David Hosier MSc. Founder of childhoodtraumarecovery.com

Author Archives: David Hosier Msc

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

Being Constantly Humiliated By Parents May Damage Brain’s Corpus Callosum

corpus callosum
damage to corpus callosum

What Is The Corpus Callosum?

 

The brain is divided into two halves called the RIGHT HEMISPHERE and the LEFT HEMISPHERE. These two halves are connected by a structure called the CORPUS CALLOSUM. (It is located above the thalamus, underneath the cortex, see image below)

 

corpus callosum

 

Above : The location of the corpus callosum (marked in orange). Of all the brain’s white matter structures, it is the largest.

 

What Is The Function Of The Corpus Callosum?

 

The function of the corpus callosum is to allow communication to take place between the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere ; it facilitates this communication by transmitting neural messages between these two parts of the brain.

 

What Does The Corpus Callosum Communicate Between The Brain’s Right And Left Hemisphere?

 

The corpus callosum is responsible for the communication between the two hemispheres of emotion, arousal, sensory information, information relating to motor functions and higher cognitive abilities (including working memory, imagery and consciously controlled – or willed’ – action, amongst others).

 

The Effect Of Parental Maltreatment On The Corpus Callosum :

A study conducted by McCrory et al., 2011, found that children who were significantly maltreated by their parent (or parents) over a protracted period of time had corpus collosa that were, on average, significantly  smaller than those found in children who had been fortunate enough to have experienced relatively stable and happy childhoods.

 In more specific terms, their (i.e. the maltreated children’s corpus callosa had less thickness of the white fibre area.

 

Children Who Are Constantly Humiliated By Their Parents May Be At Particular Risk Of Incurring Impaired Development Of Their Corpus Callosa :

Subtle, emotional abuse by parents, due, not least, to its particularly insidious nature,  can be just as damaging, or even more damaging, than more blatant forms of abuse.

Indeed, studies suggest that children of parents who frequently mock and humiliate them are especially likely to sustain damage to the development of their corpus callosa. (To read my previously published article : Humor : How Parents May Use It To Emotionally Wound Their Children, click here.)

The effect of this is to impair communication between the brain’s left and right hemispheres and it is theorized that this may explain why such  children are frequently found to lack confidence in their linguistic skills and/or  to develop difficulties controlling their emotions.

eBook :

emotional abuse book   childhood trauma damages brain ebook

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

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

Explaining BPD In Terms Of The Diathesis-Stress Model

damage to right hemisphere of brain

BPD, diathesis stress model

What Does ‘Diathesis’ Mean?

The medical definition of ‘diathesis’ is ‘a heriditary or constitutional predisposition to a disease or other disorder.‘ (The word ‘diathesis’ itself derives from the Greek word for ‘disposition).

What Is The Diathesis-Stress Model?

The diathesis-stress model is a psychological theory that proposes that a psychiatric disorder is caused not by heriditary factors (i.e. predispositional vulnerability) alone, NOR by psychologically stressful experiences alone, but by the way in which the two factors interact with one another.

Explaining Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) In Terms Of The Diathesis-Stress Model :

The diathesis-stress model is an appropriate model with which to explain how borderline personality disorder (BPD) develops in the individual. It is appropriate because research suggests that BPD does not occur in a person solely because of his/her traumatic and stressful childhood experiences nor solely because of an unfortunate genetic inheritance. What is vital in determining whether or not a person ‘succumbs’ to BPD is  how their genes and childhood experiences combine and interact.

In other words, a person who is genetically vulnerable to developing BPD and experiences severe, protracted trauma during childhood may well go on to suffer from BPD in adulthood (see equation 1, below)

However, another individual who has low genetic vulnerability to the disorder and suffers a similarly traumatic childhood (although, of course, the ‘amount’ of trauma a person experiences is impossible to quantify – each case is utterly unique) may well avoid developing it (see equation 2, below)

So, we could represent the above with the following equations :

1)   HIGH LEVEL OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA + HIGH GENETIC VULNERABILITY = HIGH CHANCE OF DEVELOPING BPD.

2)   HIGH LEVEL OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA +LOW GENETIC VULNERABILITY = LOWER CHANCE OF DEVELOPING BPD (compared to 1, above).

And, of course, it naturally follows that :

3)   LOW LEVEL OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA + LOW GENETIC VULNERABILITY = LOW CHANCE OF DEVELOPING BPD

4)   LOW LEVEL OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA + HIGH GENETIC VULNERABILITY= HIGHER CHANCE OF DEVELOPING BPD (compared to 3, above)

More About Genetic Vulnerabilty To BPD :

In terms of genetic inheritance, what will make a person more susceptible to developing BPD?

The main consideration here is the person’s innate temperament. In particular, those who have naturally impulsive and emotionally labile personalities will, in general, be more predisposed to developing BPD if they also experience protracted and significant trauma during their childhoods compared to those more naturally inclined towards stoicism and timidity.

A Third Factor : Culture / Society :

However, the stress-diathesis model is not the whole story when we are considering the multiple, inter-relating causes that can lead to someone developing BPD. There is also the question of the culture / society in which the individual exists.

To learn more about this, you may wish to read my article entitled : Childhood Trauma, BPD, Genes And Culture.

 

eBook :

BPD eBook

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

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

The Link Between Childhood Trauma, Psychopathology And Sexual Orientation

childhood trauma and sexual orientation

high-and -low- functioning-BPD

Childhood Trauma And Sexual Orientation :

A study, based on statistics and information derived from the National Longitudinal Study Of Adolescent Health (2001-2002) examined the link between sexual orientation and history of childhood maltreatment. This research involved analysis relating to 13,962 participants that comprised young people between the ages of 18 and 27, of which :

  • 227 were gay/lesbian
  • 245 were bisexual
  • 13,490 were heterosexual

One of the primary aims of the study was to examine how sexual orientation was linked to experiences of childhood trauma and it was found that :

  • gay and lesbian participants were more likely to have experienced childhood trauma (including physical and sexual abuse) compared to heterosexuals
  • bisexual participants were also more likely to have experienced childhood trauma (including physical and sexual abuse) compared to heterosexuals

childhood trauma and sexual orientation

Psychopathology :

The study also looked at the prevalence of psychopathology amongst the three groups (see above) of participants and it was fond that :

  • gay and lesbian participants were more likely to have experienced symptoms of psychopathology compared to heterosexuals
  • bisexual participants were also more likely to have experienced symptoms of psychopathology compared to heterosexuals

(Psychopathological symptoms included depression, binge drinking, use of illegal drugs, smoking, alcoholism, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts)

Mediating Factors :

It was also found that :

  • Gay and lesbian participants were more likely to have experienced homelessness / housing adversity than heterosexuals
  • bisexuals were more likely to have experienced homelessness / housing adversity and also more likely to have suffered violence visited upon them by their intimate partners than heterosexuals

Conclusion :

The researchers concluded that factors such as the above, i.e. higher levels of childhood trauma, homelessness / housing adversity and experiences of domestic violence found amongst the gay / lesbian / bisexual population partially mediated (underlay) their higher rates of psychopathology compared to heterosexuals. However, their statistical analysis suggested that only about 10-20 percent of this difference was explained by the factors (childhood trauma, homelessness / housing adversity, domestic violence) described.

More research is necessary to tease out more information about how these various factors inter-relate to one another and what other factors may explain the association between childhood trauma, psychopatholgy and sexual orientation.

RESOURCE :

ACCEPT YOUR SEXUALITY – SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

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

Start Your Own Mental Health Blog

high-and -low- functioning-BPD

My Own Experience Of Blogging :

I started this blog about five years ago as I believed it would help in my recovery – it has certainly done so.

It has introduced some structure into my life and has had a cathartic effect. Most importantly, it has helped me understand my past feelings and behaviors better which has been, for me, a vital prerequisite to meaningful and lasting recovery.

Should You Start A Blog?

I therefore strongly recommend others who have experienced the pain of mental illness in their lives also start a blog. However, there is one proviso : it is important that you feel well enough to embark upon a blog, especially one which may stir up painful past memories which, in turn, could trigger symptoms.

Get started with WordPress! Use the one click install to start that Blog you’ve always wanted!

Writing As Therapy :

Of course, starting a blog about one’s mental health is just one option when it comes to therapeutic writing ;there are many others’

If we were emotionally wounded as children, writing down our thoughts and feelings, perhaps in a journal, can be extremely therapeutic. Or, if a we are particularly creative, writing a novel or poetry about early experiences can be extremely cathartic.

Alternatively, writing a letter to the person/people who hurt us, explaining how their treatment of us has affected us, can also be extremely helpful (whether or not we actually send the letter).

Indeed, it is not uncommon to hear writers say, because of the difficult early experiences they have had, that they actually feel compelled to write and start to feel unwell if they are somehow prevented from doing so.  Franz Kafka is an example of this – he had a very bad relationship with his father and, as well as writing novels (and the well known short story – Metamorphosis), he wrote a famous letter to his father (although he never actually sent it).

 

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Above – Franz Kafka

 

EXTERNALIZATION : One of the main reasons why writing about our early life trauma can be so effective at helping to feel better is that it gives us the opportunity to EXTERNALIZE what has happened to us, rather than keeping it painfully bottled up inside.

It also helps us to organize out thoughts about what happened to us, as well as helping us to gain a better understanding of how we have been affected by our experiences. Indeed, understanding what has caused us to have problems in our adult lives is of fundamental importance if we are to properly recover.

Furthermore, writing about our negative experiences helps us to put distance between them and ourselves  and allows us to view things more objectively. This can come as a great relief and lessen any painful, intrusive thoughts we may have been suffering.

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

 

 

Divorce : Signs Children Are Being Used As Pawns Or Weapons

children used as pawns in divorce

high-and -low- functioning-BPD

Introduction :

I have already published on this site articles which examine the potentially very psychologically damaging effects that divorce, particularly a  divorce that is acrimonious, can inflict upon the child. My own parents divorced when I was eight years old, so I do have some personal experience in relation to this subject.

When parents who separate feel extremely bitter, hostile, or, even, vengeful towards one another, it is a sad fact that some use their own children as pawns, or weapons, in an attempt to hurt and punish one another (or, of course, just one parent may act in this way). When this occurs, the distress the child feels as a result of his/her parents’ divorce is likely to be compounded and potentially induce in him/her a state of profound mental conflict and confusion as a result of split loyalties that are impossible to resolve.

It is important to ask, then, what are the signs that a child is being used as a pawn / weapon in such a manner? I list some of these below:

Signs The Child Is Being Used As A Pawn / Weapon :

  • preventing the child from seeing / speaking to / contacting the other parent
  • deceiving the child into believing that the other parent is to blame for the collapse of the marriage
  • exploiting the child by making him / her a ‘go-between’ / messenger to relay messages, particularly hostile, critical and disparaging messages, to the other parent
  • pressurising the child into taking sides
  • asking the child whom (i.e. which parent) they love more
  • questioning the child about the other parent’s behavior / using the child as a kind of ‘spy’ to gain ‘ incriminating’ information about the other parent
  • cancelling visitation at short notice to punish the other parent
  • causing, on purpose, the child to be late for visitation to punish the other parent
  • undermining the other parent’s reasonable rules, decisions and discipline merely to antagonize and frustrate the  him/her (i.e. the other parent)
  • openly displaying aggression and hostility towards the other parent in front of the child

children used as pawns in divorce

Using The Child As An Emotional Crutch :

When my parents got divorced, my mother started to use me as a sort of personal counsellor ; she even, shamelessly, referred to me as her ‘own Little Psychiatrist’ ; it was always her life we discussed, never, or extremely rarely and briefly, mine. For this reason, and many others which I have written about elsewhere on this site, I feel I was largely robbed of my childhood ; this has had terrible repercussions on my adult life (which I have also written about elsewhere on this site).

Indeed, it is not uncommon for parents, in the wake of a stressful divorce, to treat their child as a confidante, a friend, a spouse or even a parent (click here to read my article about the phenomenon of parentification and its potentially extremely psychologically damaging effects) and use him/her for emotional support that s/he is not developmentally mature enough to cope with and at a time when s/he (the child) is him/herself in particular need of emotional support. This is particularly the case if such confiding in the child involves spitefully ‘turning the child against’ the other parent.

You may also wish to read my post : Parental Alienation Syndrome.

eBook :

emotional abuse book

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

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

What Is ‘The Trauma Model’ Of Mental Disorders?

effects of childhood trauma ebook

high-and -low- functioning-BPD

The Trauma Model Of Mental Disorders :

According to the trauma model of mental disorders (also sometimes referred to as the trauma model of psychopathology), many professionals involved with the treatment of psychiatric disorders (such as psychiatrists) have been excessively preoccupied by the medical model of mental disorders (the medical model stresses the importance of physical factors that may underlie mental disorders such as a person’s genes and/or neurochemistry ; in line with this hypothesis, those who adhere to the medical model of mental disorders focus primarily on psychoactive medication – such as anti-depressants and major tranquilizers – or physical therapies – such as electro-convulsive therapy – as primary treatment choices) at the expense of taking into account the individual’s history of traumatic experience, especially severe and protracted trauma in early childhood.

According to the trauma model, too, significant problems relating to bonding and to the building a healthy, loving, nurturing, dependable relationship between the child and primary caregiver (most frequently the mother) are particularly predictive of such a child developing serious mental health difficulties in later life. However, childhood trauma leading to psychiatric problems in later can also take the form of physical, sexual and emotional abuse (the potentially catastrophic effects of significant and protracted emotional abuse have only recently started to be fully understood).

Significant Psychologists / Psychiatrists Who Have Adopted A Trauma Model Perspective Of Mental Disorders (Past And Present) :

Past psychologists / psychiatrists who have adhered to the trauma model of mental disorders include Arieti, Freud, Lidz, Bowlby, R.D. Laing and Colin Ross (see below for further, brief details) :

 

  • Arieti (1914-1981) advocated the treatment of those suffering from schizophrenia using psychotherapy
  • Freud’s (1856-1939) enormously influential work can be seen as representing the start of the academic discipline of child psychology and compelled society to acknowledge the profound relationship between a person’s childhood experiences and his/her mental health in later life.
  • Lidz (1910-2001) emphasized the severe psychological damage parents who ‘constantly undermine the child’s conception of himself’ do to their off-spring; he considered such treatment of the child by the parents as so serious because such psychological abuse can constitute a sustained and catastrophic attack on his (the child’s) ‘inner self’, which, in turn, so Lintz proposed, could lead to the disintegration of the child’s personality and the subsequent development of schizophrenia.
  • Bowlby (1907-1990) theorized that when the primary carer fails to healthily, emotionally bond (or, in Bowlby’s terminology attach‘) with the baby / young child the latter is put at high risk of developing mental health problems in later life.
  • R.D. Laing (1927-1989) proposed that schizophrenia is the result of the individual who develops it having grown up in a severely dysfunctional family.
  • Colin Ross (contemporary  psychiatrist) the most recent, significant proponent of the trauma model, emphasizes the harm done by abusive parenting by drawing attention to the fact the perpetrators of the abuse are the very people to whom the ‘child had to attach for survival.’ And he also states : ‘the basic conflict, the deepest pain, and the deepest source of symptoms is the fact that mom and dad’s behavior hurts, did not fit together, and did not make sense.’

eBook :

 

effects of childhood trauma ebook

Above eBook, The Devastating Effects Of Childhood Trauma, now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further information.

David Hosier BSc ; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

Psychotic Depression, Schizophrenia And Childhood Trauma Sub-Types

childhood trauma, schizophrenia, psychotic depression

childhood trauma, schizophrenia and psychotic depression

Sub-Types Of Childhood Trauma :

As we have seen from other articles I have published on this site, childhood trauma can be split into 4 main sub-types : emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect.

In this article, I briefly describe some of the main research findings in regard to the association between childhood trauma and risk of suffering from psychosis as an adult.

More specifically, I will examine which specific sub-types of childhood trauma may particularly increase an individual’s risk of developing psychosis as an adult, and if specific sub-types of childhood trauma are linked to increased risk of developing specific types of psychotic disorder as an adult and, if so, which specific types of psychotic disorder.

Study That Suggests Link Between Childhood Trauma And The Later Development Of Psychotic Depression :

A study carried out by Read et al. found that those individuals who had suffered from childhood trauma were more likely to have suffered from psychotic depression as adults. (Psychotic depression is similar to ‘ordinary’ major depression only there are additional symptoms of a psychotic nature – delusions, hallucinations and psychomotor agitation or psychomotor retardation).

More specifically, those who had experienced physical abuse or sexual abuse were found to have been particularly likely to have developed a psychotic depression later in life. (Of those in the study who had suffered from psychotic depression as adults, 59% had suffered physical abuse as children and 63% had suffered sexual abuse.)

childhood trauma, schizophrenia, psychotic depression

Studies That Suggests Link Between Childhood Trauma And The Later Development Of Schizophrenia :

A study (Compton et al) found that of those who had been sexually abused as children and of those who had been physically abused as children, 50% and 61% respectively developed schizophrenia-spectrum disorders later in life.

Another study (Rubins et al) found evidence suggesting that whilst sexual abuse in childhood is associated with the later development of depression and schizophrenia, physical abuse during childhood is associated with the later development of schizophrenia’ alone.

Finally, a study by Spence et al found that both physical and sexual abuse were associated with the later development of schizophrenia and, of these two associations, the association between physical abuse and the later development of schizophrenia was the strongest.

Type Of Psychotic Symptoms :

Studies (e.g. Read, 2008) that have focused on the specific psychotic symptoms suffered by those who develop a psychotic illness AND have a history of childhood trauma have found that the most common are AUDITORY HALLUCINATIONS and PARANOIA.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSC; PGDE(FAHE)

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