Many children who grow up in dysfunctional family homes find themselves living in a state of hypervigilance, never knowing how their parents are going to respond to them at any given time (for example, this is often the
Before babies and young children are able to learn through the use of language, they learn through the information they receive through their senses (i.e. taste, touch, smell, sight and sound) and by integrating this information in meaningful ways.
The main part of the brain that is responsible for putting together this sensory information in ways that facilitate learning is the CEREBELLUM, located at the back of the head (see diagram below).
How Childhood Trauma Can Adversely Affect The Development Of The Cerebellum :
Recent research has served to emphasize the crucial relevance of the body when considering both how severe traumatic experiences can adversely affect us AND how we can treat such adverse effects (including posttraumatic stress disorder).
One very important finding in relation to this is that traumatic experiences can lead to chronic excess tension in the skeletal muscles. And, because the body and the mind are so intimately connected, this, in turn, can make us hypersensitive to stress to such a degree that we may find even very minor stressors create in us feelings of overwhelming anxiety.
Indeed, as the role of the body in how traumatic experiences affect us (especially if we are suffering from PTSD) becomes better understood there is a concomitant increase in interest in supplementing psychological therapies to treat responses to trauma with somatic (physical) therapies.
Neurogenic Tremors :
Tremors are a natural, automatic / instinctual response to anxiety, fear, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or any shock to the nervous system. This response has evolved because, when the
The Brain’s Two Hemispheres :
The brain is split into two hemispheres (or halves) referred to, simply enough, as the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere.
What Is The Difference Between The Brain’s Left And Right Hemisphere?
In terms of their functions, the LEFT HEMISPHERE is associated with :
- logical and analytical thought processes
- language (including written language)
- mathematics / numerical skills
whilst the RIGHT HEMISPHERE is associated with :
- intuitive thought processes
- creativity / appreciation of art / appreciation of music
- holistic thought
- empathetic feelings with others
- emotions and emotional attachment to others
- feelings of trust
- ‘reading’ the emotional state of others from their facial expressions
Childhood trauma may accelerate the ageing process : this article sheds light on the possible reasons.
Research conducted by Puterman (University of Columbia, Canada), a specialist in stress and ageing, suggests that those of us who suffered significant trauma and consequential chronic feelings of stress as children may :
a) be more prone to disease and illness as adults
b) live shorter than average lives
Why Might This Be?
According to Puterman, this may be due to the adverse effects the stress of our childhoods had on our body’s cells.
More specifically, Puterman suggests that early, protracted exposure to stress may shorten our telomeres (telomeres are located on the end of our chromosomes).
Above : Telomeres under the microscope.
Above : Childhood trauma may prematurely age telomeres.
Why Do Shortened Telomeres Matter?
Telomeres serve to protect our chromosomes and, if
Unfortunately, as well as psychological effects, if we have developed complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) as a result of our childhood experiences (click here to read my article on the difference between PTSD and CPTSD), the condition can also give rise to adverse physical effects (i.e. bodily/somatic effects).
The main reason for this is that, as sufferers of CPTSD, we tend to be chronically locked into a state of distressing hyper-arousal (which psychologists often refer to as
Severe childhood trauma leading to serious conditions like borderline personality disorder reduces life expectancy, on average, by 19 years (read my article on this by clicking here).
WHAT THE INFOGRAPHIC BELOW SHOWS :
Serious trauma affects neurological (brain) development (click
Find resources to reduce stress by clicking banner above.
If we have experienced a traumatic childhood, it is frequently the case that our capacity to deal with stress as adults is seriously diminished (click here to read one of my articles about this).
When we experience stress, it almost invariably involves unpleasant physical symptoms; these include :
– dry mouth/throat
– upset stomach
– frequent urges to pass urine
– muscular twitches
A vast amount of research has been carried out on the potentially devastating psychological impact of childhood trauma upon the individual. Far less, however, has been conducted on such trauma’s effect on physical health (or, as it’s also termed, psychobiological effects).
This article aims to briefly explain how childhood trauma can reduce life expectancy by 19 years but, also, why this need not be the case.
Childhood trauma clearly puts the child who experiences it under great stress; the more protracted and intense the traumas, and the more traumas the child suffers, all else being equal, the more stress is inflicted upon the child.
A recent study has shown that an especially traumatic childhood (in which the child experiences several types of trauma)