Category Archives: Whole Site (all 850+ Articles)

Over 850 free, concise articles about childhood trauma and its link to various psychological conditions, including : complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD), borderline personality disorder (and other personality disorders), anxiety disorders, depression, physical health conditions, psychosis, difficulties forming and maintaining relationships, addictions, dissociation and emotional dysregulation (such as dramatic mood swings and outbursts of rage). The site also comprises articles on treatments for childhood trauma and related mental health problems as well as articles on posttraumatic growth and other relevant topics. There is a search facility on the site to facilitate exploration of subjects covered.

How We Develop A Depressive Thinking Style As Children : The 3P Theory.

According to Martin Seligman, an expert in Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, a main process by which we develop a depressive thinking style as children is by a tendency to explain negative events as :

  • PERMANENT (i.e. not something that is transient and will pass).
  • PERVASIVE (i.e. generalizing. For example, failing an exam and saying ‘I’m a failure at everything.’)
  • PERSONAL (e.g. thinking : ‘It’s my fault my parents divorced).

Hence, I refer to it as the 3P Theory.

As time goes on, this depressive thinking style can become automatic and ingrained, putting the child at risk of developing fully-blown, clinical depression in later life and leading him/her to start to believe that it is his/her ‘fate’ or ‘destiny to be forever plagued by negative events. that are his/her fault and which s/he is powerless to overcome (also sometimes referred to as LEARNED HELPLESSNESS.

A NEUROLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE :

Furthermore, taking a neurological perspective, the child’s brain (particularly when very young) is very maleable and plastic ; this idea can be summed up by the well known expression :

Neurons that fire together, wire together.’

In other words, habitually thinking in this negative way can alter the brain physiologically, creating unhelpful neural circuits that make negative thinking patterns all the harder to break. Thus, a vicious circle can develop :

  • the more one thinks negatively, the more ingrained these neural circuits become in the brain which, in turn, lead to an even greater intensity of negative thinking…and so on…and so on…

HOW CAN THIS PROCESS BE PREVENTED?

In relation to this question, Martin Seligman made two main points :

  1. Children can be taught how to think more positively and optimistically.
  2. The protection afforded to the child by successfully teaching him / her more helpful ways to think (e.g. mote positively and optimistically) lasts for years.

In relation to this, you may be interested to view his book entitled : ‘The Optimistic Child’ by clicking below :

Resource :

BE LESS NEGATIVE PACK | SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

eBook :

Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Depression And Anxiety by David Hosier MSc.

Above eBook now available for immediate download from Amazon. Click here to view further information.

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

Video Summarizing NHS (UK) Information On Complex PTSD (Aug, 2019)

Childhood Trauma, Social Anxiety And The Spotlight Effect

I have written elsewhere on this website about how, if we experienced significant and protracted childhood trauma, we are at increased risk of developing social anxiety in adulthood. This is especially the case if we have been constantly criticized and denigrated during childhood by our parents / primary caretakers and we have internalized their rather less than flattering negative attitudes. Indeed, once such attitudes have been internalized our bad feelings about ourselves may become self-perpetuating and a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and we may even develop intense feelings of self-hatred.

SOCIAL ANXIETY AND THE SPOTLIGHT EFFECT :

According to DSM-5 (Diagnostic And Statistical Manual OF Mental Disorders, 5th EDITION, also known, informally, as the psychiatrist’s bible), the symptoms of social anxiety include :

DSM-5 criteria for social anxiety disorder include:

  • fear and anxiety (which is intense and persistent) about specific social situations because of a belief that if one enters such a social situation others will judge one and one may be embarrassed and humiliated.
  • anxiety or distress that impairs daily functioning.
  • anxiety that is disproportionate to the situation.
  • avoidance of social situations that may trigger anxiety.
  • intense fear and anxiety within social situations that tests endurance.

The SPOTLIGHT EFFECT refers to a psychological phenomenon whereby we are prone to believe that, in social situations, other people are paying us far more attention than they actually are.

Because of this, we are also liable to believe that we are being evaluated or judged far more than we actually are being (actually, mosr people are much too preoccupied with thinking about themselves and their own problems to be concerned about thinking about us).

The spotligh effect, then, is so-called because, especially if we are self-conscious, highly sensitive and lacking in self-confidence because of the way we have been treated in the past, in social situations we feel as if we are ‘in the spotlight’, whereas, as far as others are concerned, we are not (unless, of course, we happen to be a pop star in front of a massive crowd at Wembly Stadium which, to my profound regret, I never have been).

BARRY MANILOW :

On the subject of pop stars, in the 1990s an experiment (Gilovich) to do with the spotlight effect was conducted involving a group of random students from which one was, again randomly, selected.

This student was then asked to wear a ‘T-shirt with Barry Manilow’s face on it. Why Barry Manilow? Because in the 1990s he was considered very uncool.

Newly bedecked in his ‘Barry Manilow’ apparel, he was then required to mix with others who did not know he had been instructed to wear the potentially embarrassing garment rather than to have garbed himself out in it of his own volition.

After he had done this, he was asked to estimate how many of those with whom he had mixed had noticed his potentially embarrassing, new, popstar-themed casual wear. He estimated 50%. The actual figure was 25%.

WE ARE ALL THE ‘CENTER OF OUR OWN UNIVERSES’, BUT NOT THE ‘CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSES’ OF OTHERS.

Because we have no choice but to ‘live in our own heads’ each day and interpret the world from our own idiosyncratic point of view, a compelling, but entirely wrong, impression is created within our minds that we are the ‘center of the universe.’

CONCLUSION :

The feeling, then, that we are ‘in the spotlight’ in social aituations is merely an erroneous perception created by our own minds and it is useful for us to remember this next time we feel self-conscious in such situations.

And, anyway, we all secretly love Barry Manilow…don’t we??!!

RESOURCE :

OVERCOME SHYNESS AND SOCIAL ANXIETY | HYPNOSISDOWNLOADS CLICK HERE

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

Reducing The Effects Of Trauma With Neurocardiology

Neurocardiology is a recently developed area of academic, scientific research initiated by the researcher J. Andrew Armour M.D. , PhD. (1991) and is the study of how the nervous system and the cardiovascular system interact physiologically.

According to Demorree (2013), those suffering from psychological distress may be helped as more becomes understood about how the brain, nervous system and heart all interact and affect each other.

THE HEART – BRAIN CONNECTION :

The heart and the brain are connected by nerve fibers, and, of great interest and with important implications (described in the rest of this article):

  • 90 % of these connections go from the heart to the brain

whereas…

  • a mere 10% go from the brain to the heart

(For those who are interested, the nerve fibers that ascend to the brain from the heart are known as AFFERENT PATHWAYS, whereas the nerve fibers that descend from the brain to the heart are known as EFFERENT PATHWAYS).

According to Armour, the heart may consist of up to 40,000 neurons (neurons are mainly found in the brain and are nerve cells that convey information via electrical and chemical signals ; the brain itself consists of approximately 100 billion neurons and each one of these can connect up and communicate with thousands of other neurons which means (according to best estimates) the brain may contain between 100 trillion and 1,000 trillion (100,000,000,000 – 1,000,000,000,000) synapses (a synapse is an electrical or chemical connection between neurons).

But to get back to the heart. According to Armour, the heart (with its, admittedly, rather meagre number of neurons in comparison to the brain) effectively has its own nervous system that functions independently from the brain (sometimes referred to as the ‘intrinsic cardiac system‘ or, more informally, the ‘heart-brain‘).

Furthermore, according to Armour’s research, the signals that the heart sends up to the brain (i.e. via the ascending, or afferent, pathways) have an effect on the brain’s cognitive processes (i.e. processes related to thinking) and emotional processes (i.e. how we feel).

THE AFFERENT PATHWAY VIA WHICH THESE SIGNALS FROM THE HEART TRAVEL :

The pathway is as follows :

  • START : HEART
  • THEN TO : The brain’s THALAMUS (via VAGAL NERVE)
  • AND FINALLY ON TO : The brain’s AMYGDALA

HEART COHERENCE :

It has been theorized from within the discipline of cardioneurology that, due to the pathway described above, the level of ‘coherence’ of the heart‘ affects how we think, feel and view the world (particularly in relation to safe and secure we feel within it). ‘Coherence’ refers to the degree to which the heart is harmoniously synchronized with other systems in the body and is a measure of the pattern of the heart’s rhythm.

It has further been theorized (e.g. McCraty et al.) that emotions and feelings can originate from the heart (REMEMBER – THR HEART HAS UP TO 40,000 OF ITS OWN NEURONS CONSTITUTING AN INDEPENDENT NERVOUS SYSTEM) and improve the brain’s activity which in turn can create in the body a sense of equilibrium, order, synchronization and coherence, thus improving our sense of well-being.

HEART COHERENCE TRAINING :

Many studies have provided evidence that ‘coherence training’ consisting of intentional activation of positive and calming feelings, coupled with HRV (heart rate variabilty) coherence feedback, can improve the sense of well-being in a variety of populations including those suffering from psychological distress, in part, it is theorized, by helping us learn to generate a calming effect upon the brain’s amygdala (the brain’s amygdala is intimately involved with the body’s fight / flight’ response).

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

Transgenerational Trauma : How Effects Of Trauma Are Passed Down Generations

Those who experience severe trauma (including, of course, childhood trauma) and develop significant and chronic symptoms as a result (e.g. alcoholism, drug abuse or severe psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, complex PTSD and PTSD) may, in turn, traumatize their own children who then themselves develop psychological / emotional / behavioral problems which, in continuation of this destructive cycle, adversly affects their children…and so on. This domino effect refers to the phenomenon known as transgenerational trauma (transgenerational trauma is also sometimes referred to as intergenerational trauma).

This harmful cycle can be broken, however, if family members gain insight into the process and obtain effective therapy.

One well known study (Solomon et al., 1988) which elucidates the process of transgenerational trauma has demonstrated that even if a child brought up by a parent who is suffering from PTSD manages to reach adulthood in a state of psychological health, s/he is still at greater risk of developing PTSD in later life as a result of a severely traumatic experience than an individual who was brought up by parents free of PTSD (all else being equal).

INTERGENERATIONAL TRAUMA AND EPIGENETICS :

It has also been theorized that the effects of trauma may be passed on due to a process known as EPIGENETICS ; this process involves genes being ‘switched on’ or ‘switched off’ as a result particular experiences. In this way, severe trauma may set off such epigentic changes which are, in turn, inherited by the individual’s child / children.

An animal study that helps to illustrate how the process of epigenetics works involved mice that were given electric shocks whenever they were exposed to the smell of cherries. In this way, they ‘learned’ to fear cherries whenever they smelt them, even when the electric shocks were no longer administered ; this is known as conditioned fear.

It was found that, through epigenetic processes, the offspring of these mice also showed signs of fear whenever they were exposed to the smell of cherries, as did the offspring of these offspring, even though neither of these two latter generations of mice had NOT been conditioned to fear the smell of cherries. In other words, the study suggests that the epigenetic changes caused by the conditioned fear of cherries in the first generation of mice were passed on to the subsequent two generations.

TREATMENT :

Methods that can be useful to help break the destructive cycle of transgenerational trauma include :

  • A) providing families that are in danger of getting caught up in the transgenerational trauma process with appropriate therapy such as Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS). Key strategies employed in such therapy are as follows : repairing dysfunctional communication patterns within the family ; treatment that is culturally informed, and allowing trauma within the family to be therapeutically expressed and articulated (Sells, 2018). You can read more about Sell’s approach to treating the traumatized child using the family systems approach in his excellent book : Treating the Traumatized Child: A Step-by-Step Family Systems Approach. (In relation to Family Systems Theory, you may also be interested to read my previously published article entitled : Family Systems Theory And The Family Scapegoat).
  • B) educating the public about this pernicious process in order to help them develop insight, which, in turn, can encourage positive changes.
  • C) training more healh professionals, in particular those working directly with those suffering from trauma, in the understanding of how the effects of trauma may be passed down the generations and how to intervene effectively in families in which this process is in danger of being played out.

eBook : A Beginner’s Guide To Childhood Trauma.

a-beginner's-guide-to-childhood-trauma

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

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

BPD, The Love-Hate Relationship And Neuroscience

love=hate

We have seen from several other articles that I have published on this site that one of the hallmarks of borderline personality disorder is the tendency of sufferers of this devastating psychiatric condition to flip suddenly from idealizing / feeling love towards individuals and demonizing / feeling hate towards them (which, of course, is a major reason why BPD sufferers also tend to have severe difficulties with their interpersonal relationships). This tendency is sometimes referred to as ‘SPLITTING.’

Intriguingly, a study (Zeki et al.) carried out at University College, London, may help to elucidate this tendency to suddenly ‘switch’ betwen loving and hating the same person from a neurological perspective (i.e. in terms of brain’s physical organization and biological functioning).

THE STUDY :

The study invoved 17 individuals who had their brain scanned under two conditions :

CONDITION 1 : Brain scans were taken whilst the individuals were looking at photos of people they loved.

CONDITION 2 : Brain scans were taken of the same individuals in Condition 1 whilst they were looking at photos of people the claimed to hate.

NERVOUS CIRCUITS IN THE BRAIN :

Researchers found that some of the brain’s nervous / neural circuits involved in generating feelings of hate are ALSO INVOLVED IN GENERATING FEELINGS OF LOVE.

More specifically :

The region of the brain known as the putaman seems to be activated both when an individual is experiencing feelings of love and when s/he is experiencing feelings of hate including disgust, contempt and aggression.

The region of the brain known as the insula also seems to be activated both when an individual is experiencing feelings of love and when s/he is experiencing feelings of hate,

THE CEREBRAL CORTEX :

Furthermore, research findings suggest that regions of the cerebral cortex are deactivated both when an individual is experiencing feelings of love (the regions deactivated when we are experiencing feelings of love are involved in reasoning and judgment) and also when s/he is experiencing feelings of hate.

However, it should also be noted that fewer regions in this part of the brain are deactivated when the person is experiencing feelings of hate.

This finding may help to explain the neurological underpinnings of the origin of the expression that ‘love is blind’ (i.e. when feeling intense love, all reasoning and judgment tends to go out of the window and we are, to put it colloquially, liable to be led irrationally by the heart rather than rationally by the mind).

Furthermore, the fact that fewer regions of this brain region seem to be deactivated when people experience feeling of hate may be a kind of safely mechanism to prevent them from, for example, resorting to excessive, unnecessary and perhaps, ultimately, self-defeating violence in response to these feelings.

Indeed, the author of the study suggests that the cerebral cortex is less deacivated when people feel hate than it is when people feel love because when they feel hate they need to be able to reason effectively so that they can be sufficiently calculating when it comes to exacting revenge! Such calculation, more relevant to our ancient ancestors, may involve judging if a physical fight could potentially be won and what it would be necessary to do in any such fight to win it – alternatively, it might be necessary to judge whether a violent attack on an opponent will backfire as said opponent is of vastly superior physical strength.

One can, perhaps, tentatively infer from this that evolutionary processes have determined that we are less rational in response to feelings of love than we are in response to feelings of hate.

In any event, it seems the fine line between love and hate, and the propensity, especially in the case of BPD sufferers, to flip suddenly between the two has a neurological basis.

RESOURCE :

Increase Your Emotional Intelligence | Self Hypnosis Downloads.

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

Attitudes Of Medical Professionals Towards BPD Sufferers

childhood-trauma

We have seen from other articles I have published on this site that if we suffered significant and protracted childhood trauma we are, as adults, at increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Many specialists in the field are of the view that of all psychiatric conditions, BPD causes its sufferers the greatest amount of mental pain and anguish – indeed, this is borne out by the generally accepted statistic that approximately 1 in 10 BPD sufferers will eventually kill themselves.

It is particularly tragic, therefore, that it seems that there still exists a great deal of prejudice towards BPD sufferers. And I don’t just mean amongst lay-people who lack understanding of, and education about, the condition, but also amongst those who should know better : namely those who work within the medical profession itself and are responsible for their care and safety.

This unfortunate state of affairs is exacerbated further when one considers that many BPD sufferers have been demonized throughout their lives (including, often, by one or both of their parents) and have come to internalize such demonization, seeing themselves as intrinsically and irredeemably ‘bad’ ; so to meet with similar disparaging attitudes amongst those to whom one turns, often in absolute desperation, for support can be devastating and can potentially tip BPD sufferers over the precipice (most BPD sufferers are perpetually living their lives on the edge of said precipice most, or all, of the time).

RESEARCH PROVIDING EVIDENCE OF STIGMATIZATION OF BPD SUFFERERS WITHIN THE MEDICAL PROFESSION :

STUDY 1 :

Reseachers (Black et al.) surveyed 706 clinicians who were responsible for treating BPD patients and found that a large minority expressed a preference not to work with such patients.

STUDY 2 :

An Italian study (Lanfredi et al.) investigated caring attitudes towards BPD sufferers amongst 860 mental health professionals (these included social workers, educators working in social health, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists). It was found that :

  • nurses and social workers scored significantly lower on caring attitudes towards BPD sufferers than psychologists, psychiatrists and social health educators.
  • those mental health professionals who had more years experience in mental health and those who had had training in working with BPD patients, overall, scored higher in terms of their caring attitudes towards BPD sufferers compared to those with fewer years of experience / no training in working with BPD sufferers.

The researchers who conducted the above study concluded that training in working with BPD sufferers should be targeted at those clinicians who are less experienced and professional groups for whom such training is less accessible.

STUDY 3 :

A study carried out by Imbeau et al., looked at the attitude of General Physicians and Family Medicine Residents towards patients with a BPD diagnosis.

In total, the study involved 35 General Physicians and 40 Family Medicine Residents. Their attitudes towards their BPD patients was measured using the ATTITUDES TOWARD PEOPLE WITH BPD SCALE (ABPDS; Bouchard, 2001).

This scale is divided into 2 subcales :

SUBSCALE ONE : COMFORT WHEN INTERACTING WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS BPD.

SUBSCALE TWO : POSITIVE PERCEPTIONS ABOUT BPD.

It was found that the attitudes of General Physicians towards people with BPD was similar to the attitudes of mental health professionals towards people with BPD.

However, it was also found that Family Medicine Residents’ attitudes towards people with BPD were less positive than the attitudes displayed by General Physicians and mental health professionals.

Furthermore, and reinforcing the findings of Lanfredi et al’s study, it was found that less experienced clinicians had less positive attitudes towards BPD sufferers than their more experienced colleagues.

This also serves to emphasize the conclusion drawn from Lanfredi et al’s study, namely that training of clinicians dealing with people with BPD needs to be a key focus to help ensure these highly vulnerable and anguished patients receive the treatment they deserve.

STUDY 4 :

A Spanish study (Castell) also found negative attitudes within the medical profession and, like the studies cited above, also stressed the importance of training such mental health professionals so that the gain a better understanding of the causes of, nature of, and treatment for borderline personality disorder.

OTHER USEFUL ARTICLES :

You may also wish to read my previously published articles about dialectical behavior therapy, other treatment options for BPD , BPD and psychodynamic therapy and BPD and remission.

eBook :

bpd ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download : CLICK HERE.

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

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