Category Archives: Anger And Violence

90℅ Of Young Offenders Have Experienced Trauma.

90℅ Of Young Offenders Have Experienced Trauma.

Ninety percent cent of young people caught up in the youth justice system have experienced significant childhood trauma.

Furthermore, 70℅ have a mental health disorder and 30% fulfil the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD.

Also, they are far more likely than average to have problems associated with drugs and alcohol and be low academic achievers.

A study conducted by Dierkhising and colleagues (2013), published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, also revealed that :

– the traumatic experiences that the young offenders suffered most often had their onset between birth and 5 years of age (this was the case in 62℅ of the young offenders who took part in the study).

– 33℅ had experienced trauma in each and every year of their adolescence

– the average number of different types of traumatic events the young offenders had suffered was 4.9.

What Kind Of Traumatic Experiences Have Young Offenders Most Frequently Suffered?

Dierkhising’s study showed that the main traumas the young offenders had experienced were :

1) Loss and bereavement (traumatic loss, separation from caregiver, bereavement)

61.2℅

2) Impaired caregiver

51.7℅

3) Domestic violence

51.6%

4) Emotional abuse/psychological maltreatment

49.4℅

5) Physical maltreatment/abuse

38.6%

6) Community violence

34%

The graph below reflects the full results of the study and shows what percentage of young offenders in the study had suffered each of the traumas shown along the horizontal axis of the graph:

90℅ Of Young Offenders Have Experienced Trauma.

 

Problem behaviours:

The study found that 66.1% of the young offenders externalised their problems (ie their negative, problematic behaviours were directed outside the self – eg towards other people, animals, property etc).

Rule breaking and aggression were found to be the most frequent ways the young offenders in the study externalised their problems.

The study also found that 45.5℅ of the young offenders in the study internalized their problems (ie their negative, problematic behaviours were directed inward against the self). This process of internalisation most frequently resulted in:

– depression

– withdrawal

– anxiety

– thought disturbances

 

Implications of the study:

Identifying any history of traumatic experience that young offenders may have suffered, together with treating the effects of any such trauma, should be an absolute priority when young people come into contact with the criminal youth system.

90℅ Of Young Offenders Have Experienced Trauma.

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Other Resources:

Manage Your Anger downloadable hypnosis MP3 pack :

Click here for further details.

 

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

 

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Chronic Resentment (And How To Channel Anger Positively).

Chronic Resentment (And How To Channel Anger Positively).

Violence in movies and on the small screen is, in case you hadn’t noticed, ubiquitous. Indeed, violent films can gross several hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. Why are such films so popular? One theory is that they, vicariously and, therefore, innocuously, allow viewers to express their own suppressed anger and violent impulses in the form of shootings, stabbings, garrotting, strangling, poisoning, torturing (think Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Taxi Driver etc) – the list goes on ad infinitum.

It is suggested that many individuals feel a sense of release by viewing such material – the classic ‘letting off of steam’, helping them to keep their own aggressive impulses under control. (There is also the opposing argument, of course, namely that watching violence desensitises people to it and, thus, makes them more likely to perpetrate acts of violence themselves).

THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF SUPPRESSED ANGER:

Many who have suffered significant childhood trauma have suppressed anger  directed at a parent or parents (or primary carer/s). Such anger that has no outlet can turn inwards and become directed at the self, leading, often, to depression and/or physical (psychosomatic) illness (such as migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension etc).

BENEFIT OF ‘LETTING GO’ OF ANGER:

‘Letting go’ of anger can help us recover from these damaging effects. Indeed, one study that involved training individuals to let go of their anger found that it led to a significant drop in their blood pressure.

Another study indicated that chronic feelings of intense, unremitting anger and resentment are linked in some individuals to premature death.

Chronic Resentment (And How To Channel Anger Positively).

 

CHANNELLING ANGER POSITIVELY:

Suppose, for example, we belong to a particular sport’s club and are angry with the manager for not selecting us for the 1st team. Rather than, say, going up and punching him (which is likely to prove somewhat counter-productive) we can channel ( or sublimate, as Freud would put it) the energy provided by our anger into training especially hard, thus securing that elusive place in the team after all.

Or, say our boss at work undervalues our talent ; rather than confront him and tell him he’s an idiot who should be immediately sacked (again, this could prove less than fruitful), we may channel the energy we can derive from our anger into excelling in our job to such a degree that we eventually eclipse our boss’s work-related achievements and become his boss, thus satisfyingly putting him in his place.

Indeed, it is almost a cliché to point out that many high achievers have been motivated by the fact that one or both parents constantly belittled, denigrated and derided them as they grew up. Their achievements, in their eyes, constitute a kind of revenge. (This can, however, be psychologically unhealthy, if, for example, it turns one into an obsessive, neurotic workaholic who can never be satisfied by his accomplishments because, what he really seeks, on an unconscious level, is his parents’ approval).

RELINQUISHING ANGER :

Chronic Resentment (And How To Channel Anger Positively).

 

Being angry is a psychologically tormenting state which frequently harms the person harbouring the anger more than anybody else ; relinquishing it allows us to experience some emotional peace and solace and is very likely to lead to a significant improvement in both our mental and physical health.

By giving up our anger towards a particular person also serves to deprive that person of any further power and control over how we feel – we no longer allow them to damage our mental equilibrium and become free.

Resources:

Manage Your Anger downloadable hypnosis pack. Click here.

Ebook:

Chronic Resentment (And How To Channel Anger Positively).

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

 

 

 

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Feel Permanently, Emotionally Numb? The Possible Roots In Childhood Trauma.

Feel Permanently, Emotionally Numb? The Possible Roots In Childhood Trauma.

Emotional numbness is a coping mechanism that can be necessary to psychologically protect us when traumatic events are occurring. However, emotional numbness becomes a problem if it persists after the traumatic events are over meaning that it no longer serves any useful purpose.

For example, emotional numbness may have helped us survive adverse childhood experiences. However, if it carries on into adulthood and is no longer needed to protect us, its effects become negative.

Feel Permanently, Emotionally Numb? The Possible Roots In Childhood Trauma.

PTSD and CPTSD:

Emotional numbness protects us from experiencing overwhelming psychological pain. It does not just manifest itself in those who had very difficult childhoods, but it can also affect people who have experienced any kind of significant trauma. Indeed, emotional numbing is frequently a main symptom of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) : click here to read my article on the difference between these two conditions.

Psychological defence mechanism:

If, during childhood, we suffered significant trauma we may have spent a lot of time feeling threatened and very frightened. As an unconscious response to this, we may have ‘switched off’ our feelings as a psychological defence mechanism against such mental distress.

Anger hiding vulnerability:

It is not unusual for individuals who shut down their emotions in childhood to develop into adults who hide their deep sense of vulnerability (stemming from their childhoods) by becoming excessively angry whenever they feel threatened. In this way, the excessive anger may often be masking the person’s underlying feelings of powerlessness and fear.

In other words, such individuals may become angry with others when these others behave in ways that remind them (usually on an unconscious level) of how they were profoundly hurt as children in a desperate attempt to prevent themselves being hurt in a similar fashion again.

In this way, the anger such individuals express as adults (particularly when it seems to be highly disproportionate to the provocation), may frequently be not so much a reaction to current events but, rather, a reaction to how these current events remind them of traumatic childhood events.

For example, when I was about twenty I had an argument with a friend who reacted by demanding that I ‘get out of [his] house!’ Before I knew it, I had punched him (which surprised me as much as it surprised him).

It was only in retrospect that it occurred to me that his words had triggered a memory of what happened to me when I was thirteen, namely my mother throwing me out of her house (permamently) so that I was obliged to move in with my father a step- mother (who, it must be said. did not want me there either).

Damaging long-term effects:

But back to emotional numbness – whilst it has, relatively speaking, short-term survival value (it prevents us from being psychologically destroyed by our childhood, traumatic experiences), repressing our feelings can have seriously adverse effects in the long-term.

For example, our repressed psychological pain may express itself somatically (ie by harming the body) in the form of, for example, ulcers, headaches and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

Also, repressing emotions requires considerable effort; this can lead to deep and chronic exhaustion (for a long period of my life, I was having to go to bed at three o’clock in the afternoon and would get up about eight o’clock the next day – this equates to seventeen hours in bed out of every twenty-four. However, because of my extreme insomnia, only a small fraction of that time would be spent asleep; even then, the sleep was shallow and full of terrible nightmares so I certainly did not get up feeling properly rested).

Feel Permanently, Emotionally Numb? The Possible Roots In Childhood Trauma.

Anhedonia:

Shutting down our feelings helps dampen down negative feelings, but also dampens down positive feelings, leading us to experience a kind of emotional deadness and anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure – click here to read my article on this).

In order to try to counteract such emotional deadness, sufferers may desperately try to gain at least some form of ‘positive’ stimulation but find, in order to do so, that they must undertake extreme and risky activities which may include:

– excessive drinking

– excessive smoking

– taking powerful street drugs

– unsafe and promiscuous sex

– excessive gambling (click here to read my own experience of this)

– dangerous driving

– excessive spending

Resources:

Overcome Fear Of Emotions hypnosis download. Click here for more information.

 

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

 

 

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Brains Of Children Exposed To Domestic Violence Affected In Similar Way To Exposure To Combat

Brains Of Children Exposed To Domestic Violence Affected In Similar Way To Exposure To Combat

A study carried out at University College London (UCL) has found that when a child is continually exposed to domestic violence, such as the father regularly beating the mother, their brains are negatively affected in a similar way to how the brains of soldiers are affected by exposure to combat in war.

As a result, the children’s brains may become HYPERSENSITIVE TO PERCEIVED THREAT, or, to put it informally, ‘stuck on red alert.’  This, in turn, may lead to the child becoming trapped in a distressing state of hyper-vigilance and extreme wariness/distrust of others.

Brains Of Children Exposed To Domestic Violence Affected In Similar Way To Exposure To Combat

The research study which discovered this entailed children being shown pictures of angry/threatening faces whilst undergoing a brain scan and from this it was found that their emotional response to these faces was far more intense than was the emotional response of another group of children who were from stable backgrounds (known as the ‘control group’) who underwent the same procedure.

Specifically, the brain scans revealed that the children who had been exposed to domestic violence showed unusually high activity levels in two parts of the brain when shown the pictures of the angry/threatening faces, namely:

1) The anterior insula

2) The amygdala

compared to the children shown exactly the same pictures but whom had had a stable, loving and protected childhood.

Brains Of Children Exposed To Domestic Violence Affected In Similar Way To Exposure To Combat

Similarity to effect of exposure to combat on the brain:

Such increased activity in these two brain regions has also been found to occur, from previous research, in the brains of soldiers who have experienced protracted exposure to armed conflict.

Short-term benefits but long-term losses:

One of the psychological researchers involved in the UCL study pointed out that this changed brain activity may be helpful to children who live in homes where there is domestic violence in the short-term by helping them to avoid danger.

However, in the long-term, the changes may cause the individual severe problems – for example, as an adult the individual may constantly overestimate the degree of danger that other people present to him/ her. In turn, this may lead that same individual to be prone to becoming disproportionately aggressive towards those s/he perceives to be a threat to him/her.

The individual, too, may perceive threats where they, in reality, do not exist due to his/ her constant wariness of others together with a pervasive sense of paranoia.

Resilience:

The researchers involved in this study also drew our attention to the fact that not all children who are exposed to domestic violence develop the kind of mental disturbance described above and that more research needs to be conducted in order to ascertain which factors contribute to this resilience.

Anxiety and depression:

Research also shows that children exposed to domestic violence are at significantly increased risk of developing anxiety and depression (click here to read my article on this); indeed, both the anterior insula and the amygdala play a prominent role in the generation of anxiety disorders.

Brains Of Children Exposed To Domestic Violence Affected In Similar Way To Exposure To Combat

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here.

(Other titles available).

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

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Anger And ‘Thinking Errors’ (Cognitive Distortions).

Anger And 'Thinking Errors' (Cognitive Distortions).

I have already written several articles which have been published on this site about how certain types of childhood trauma can make it more likely we will develop difficulties with controlling our anger as adults (click here to read one of these articles), or, worse, may lead to us developing psychiatric conditions such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (click here to read my article on this).

In this article, however, I want to specifically examine how ‘erors in thinking’ can cause us to experience excessive and counterproductive feelings of anger:

 

Thinking errors (sometimes referred to as COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS) we may make that can cause us problems managing our anger as adults:

1)  Jumping to conclusions:

Psychologists also refer to this as ‘mind-reading’ (though this is not meant literally). It means that we may be prone to drawing definite conclusions about what’s motivating another individual based on flimsy evidence. An example might be:

‘I just know that person is deliberately trying to irritate me’

when, in fact, if we were to be more objective, we’d see there was little evidence that the person was , in fact, deliberately trying to do this.

2) Catastrophizing:

This involves exaggerating in our own minds how serious the consequences of something that has gone wrong actually are. People who tend to think in terms of extremes (sometimes referred to as ‘black or white’ thinkers) are particularly likely to do this (ie ‘catastrophize’).

For example, we may tell ourselves that a person ‘has ruined’ our ‘life forever’ and thus become extremely angry whereas a more objective judgement might be that the person has caused us a temporary and quite easily surmountable set-back.

Anger And 'Thinking Errors' (Cognitive Distortions).

3) Selective attention/perception:

This involves disproportionately focusing on negatives. For example, we may become very angry with a person by focusing solely on what s/he has done to upset us whilst ignoring the person’s good intentions/motivation and/or all the positive things the person has done for us.

4) Using Emotive Language :

This refers to when we think or speak about a person using exaggerated and emotive language. For example, we might tell ourselves a person is ‘evil’ whereas a more sober assessment of the person we’ve deemed to have wronged us clearly would not warrant such a melodramatic judgment. Therefore, the anger we display towards the person may be as disproportionate as the language we use to describe him/her.

5) Over- generalisation :

This involves seeing a person as always behaving in ways that upset us when, in fact, for example, s/he may only occasionally upsets us with his/her behaviour. A common expression which reflects such over -generalisation is :

‘You never think about anyone but yourself!’

when, in fact, if we gave the matter more thought, we would be able to think of plenty of evidence which contradicted this.

Conclusion:

All of the above then, can make us feel more intensely angry than would be objectively warranted. To put it in a very colloquial way, the above represent examples of how we can fall into a trap of unnecessarily ‘winding ourselves up’. 

Anger And 'Thinking Errors' (Cognitive Distortions).

It is in our own interests to avoid making these errors as anger is so often destructive and counterproductive. Also, being constantly angry is a very painful state of mind which is emotionally exhausting and a waste of energy; energy that could be channelled in far more constructive directions.

Research has shown that a very effective way of treating these types of ‘thinking errors’ is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Click here to read one of my articles on this.

 

Resources:

Control Anger audio download. Click here.

 

EBook:

Anger And 'Thinking Errors' (Cognitive Distortions).

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

 

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

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Rebelliousness: Its Link to Childhood Trauma

Rebelliousness: Its Link to Childhood Trauma

Rebellious behaviour in teenage years is, of course, normal. However, for those who grow up in a household in which they are abused ( physically, sexually or emotionally) their level of rebelliousness may be particularly severe.

Types of rebellious behaviour are varied, but may include:

– vandalism
– aggressive behaviour (both verbal and physical, including getting into fights. Especially likely to occur if parents are aggressive/violent).
– shop-lifting and other forms of petty theft
– stealing cars and joyriding
– bullying of others (especially if humiliated or beaten at home)
– starting to smoke and drink at an unusually young age
– starting fires (eg in litterbins)
– drug use
– truanting from school or dropping out of school altogether
– neglect of schoolwork/academic underachievement
– teenage pregnancy

Rebellious children displaying the kinds of symptoms listed above will often gravitate socially towards similar children who are themselves likely to have problems at home (the so-called ‘getting in with the wrong crowd’). In this way, these children may form gangs which not infrequently come into conflict with the law.

Rebelliousness: Its Link to Childhood Trauma

Such children often also have low sdlf-esteem (which they may attempt to mask with bravado), behave in self-sabotaging ways and suffer from both anxiety and depression.

It is likely that their parents have emotionally distanced themselves from the psychological harm they are inflicting upon their children but are instead focused on exercising power and control over them, rather than nurturing them and fulfilling their emotional and psychological individual needs.

Because of this dysfunctional parenting, the child is also likely to develop low expectations of life, thus becoming devoid of ambition, feeling helpless and that there is no hope which, in turn, can cause a complete lack of motivation to try to improve his/her situation. The child’s attitude may well become: ‘there’s no point in trying to improve life as whatever I do will make no difference.’ Psychologists refer to this as learned helplessness (click here to read my article on this).

When these children become adults, they often develop difficulties both forming and maintaining relationships (click here to read my article on this), and, in some cases, find that they, too, have difficulties parenting their own children. This, however, will by no means inevitably be the case.

Resources:

Living With Rebellious Teenagers (download): CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

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

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Alice Miller: The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Later Violent Behaviour

Alice Miller: The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Later Violent Behaviour

World renowned expert in child psychology, Alice Miller, drew strong attention to the fact that emotional and psychological abuse could have just as dramatically adverse effect on a person’s life as other forms of abuse.

She was also of the view that most individuals’ mental health conditions were as a result of being treated abusively by their parents/primary caregivers.

She also believed that people developed addiction problems and/or turned to crime due to having experienced significant parental abuse.

Emotional and psychological abuse is sometimes blatant and obvious; however, often it is subtle, insidious, hard to precisely identify or pin down. For example, much of human communication is conducted through non-verbal means such as tone of voice/intonation, facial expression and body language. The power of nonverbal communication should not be underestimated – its effects can be psychologically devastating.

Alice Miller: The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Later Violent Behaviour

Above: Alice Miller, psychologist. 1923-2010.

Indeed, I recall, more vividly than I would wish to, how, not yet a teenager, I would return home from school and, as I approached the front door, would sometimes catch the eye of my mother standing at the kitchen window doing the washing up. The look she would give me I can only describe as a mixture of hostility, contempt and disgust. When I rang the doorbell she would open it only ajar an inch and beat a hasty retreat, her back to me as I entered the house to be met with stoney silence and seething, palpable resentment.

Another reason why emotional and psychological abuse can be hard to identify is that the child (or, indeed, the adult reflecting upon his/her childhood) may, as a means of psychological, unconscious self-defence, be in a state of denial in regarding the abuse s/he suffered. Such a state of denial may persist well into adulthood or even for a lifetime.

This situation is tragic as the individual who is in denial may have experienced severe emotional and behavioural problems throughout his/her whole life, but, not knowing the true cause, was unable to effectively deal with his/her difficulties.

The situation is complicated further by the fact that many psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and therapists are themselves parents and may, therefore, be reluctant to support the idea that parents are almost always the cause of their offsprings’ psychological condition as they would then have to blame themselves for any psychiatric problems their own children had.

Controversially, Miller was against the idea of adult children forgiving their parents. She felt this would lead to the repressed anger the individual felt towards his/her parent/s being DISPLACED onto SCAPEGOATS. This repressed anger may be acted out in the form of physical violence.

Indeed, she went so far as to suggest that Adolf Hitler displaced the rage he felt towards his abusive father onto Jews, homosexuals, the mentally ill and other victims of the Holocaust; and that many wars started due to world leaders displacing their own rage, acquired during their own childhoods, onto the enemy.

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

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Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic Rage

I have already discussed the potentially devastating effects a narcissistic parent may have upon their child’s psychological development (eg click here). In this article, however, I wish to concentrate upon a particular symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, that of ‘NARCISSISTIC RAGE.’

The term ‘narcissistic rage’ was first coined by the psychologist Heinz Kohut in 1972. Kohut believed that it results from ‘narcissistic injury’. ‘Narcissistic injury’ can be defined as ‘A PERCEIVED THREAT TO (the narcissist’s) SELF-WORTH’.

Whilst, on the surface, a narcissist acts as if s/he is highly superior to others and has a greatly inflated, grandiose sense of self-worth, just beneath this superficial facade lies an extremely fragile, weak and vulnerable ego which the narcissist is desperate to protect from further damage.

It is because their ego, in reality, is so fragile and vulnerable, which the narcissist is desperate to protect at almost any cost, that even the slightest threat to their tenuous grip on their self-esteem, such as a very minor criticism, can trigger an outburst of extreme and disproportionate rage directed at the person who dared make the criticism.

 

In this way, extreme aggression becomes the narcissist’s form of defence.

Narcissistic Rage

This self-protective narcissistic rage can take on two forms :

1) Explosive rage

2) Passive-aggressive rage

Explosive rage : this type of rage is self-explanatory. My own mother would hysterically yell that she felt she ‘could knife’ me / felt ‘murderous towards’ me / felt ‘evil towards’ me / rued the day I was born / would throw me out of the house (this last one a threat that she carried out when I was thirteen years old.

Passive- aggressive rage :  this type involves the narcissist becoming petulant, childishly sulky and, often’ giving the object of her wrath ‘the silent treatment’ (click here to read my article about what ‘ the silent treatment’ entails).

The rage that the narcissist expresses can be extremely vindictive and is often employed as a way of seeking revenge on the person who ( often inadvertantly) upset them. The narcissist may well want the person punished and psychologically hurt ( or, indeed, physically hurt, as some narcissists will use physical as well as verbal violence in their inexorable pursuit of vengeance).

 

Summary :

Narcissistic rage is a defense mechanism employed by the narcissist in a desperate attempt to preserve their extremely precarious and tenuous sense of self-confidence and self- esteem. They have an overwhelming need to maintain their false, superficial, grandiose view of themselves used to keep their deeper feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness at bay.

 

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

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