

Other Resources:

Anger Management Hypnosis. Downloadable MP3. Click here.

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

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Characteristics Of Abusive Mothers

 

It may come as a surprise to many, but, in the case of young children, mothers are more likely to physically abuse them than are fathers. This, of course, is partly due to the fact that mothers usually spend more time with young children than do fathers, which, in turn, means she is more likely than the father to experience child behaviours that, for whatever reason, frustrate and anger her.

Research has shown that abusive mothers are more likely to be isolated than are non-abusive mothers, with low levels of support from her family and from wider society and her community.

Due to this lack of support, she may turn to her own child for emotional sustenance (as was the case with my own mother when I was very young ; I would ‘counsel’ her and she sometimes referred to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’, as I have written about elsewhere. I repeat myself only to benefit visitors who are new to this site). Such mothers who use their children in this manner are said to ‘parentify’ them. (I have already published articles on ‘parentification‘ and its adverse effects upon the child).

Of course, it is impossible for a young child to perform this role completely adequately as s/he lacks the requisite emotional maturity and life experience.

Very sadly, this, in turn, can frustrate the mother to a degree that she becomes abusive (my own mother became so hostile towards me that I was forced to go and live with my father and step-mother when I was just thirteen years old. Again, I have written about this elsewhere and include the information again only for the reasons given above).

 

Other Common Characteristics Of Abusive Mothers:

– low self-esteemimages

– prone to depression

– frequent withdrawal from the child and prone to be ‘passive-aggressive’ (eg to subject their children to a sulky and brooding type of ‘silent treatment’. I have already published an article on the so-called ‘silent treatment‘.

– frequently uses outbursts of anger/rage to control their children

– shows children little affection (I cannot remember my own mother ever having hugged me – it felt rather like having a contagious disease; a highly infectious and potentially fatal one, at that).

– tends to have a low intellectual capacity which can mean she has a poor ability to reason with her children and to understand them

– tend to maximize their children’s perceived ‘faults’ but also to minimize/ignore their positive qualities

– rather than speak about the child’s possible ‘bad behaviour’ (as she perceives/judges it), she is likely to extrapolate from such behaviour (wrongly and unfairly) and call her child a ‘bad person.’

– tends to have a low frustration threshold and to be intensely over-sensitive to small annoyances young children may cause (my own mother could become apoplectic with rage if I inadvertently spilt a few grains of sugar in the course of making her a cup of coffee).

Possible Effects On Children Of The Abusive Mother:

Female children tend to internalize the adverse effects of an abusive mother’s behaviour towards them, and, as such, may :

– develop poor self-esteem

– develop poor social skills

– become prone to depression and anxiety

Male children, on the other hand, may both internalize and externalize the harmful effects of their mother’s treatment of them. As a result, they may:

– bully others

– be cruel to animals

– become physically aggressive/get into fist fights at school etc.

– indulge in vandalism

– indulge in stealing

– become prone to dishonesty (eg in an attempt to cover up anti-social behaviours)

– start associating with other children who may be regarded by some as a ‘bad crowd,’.

– develop poor social skills

– start to ‘play truant’ from school/ skip lessons

Of course, effects upon the child of having an abusive mother will vary according to the child’s genetic make-up and other aspects of his/her life (eg the effects of abuse may be reduced if the child has strong support from responsible others (eg school counsellors). Also, effects will vary, obviously, according to the level and duration of the abuse, together with the age of the child who is being subjected to the abuse.

Resources :

EBook:

 

Now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here.

Hypnotherapy Audio also available for instant download : Improve Relationship With Mother. Click here.

 

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

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Were You Ignored As A Child?

 

After my mother threw me out of her house when I was thirteen, I had no choice but to move in with my father and his new wife (and therefore now my stepmother). My father behaved in such a distant manner towards me that he may as well have been inhabiting a different galaxy, several billion light years away. And a particularly cold, unwelcoming and inhospitable one.

As for my stepmother, she constantly smothered her own son (from a previous relationship),who also lived in the house, with love, adoration and attention and general worship,whilst almost completely ignoring me as if in an attempt to eradicate the fact of my  distasteful and deeply resented existence from her mind.

At dinner in the evenings I neither spoke nor was spoken to. In the mornings, after my father had left for work, my stepmother and her son breakfasted together whilst I ate mine alone.

I felt like I was some kind of virus – my father and stepmother seemed to wish to avoid any contact with me, lest they become contaminated.

So what are the possible effects on children who are ignored by their parents? I outline the main ones below:

The Possible Effects On Children Of Being Ignored By Their Parents:

– ignoring a child is a form of emotional abuse that can have severe, adverse consequences for the child. These consequences may not just cause him/her problems during his/her childhood, but for the rest of his/her life if effective therapy is not undertaken.

download (1)– 

– being ignored seiously damages the child’s sense of self-worth and value as an individual; s/he is likely to start to see him/herself as utterly undeserving of love, attention and affection. In short, s/he is likely to start to view him/herself as intrinsically unlovable

– it is also likely to create problems forming friendships and romantic partnerships due to the very low sense of self-worth outlined immediately above. As a child I thought I was the least interesting and least likeable person alive on the entire planet.

– being ignored profoundly hurts and this hurt, in young people, very often may express itself through anger, rages, tantrums, aggression and physical violence (my stepmother was fond of reminding me I once knocked a coffee cup out of her hand when I was fourteen. I have no memory of this, but it may well be true) – all of which are ‘acting out’ behaviours (the child does not have the verbal dexterity to articulate his complex and painful inner feelings and emotions. Some children may develop Oppositional Defiance Disorder).

download (1) 

Above :  The pain children feel from being ignored will often be expressed as anger, hostility and rage.

– increased likelihood of making excessive use of drugs and alcohol in attempt to reduce intolerable mental anguish

 

Because being ignored as a child will very often lead to us having a distorted and unrealistically negative view of ourselves as adults, cognitive behavioural therapy can be an effective way of correcting our faulty self-perception.

Resources:

Were You An Unloved Child? Clinical hypnotherapy MP3, available for instant download: click here.

 

EBook:

Above eBook available from Amazon for instant download.  Click here.

 

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery