Category Archives: David’s Personal Experiences

When Parents Evict Their Child.

Parents evict child

My mother forced me out of her house when I was thirteen.

I went to live with my father and step-mother.

They threw me out when I was barely out of my teens.

Did I steal? No. Did I take drugs? Had I ever laid a finger on any of them? No.

So why? I honestly don’t know. My father would only say I was ‘difficult’ and put a ‘strain’ on my step-mother (in fact, my father threw me out at her behest).

It is certainly true I was (as my father always taunted me) ‘morose’ and prone to outbursts of vebal rage. I also once, according to my step-mother, when I was fourteen, knocked a cup of coffee out of her hand (she had recently shouted at me in what she believed to be ‘tongues’ – she was a religious nutcase) although I have no memory of this.

Also, I once threw a set of keys at my bedroom wall, knocking out a little plaster from the wall. Essentially, my step-mother, I think, believed these were signs of some kind of particularly sinister demonic possession.

The final straw came when I told my parents I was gay (actually, I don’t like that word, it sounds so, well, for want of a better word, gay). This, according to my step-mother’s belief system, was unequivocal proof that I was evil beyond redemption, fit only to be eternally tortured in hell.

But the incident that immediately proceeded and finally provoked my banishment from the (soon to be inaccurately described as) ‘family’ home was almost absurd in its triviality:

My father and step-mother had been away on holiday. I took advantage of this by inviting some friends (who had always shown me the greatest hospitality) over for the evening. We drank and played cards. Inadvertantly, one of us (I don’t remember who, and it’s of no relevance) left a cigarette burning in a makeshift cardboard ashtray (the empty tray of a large matchbox).

The results were inevitable : a large, deep burn mark on the table.

On top of this, as the house had only two single bedrooms and one double bedroom (my father’s and step-mother’s) it seemed obvious that I would sleep in my own room, one friend in the other single room, and the two others (brothers) in the double. I did not give this a second thought.

However, on the return of my father and step-mother, the latter was overcome by an utterly irrational fit of moral outrage.

Now, you’d think, (wouldn’t you?), that she’d have been most angered by the burn mark in the table (which I and another friend had, absurdly, tried to paint over, with predictable results).

But, no.

Apparently, by my having allowed the two brothers to sleep in the marital bed (as she put it), it had been besmirched, nay, sullied! It was a crime against God! Against nature!

The next day I was out. My self-esteem was so low, and this seems incredible to me now, that I meekly accepted my forced eviction, feeling I must have somehow deserved it.

My step-mother’s reaction seems so extreme that I now wonder if, projecting her own sexual anxieties, she didn’t suspect that some sort of homosexual/incestuous/generally weird orgy had taken place in the bed.

Sadly, not.

The final irony is that my step-mother was once divorced, had an illegitimate son (from when it was frowned upon) from some transient and ephemeral lover, and was remarried to my father (which the Bible, if my ecclesiastical knowledge has not deserted me, regards as bigamy). Presumably, she only believed in the bits of the Bible she approved of and which she believed, or, rather, conveniently chose to believe, ‘justified’ her venomous prejudices and nauseating moral hypocrisy. How many gay people have killed themselves in response to such religious twaddle? And, fueled by such attitudes, how many have been imprisoned (and sometimes raped by the very people holding them prisoner)? How many tortured? How many executed? And why, will somebody please explain to me, is the Church so utterly obsessed with sex?

Oh, and by the way, she founded and ran a charity for the homeless which garnered her (much to my not inconsiderable chagrin) much social adulation.

 

 

PS. I have briefly recounted the story of being thrown out of my mother’s house elsewhere, so do not repeat myself here.

Resources:

Start to overcome being unloved as a child (instantly downloadable hypnosis audio): click here.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

The Relationship With The Sociopathic Mother

sociopathic mother

 

According to the psychotherapist Christine Louise de Canonville, sociopaths tend to follow a particular pattern in their relationship with others, manipulatively guiding the relationship through three specific phases in a Machiavellian manner. These three stages are as follows:

PHASE 1 : The Idealization Phase

PHASE 2 : The Devaluation Phase

PHASE 3 : The Discarding Phase

Let’s briefly look at each of these phases in turn:

1) Idealization:

In this phase the sociopath presents herself in a positive manner, in order to gain favour and admiration. She may use techniques such as extreme flattery.

If she can make the person she is targeting love and admire her, or, better still, as in the case of a child, become psychologically and emotionally dependent upon her, this makes that person highly vulnerable and gives the sociopath great power to hurt and control him/her.

2) Devaluation:

Once the sociopath has successfully completed phase one, phase two may begin : the devaluation phase. In this stage, the sociopath undermines the person’s self-esteem and confidence. She may deride and mock him/her, treat him/her with contempt and disdain, call him/her hurtful and insulting names, humiliate him/her, and become utterly cold, hostile and aggressive towards the person.

3) Having psychologically destroyed her victim, and the victim is of no further use to her, she loses interest and discards him/her like a plastic disposable razor.

sociopathic_mother

Case Study From Personal Experience:

Whilst my mother has never been diagnosed as a sociopath (to the best of my knowledge), my relationship with her as a child followed the above pattern so closely that it is somewhat disconcerting, to put it mildly; I illustrate this, briefly, below:

1) Idealizing : soon after my parents divorced, my mother started to use me as a kind of personal counsellor. She manipulatively reinforced this behaviour by telling me how caring, compassionate, sensitive and loving I was. She even proudly declared that I was her own, private, ‘Little Psychiatrist.’

2) Devaluing : however, my mother was highly unstable, unpredictable and and prone to fly into terrifying rages as a result of the most trivial ‘provocations’ (as she perceived them to be).

As I entered puberty, to defend myself against her random, devastating psychological assaults (trying to pacify her, even if I was in floods of tears as I did so, made her worse –  indeed, I used to get the strong impression she derived some perverse thrill from my ‘snivelling’, as she would term it).

In a vain attempt to avoid being psychologically crushed, I started to argue with her and stand up for myself. This she could not tolerate. She began to refer to me as ‘scabby’ (I had started to self-harm by picking at my skin), ‘poof’ (I was extremely sensitive) or simply, ‘that little bastard.’

On my thirteenth birthday, in the morning as I got ready for school, she completely ignored me, as did my sixteen year brother (who would always joyously join in and encourage my mother’s verbal assaults, or intentionally instigate them).

Not a syllable was uttered to me (even an insulting one, but somehow being treated as invisible/non-existant, was, if its possible, even worse).

She would also often tell me she wished I’d never been born or that she would throw me out of the house.

3) Discarding : indeed, she did throw me out of the house when I was about thirteen and a half. I was forced to go and live my father and his new wife. I almost immediately intuited I was not wanted there either.

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

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Ten Main Causes Of Childhood Trauma

 

The Main Causes Of Childhood Trauma :

A major study into the effects of childhood trauma, the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study, which provided overwhelming evidence of the link between childhood trauma and the later development of various psychiatric illnesses, physical illness, and violent behaviour, considered the following ten events/experiences to be representative of the most traumatic a child is likely to experience and, therefore, to be the main causes of childhood trauma and its potentially devastating consequences that, without effective therapy, can endure for an entire lifetime.

1) Growing up in a household in which a parent/primary caregiver is an alcoholic/chronic abuser of narcotics

2) Growing up in a household in which a parent/primary caregiver goes to prison

3) Growing up in a household in which a parent/primary caregiver has a diagnosable psychiatric condition, such as major depression

4) Growing up in a home in which the mother is physically abused by the father/her partner

5) Experiencing emotional abuse

6) Experiencing sexual abuse

7) Experiencing physical abuse

8) Losing a parent through death/ divorce/separation

9) Experiencing emotional neglect

10) Experiencing physical neglect (e.g. children who are inadequately fed or inadequately clothed).

Through my whole childhood, including first living with my (highly unstable) mother and (emotionally constipated) father, then with just my mother, then with my mother and her (schizophrenic/alcoholic/jail-bird) live-in lover, then with my father and (religious crackpot, ‘tongue-speaking’, demonizing) step-mother, I’ve just calculated I experienced eight of these; not quite a full-house, admittedly. However, in this context, the term ‘full-house’ is grotesquely ironic, of course.

Some people, alas, have experienced all ten (and possibly more, as the above list is not exhaustive – it does not include, for example, the experiencing of natural disasters).

An infographic, summarizing the above and also showing prevalence (by percentage of all individuals surveyed) is displayed below:

Ten_types_of_childhood_traums

 

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

 

 

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Depression: Risk Factors And Why It Is Underdiagnosed.

 

Undiagnosed Childhood Depression

Whilst there are many similarities between childhood depression and adult depression, there are also some important differences. One such difference is children displaying objectively observable symptoms of depression often deny that they are depressed.

Certainly this was true in my case as a child. For example, I would have felt a deep sense of (completely irrational and undeserved) shame had my contemporaries realised how deeply unhappy I was, as if being unhappy was some kind of contemptible personal and moral failing (or, as I would have thought at the time, yet another contemptible personal and moral failing).

childhood_depression

Although each child’s experience of depression differs, there are certain symptoms which frequently present themselves. These include:

– disrupted sleep or a need to sleep too much

– impaired concentration (which may lead to academic underachievement)

– low levels of energy

– mood changes

– increased irritability/anger

– general negative outlook on life

– self-harm

– loss of concern about appearance

– increased irritability

– increased proneness to become angry/enraged

– social withdrawal

– loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities

anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)

– deterioration in behaviour at school and in academic performance

– physical problems such as headaches and stomach ailments (particularly in younger children who may not otherwise seem depressed; such children – although they will themselves be unaware of this – are described by psychologists of somaticizing their internal feelings of mental distress).

Unfortunately, too, because being depressed increases a child’s vulnerability, and other children quickly sense such vulnerability, a depressed child may become the target of school bullies, significantly exacerbating the depressed child’s problems, particularly as his/her depression may make his/her attempts at social interaction awkward and painful anyway, nevermind having to cope with bullies on top of this.  Again, this was close to my own youthful experience.

And, of course, having social difficulties is psychologically devastating for a child. This is because children have a profound need to feel they are accepted by their peers and that they ‘belong’.

What Factors Put Children At Risk Of Developing Depression?

About 95℅ of adolescents who develop clinical depression have chronic problems such as:

– the experience of significant trauma

– being the victim of abuse within the home

– living in a home in which there is domestic violence

– parental divorce/separation/disharmony

– parental neglect

– parental alcoholism/misuse of drugs

– living in a financially poor household

– living in a single parent household

– being taken into care by the local authority

– being placed in an institution young offenders

– being in constant conflict with parents/primary caregivers

– living with a mentally ill patent

– being a young care / parentified

Comorbidity:

Depressed children are likely to have comorbid (simultaneously occurring) mental health conditions such as alcoholism, drug dependency or ADHD (Attention Deficit And Hyperactivity Disorder).

Prevalence:

Depression amongst children is less prevalent than it is amongst adults, but it still affects:

Approx. 7℅ of adolescent children

Approx. 3 ℅ of pre-pubertal children

 

Why Childhood Depression Is Significantly Underdiagnosed:

Sadly, as in my own case, the fact that a child is suffering from depression often goes unacknowledged. This can make the child’s condition much worse; for example, if one of the depressed child’s symptoms is outbursts of rage and anger, s/he may be blamed and punished for this, serving only to lower the child’s self-esteem further.

Indeed, this could lead the child to turn the anger s/he feels in on herself/himself, resulting in self-harm, suicidal thoughts and/or suicidal behaviour.

Appropriate education of parents, teachers and others who come into frequent contact with children about child mental health issues would increase the likelihood of childhood depression being picked up in its early stages which would, in turn, improve the chances of effective treatment.

Also, it would be helpful if young people themselves were taught more about childhood mental health issues, not least because another reason depression in the young is underdiagnosed is due to the stigma that, even in the 21st century, still attaches itself being diagnosed with a psychiatric illness (as I allude to at the start of this article).

Treatment:

This should focus on the ‘whole child’ so that:

– any other conditions the child has may be addressed eg. excessive drinking, social phobia, inappropriate anger

– problems that exist in the family as a whole may be addressed (children who come from dysfunctional families / stressful family environments have a much higher incidence of depression)

– if the child’s parents have a mental illness (making it more likely the child will suffer from mental health problems) that this, too, is addressed.

For Information About Available Help – Click here.

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Why We Must Stop Blaming Ourselves For Our Mistreatment.

 

It is an established fact that most children who are mistreated by their parents or primary care givers believe they are to blame for their abuse. I know I did. Indeed, I concluded I must be a terrible person or why else would I be treated so badly?  This, too, I have since learned, is an extremely common inference mistreated children make.

Because we tend to blame ourselves for the bad treatment we received (such as psychological abuse, physical beatings etc), we develop a deep sense of deep and abiding shame.

As a consequence, we tell nobody about our terrible predicament; in my own case, I absolutely dreaded others finding out and developed an obsessive and profound (and irrational) anxiety that somehow they would; I imagined other school children taunting me with comments such as:

‘What sort of  freak are you that your own parents hate you and don’t want you!!??’

It is very important that we stop blaming ourselves for what happened to us as carrying around a sense of guilt is exceptionally psychologically debilitating and prevents us from gaining any pleasure from life as we believe we simply do not deserve any happiness. Also, our sense of being ‘a bad person’ tends to be self-perpetuating.

However, despite the obvious benefits of freeing ourselves from crushing, yet irrational, guilt, the process of doing so can entail its own painful elements : for example, by stopping blaming ourselves, we may need to face up to the reality that, in fact, it was someone who should have cared for us and protected us who was the wrong – doer. At last seeing the truth about this person (or persons) can be extremely upsetting and an enormous shock.

childhood trauma self blame

Who Was To Blame?

According to the psychologist, Padesky, we should try to identify all those involved in our mistreatment which can help us to deflect the blame from ourselves. For example, the list that we come up with may look something like this:

– family members who turned a blind eye to what was happening

– our school for not picking up on signs we may have been at risk

– social services for not intervening

– the abuser/s themselves

– doctors who missed signs we were at risk

etc…etc…

Reminding Ourselves Of Our Former Vulnerability:

Another technique we can use to help remind ourselves we were not to blame is to find, and look at, photographs of ourselves at the age we were at the time we suffered our mistreatment in order to help us to empathize with just how vulnerable we were at the time.

Reasons We Were Not To Blame:

Finally, given that we may have spent years experiencing self-blame and self-hatred it can be very useful to make a list of all the reasons we can think of why we were not to blame and to occasionally re-read this list in order to help ourselves in our continuing recovery process.

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

‘Humor’: How Parents May Use It To Emotionally Wound Their Children

 

How can parents’ use of ‘humor’ potentially hurt their children?

I remember when I was very young, perhaps 3 or 4 years of age, my father would ‘play fight’ with me. For instance, he would ‘scissor’ me between his legs, exerting enough pressure for it to be painful, or, his speciality, hold me down and tickle me relentlessly to the point, in fact, when I would tearfully BEG him to stop. Laughing and crying at the same time was a peculiar sensation.

Most bizarrely, too, and, retrospectively, disturbingly, he once told me (again I’d have been about 4 years old), that if I misbehaved he would take down my shorts and underwear and lift me up over the garden fence so the neighbours could see my naked lower body and laugh at me. Disconcertingly odd behaviour on his behalf, surely?

The ‘tickling’ (‘tickling’ can actually be used as a form of torture, by the way, so don’t underestimate its potential effects – just because the victim’s laughing doesn’t mean s/he’s enjoying it!) was carried out by my father under the guise of ‘playing around’ as, to a much lesser degree (I took the threat seriously), perhaps was the threat to humiliate me in front of the neighbours.

Looking back now, it is clear to me both acts were, in fact, acts of mild sadism, even though my father may have claimed (I never brought the subject up whilst he was alive, which I regret) he was just ‘kidding around’.

hurtful_humor

Parents Who Use Destructive ‘Humour’:

Indeed, many parents emotionally wound their children under the guise of ‘kidding around’ or ‘just trying to be humorous.’

Destructive, hurtful or harmful humor is usually an expression of underlying negative feelings such as hatred, anger, hostility, resentment or, as in the case of the personal examples that I’ve provided above, sadism. 

Often, too, these underlying negative feelings have not been caused by the victim of the destructive humor, but by others who the user of the destructive humor is not in a position to inact revenge upon – instead, s/he displaces the underlying negative feelings onto an innocent victim.

There are several categories of harmful and destructive humor which include the following:

– ridicule/sarcasm

– put-downs/derision/belittling

– ‘humor’ that demeans and devalues an individual

– sarcasm

– sexist/racist/otherwise offensively discriminatory ‘jokes’

– practical jokes

– tickling

It should be borne in mind, also, that if we complain about being the object of cruel and hurtful humor, we may find ourselves accused of ‘not being able to take a joke’, or of ‘being oversensitive’ , that it was ‘just teasing’ or, especially irritatingly, being told that we need to ‘lighten up.’

There are, however, various methods that can be used to discourage others from using destructive humor. These include:

– don’t ‘play along’ by joining in the laughter just because you feel pressured to do so

– bluntly state you do not find the ‘joke’ funny or that it’s not your kind of humor (people who laugh at everything, paradoxically, often have little sense of humor and certainly lack discernment)

– start defining limits and boundaries if someone continually oversteps the mark by making so-called ‘funny’ comments are hurtful

– ask the individual to explain precisely why s/he considers what s/he said to be amusing

– respond with bored indifference, perhaps even feigning agreement.

 

With all these strategies, it is usually best to stay calm and not to display anger, if at all possible.

Resources:

emotional_abuse

Above eBook now 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

Why We May Think Obsessively About Our Childhood Trauma

why we might think obsessively about our childhood

Certain family members have, in the past, objected to my preoccupation with my childhood. However, such criticism is predicated upon the fallacious notion that we can choose what we think about. We can’t. The most famous example which helps to illustrate this is that if you tell a person ‘not to think of a pink elephant for the next minute’ s/he will find it impossible to comply with the instruction. Feel free to test this out!

Indeed, telling me to stop thinking about my childhood was tantamount to telling me to stop thinking in English and to start thinking in Chinese instead. (You will not be startled to learn that I don’t speak a word of Chinese.)

Our constant re-experiencing of our childhood trauma and/or the feelings it engendered in us may take the following forms:

– intense, vivid, terrifying nightmares

– intrusive thoughts (ie. distressing thoughts about our childhood trauma which invade our mind against our will)

– flashbacks – these involve feelings that we are re-experiencing our childhood trauma or particular aspects of it

– emotional distress, especially when something happens that remind us of our childhood trauma (this reminding will frequently take place on an unconscious level)

– physiology – including raised heart beat, raised blood pressure, sweating, trembling, dizziness and hyperventilation.

Intrusive_thoughts

So why do so many of us ruminate to the point of obsession about our childhood traumatic experiences? What purpose does it serve?

A major reason we can become preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and memories relating to our childhood trauma is believed to be because the brain does not process traumatic memories in the way it processes ordinary memories. 

However, for us to achieve psychological health, the traumatic memories need to be properly processed and our preoccupation with them, including nightmares, intrusive memories and flashbacks represent the brain’s desperate attempts to carry out this processing. Our brains replay our trauma over and over again in order to help us gain a full sense of understanding about what happened to us and to help us manage, and gain control over, the feelings associated with trauma.

A therapy that can help with such problems is called memory reprocessing therapy.

Relaxation techniques such as self-hypnosis can also help to calm us when we experience intrusive thoughts and flashbacks.

Resources:

Self-hypnosis for Relaxation: Click here.

 

EBook:

 

Above eBook now available on 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

How Our Innate Sense Of Trust Can Be Shattered.

 

When I was about nine or ten years old, about two years after my parents had divorced and I was still living with my mother, she met a man called Iain McDonald at a singles’ bar and soon afterwards invited him to move in with us (‘us’ being myself, my brother, who is three years older than me, and my mother).

He accepted this offer with alacrity.

He was an alcoholic, and used to go missing for periods of time. He also hired cars and neither paid for them (he wrote cheques he knew would bounce) nor returned them (until the police caught up with him)

Usually, too, he would drive these cars with way over the legal limit of alcohol in his blood – including when I was in the car.

Indeed, he once drove myself, my older brother and my brother’s friend, Leslie, to a fun-fair. Upon arrival, after he had parked the car in a haphazard manner, rather like a gorilla who’d only had one driving lesson and was blind-folded, he slumped forward in his driver’s seat, seemingly on the verge of unconsciousness.

Then, in a most uncoordinated fashion, like someone with advancing Parkinson’s disease, he retrieved a ten pound note from his wallet, telling us all (his speech so slurred as to be virtually unintelligible) to go on some rides and to come back when the money ran out.

My brother snatched the money from his hand and he and his friend bounded off to the rides like excitable puppies on amphetamines. I, however, chose to stay in the car and ‘nurse’ Iain.

Because of this kind of behaviour (eg the drink-driving, financial fraud and stealing of cars) he was frequently arrested. Indeed, I almost became used to the police coming around to our house, or to seeing them waiting in their panda car parked directly outside our house, adjacent to the small front garden.

As Iain’s criminal activities escalated, he started to receive harsher penalties from the Court. Whilst he was living with us, he served some short terms of incarceration at Pentonville Prison in London. From his cell, he would write to my mother. I remember seeing the letters with several words, phrases or sentences having been redacted by the prison censors – thick black blocks of ink.

download

The key element of this short tale from my past, and the one that is perhaps most pertinent to the title, is what we discovered after the first time we found out he’d been arrested, which must have been several months, possibly longer, after he had first moved in with us. This is what happened:

One night there was a phone call from the police. Iain had been arrested and was in their custody and they wanted my mother to go immediately to the police station, presumably in order to help them with their enquiries.

She duly went and did not return to our house until about 9 or 10pm. I was in bed and my light was off. Nevertheless, she burst into my bedroom in a highly distressed and hysterical state, declaring that she had just been informed by the police that the man we all knew as ‘Iain McDonald’ had been living under an alias. His real name, apparently, was John Lee. Also, he had not been living in Australia before he met my mother as he had claimed, but, in fact, came from Kelso in Scotland. Furthermore, he had a family there (in Kelso) – a wife and children. (He had told my mother he was single and childless). It seems that one reason why he had been stealing cars was to enable himself to drive to Kelso in Scotland, a journey of perhaps five hundred miles, to see them.

My mother blurted out all this information, through her tears, with such speed and urgency that it was very hard to take in. I just remember feeling stunned and confused.

I was not yet even eleven years old.

Such experiences, of course, undermine our ability trust. Indeed, without effective therapy, such experiences may mean we are unable to trust others properly for the whole of our adult lives, causing us tremendous problems both forming and maintaining relationships.

Other childhood experiences that can potentially seriously undermine our ability to trust others during our adult lives are being abandoned or rejected by our parents, being neglected by our parents (emotionally and/or physically), or being betrayed, exploited or abused by them.

To read my article on how such an inability to trust others and accompanying problems developing healthy relationships can result from our traumatic childhood experiences, click here.

One effective way to address such problems relating to how our childhood experiences may adversely affect our adult belief system is by undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). To read my article about this, click here.

Resources:

‘Learn To Trust Again’ Hypnotherapy Audio (instantly downloadable MP3). Click here for further information.

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

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

Why The Child May See ‘Bad’ Parents As ‘Good.’

 

Why do children often idealize abusive parents?

When we are children, our own home environment is the only one we know; we have nothing to compare it with. Therefore, we may think such an environment is ‘normal’, even when, in reality, this is very far from the case indeed. In other words, we may believe that what we experience at home is just a part of life – one that everybody has to somehow tolerate and survive.

DEPENDENCY:

The child is utterly dependent upon the parent. Because of this, it is psychologically least uncomfortable for him/her to view the parent as essentially benign and as having his/her ( ie. the child’s) best interests at heart. To believe otherwise would be overwhelmingly psychologically distressing.

LOW SELF-ESTEEM:

Also, abusive parents are likely to have low self-esteem, low confidence and a poorly developed sense of self. Because of this, they are also likely to be highly intolerant of any criticism. Indeed, if the child is critical of them, the parent may become hostile, angry, aggressive or otherwise punish the child.

It follows, therefore, that if the child is able to convince him/herself that the parent is, in fact, ‘good’, s/he is far less likely to criticise the parent and more likely to avoid punishment. In this way, idealizing the parent has, in evolutionary terms, ‘survival value’

download

SELF-BLAME:

Sadly, children who are abused by their parents almost invariably (and irrationally) blame themselves. For example, if the parent frequently displays hatred towards the child, the child may convince him/herself that it is his/her own fault and that any parent would act in this way towards him/her.

The child may then be unconsciously driven to ‘prove’ this to him/herself by behaving towards all adults in aggressive, hostile and rude ways with the (again unconscious) goal of alienating them (thus ‘proving’ his/her theory that s/he is intrinsically unlovable/an inspirer of the hatred of others all (not ‘just’ his/her parents).

Similarly, if the child is rejected by his/her parents, s/he may behave in ways that encourage others to reject him/her so that s/he can tell him/herself : ‘it’s not my parent who is at fault, it’s me.’

Such psychological devices help the child to perpetuate the myth of having parents who are not at fault.

Importantly, too, by blaming him/herself, rather than his/her patents, s/he gives him/herself the illusion s/he has control over the situation and the power to change it for the better. His/her reasoning may be as follows: ‘If I change my behaviour my parents will treat me well.’

SPLITTING:

Sometimes the child will attempt to maintain a ‘perfect’ image of the abusive parent, where this is blatantly a false image, by a psychological process known as splitting.

It involves (unconsciously) mentally splitting off the parent’s negative characteristics and behaviours by attributing their cause to something external to the parent (thus exonerating the parent from personal responsibility for them).

For example, if a mother screams hate-filled abuse at the child (as my own mother was prone to doing) the child may tell him/herself it is ‘only’ because she is overtired.

Or, if a drunken father hits his child, the child may reason that it’s ‘only’ because of the alcohol or because ‘all men are naturally physically aggressive’ ( thus attributing the father’s behaviour to his gender).

A final example of splitting, in this case attributing the cause of the behaviour to another person, is that of a child telling him/herself that the father only abandoned him/her because the mother was impossible to live with (indeed, my own father gave this as a reason for leaving the family home when I was eight. I internalised and accepted this; indeed, I only came to question its validity relatively recently. It also begs the question, of course, of why he left an eight year old with such a mother).

 

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

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

Depersonalization: How Trauma Can Leave Us Feeling ‘Unreal.’

 

One of the (myriad) symptoms of my illness can, perhaps, be best conveyed by the following example : I would look at a beautiful view, such as the sun setting on the horizon of the sea near where I live, but feel nothing. Whilst most people would feel their spirits lifted, glad to be alive, even joyful, I would just experience an emotional deadness and sense of emptiness. In fact, if anything, I would feel even worse than normal – as my inability to feel anything positive would remind me of how utterly devoid of meaning or anything vaguely approaching fulfillment my life had become.

In such situations I would sometimes try to will myself to feel at least a flicker of positive emotion, but it was impossible. It was as if the part of my brain which experiences pleasure had been excised from it by a malevolent and demonic neuro-surgeon.

Similarly, I always preferred rainy days to sunny ones because at least on rainy days there is not so much pressure on one to feel and behave cheerfully.

In short, I was suffering from a condition known as depersonalization.

 

 

What Is Depersonalization?

Whilst many people have not heard of the condition of depersonalization, and even many mental health professionals know little about it, depersonalization is, in fact, the third most common mental health condition after depression and anxiety (and people who suffer from depersonalization often suffer from depression and anxiety simultaneously).

It involves one’s sense of self becoming greatly diminished so that the concept of one’s individuality can be lost, leaving a feeling of uncertainty regarding who one actually is.

It also involves a sense of derealization. The world itself feels unreal, purposeless and meaningless. Many sufferers say it is like being in a constant dream state. In my own case, I felt that I was looking at the world through a metre thick, grey tinted, opaque glass. I was outside of things. Disconnected.

Sufferers, too, often describe feeling like an automaton or robot, simply going through the motions in life, but utterly unable to engage with the world emotionally.  Life seems pointless and absurd. The sufferer feels detached from the immediacy of the day-to-day world.

Often, too, as can be inferred from the above, people with the condition feel a profound sense of existential crisis, preoccupied with the meaning (or lack thereof) of existence. They are tormentingly aware of their condition and of the paucity of their experience of the world.

If early childhood, for some, is a magical and joyful time, this condition is its antithesis. One is cast out of Eden to inhabit, if not physical Hell, its psychological equivalent.

Other symptoms include feeling separate from one’s body. Some, too, report that everyday objects can start to seem strange, alien and ethereal.

Meeting people who used to lift our spirits now leave us feeling cold. Even people we considered ourselves to have loved. They can now bring no joy. No comfort. No consolation. It is too late.

Sufferers may be able to laugh and cry, but do not feel the emotions that normally accompany these acts. The world seems flat and two dimensional, as if experienced through a cold and dispiriting fog. One is numb, the emotions shut down. Some report feeling like a zombie – the living dead. Many feel they are going insane.

Causes of the condition are not fully understood, but often it follows severe trauma and protracted exposure to intense stress. As such, it can be seen as the mind detaching itself from reality when the reality can no longer be endured. However, the price of this protective mechanism is a heavy one indeed.

For treatment options, please click on this link.

 

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

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