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Effects Of Trauma According To Age (Short Video).

The video below is a summary of the original, wriiten article published on this site entitled : Reactions To Trauma According To Age.

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

Childhood Trauma : Some Important Facts And Statistics

childhood-trauma-facts

In the United States, about 50% of children experience at least one traumatic event during their childhood.

childhood-trauma-facts

Many of these live with chronic, perpetual and relentless trauma (e.g. living in a family in which there is ongoing abuse) thus denying the child periods of time for recovery between events (which can lead to developmental trauma / complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD).

After a traumatic life event, the vast majority nof children will experience severe distress ; however, in the case of complex postraumatic stress disorder, effects may be considerably delayed.

The more social and family support the child has, the more likely it is that he / she will be able to make a recovery. However, many children will also require clinical intervention. Sadly, at the current time, the majority of children who require clinical intervention do not receive it. This is, in part, due to the fact that childhood trauma frequently goes unacknowledged.

The child’s reaction to trauma is affected by the context in which it occurs.

How the child reacts to the trauma will be affected by his / her age and level of maturity.

The child’s response, and adjustment, to trauma can involve several stages.

Individuals who have been exposed to severe, ongoing, chronic trauma during childhood are at high risk of developing an SERIOUSLY IMPAIRED CAPACITY to cope and deal with subsequent stress in their lives.

Early life trauma can reprogram our DNA.

When a child is affected by trauma his / her parents / family are also affected and how they respond, and how they interact with the child, will also affect how the child reacts to the traumatic experience.

The child’s developmental level will affect how s / he responds to the trauma.

The culture in which the child exists will affect how s / he responds to the trauma.

FURTHER INFORMATION :

FOR MORE STATISICS ON CHILDHOOD TRAUMA : CLICK HERE.

FOR STATISTICS ON CHILD MENTAL HEALTH : CLICK HERE.

EFFECTS ON US OF TRAUMA / ENVIRONMENT VERSUS GENES РTHE STATISTICS  : CLICK HERE.

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

 

Flashbacks, Memory And The Prefrontal Cortex

ABOVE : SHORT VIDEO SUMMARY (2 MINUTES) OF MAIN POINTS OF ARTICLE.

We have seen from numerous other articles that I have published on this site how severe and protracted childhood trauma can, in some cases, lead to the development of complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) in later life and that one possible symptom of this condition is the experiencing of FLASHBACKS.

Flashbacks involve the individual who suffers from them re-experiencing and reliving traumatic events involuntarily in such an intense and vivid way (sometimes involving hallucinations) that it feels like they are actually happening in the here-and-now.

Flashbacks are generally triggered by something that reminds the individual (on a conscious or unconscious level) of the original traumatic event, even very tandentially.

FLASHBACKS, MEMORY AND THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX :

A study conducted in 2008 involving sufferers of disorders related to stress has helped to cast some light upon what is happening in the brains of individuals who are prone to experiencing flashbacks.

First, it was found that these individuals’ ability to perform general memory tasks was inferior in comparison to the performance on the same tasks by healthy individuals.

Second, when those suffering from a stress-related condition were asked by the researchers to carry out a ‘suppression task’ (a task in which they were required to attempt NOT to think about something) they demonstrated LESS ACTIVITY IN THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX than did the healthy individuals when instructed to undertake the same task.

From this finding it was inferred that these individuals’ (i.e. those suffering from a stress-related disorder) underactive prefrontal cotices interfered with their ability to prevent traumatic memories breaking through into conscious awareness.

Learning ‘GROUNDING TECHNIQUES’ can help individuals cope with their flashbacks (grounding techniques involve using the five senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell – to reconnect with the present) although many may also require the services of an appropriately trained, qualified and experienced therapist, paticularly if suffering from disorders such as PTSD or complex PTSD.

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

Childhood Trauma Leading To Over-Dominant Brain Stem

ABOVE : 3 MINUTE SUMMARY VIDEO OF THE ARTICLE BELOW.

A Simple Overview Of The Brain’s Structure And Development :

A simplified way of describing the structure of the brain is to think of it as comprising three main regions that develop in the following order from birth to a person’s early or mid-twenties.

FIRST TO DEVELOP : The brain stem and mid-brain :

Main functions : Sensory / motor and basic survival mechanisms (‘fight / flight’)

SECOND TO DEVELOP : The limbic brain :

Main functions : Emotional development, behavior and attachment

THIRD TO DEVELOP : The cortical brain :

Main function : inhibition, thinking, language, planning, decision-making, abstract thought and learning.

CIHLDHOOD TRAUMA AND THE BRAIN :

As described above, it is the brain stem’s function to preserve our safety in dangerous situations (by physiologically preparing us for ‘fight or flight‘).

However, when a chid has been traumatized over an extended period and has been excessively exposed to frightening situations, the brain stem can become overative and over-dominant so that the brain is on a constant state of ‘red-alert’ (giving rise to feelings of hypervigilance, edginess, agitation and constant fear) even in situations which are, in objective terms, very safe.

IN SHORT, THE CHILD BECOMES ‘LOCKED INTO SURVIVAL MODE’, primed to lash out (figuratively or literally) or run away (again, figuratively or literally). And, of course, in the case of the former, this can lead to him / her being wrongly labelled as ‘bad’ whereas, in fact, his or her behavior is essentially due to what can reasonably described as brain injury incurred due to the traumatic events to which s/he has been subjected over a ptotracted period.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT AND ASSOCIATED PROBLEMS :

Such children are, in effect, ‘stuck’ at the first stage of brain development shown above (i.e. the brain stem / mid brain developmental stage).

Unfortunately, this means the child is not only locked into feeling constantly hyperalert to anticipated danger and profoundly unsafe, but can suffer from other significant impairments (see below):

OTHER PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH BEING STUCK AT THE STAGE OF BRAIN STEM DEVELOPMENT :

Being locked into the brain stem development stage also prevents the higher regions of the brain (i.e. the limbic brain and the cortical brain, as described above) from developing properly, and, therefore, also from functioning properly.

This can mean that the child is unable to form attachments or control his/her emotions (due to the damage done to the ‘limbic brain‘ ) and is also unable properly to perform the functions of the ‘cortical brain’, including : inhibition (leading to impulsive behavior), planning, decision-making, reflecting and learning. Such problems can manifest themselves in numerous ways, including being unable to form friendships at school, ‘mis-behaving’ in class and learning difficulties)

THERAPIES :

Bottom-Up’ (as opposed to ‘Top-Down’) therapies such as SENSORIMOTOR PSYCHOTHERAPY can be of benefit to individuals affected by ‘brain stem’ associated problems and it is generally agreed that these problems should be addressed prior to addressing problems associated with the ‘limbic brain’ and ‘cortical brain.’

There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that the traumatized brain may also be hekped to recover using a treatment known as neurofeedback.

eBook :

How Childhood Trauma Can Physically Damage The Developing Brain (And How These Effects Can Be Reversed).

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

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

The Manipulative Parent

There are many ways in which the manipulative parent may manipulate their offspring, including:

  1. emotional blackmail
  2.  verbal aggression
  3. implicit or explicit threats
  4. deceit
  5. use of the silent treatment’
  6. control through money or material goods
  7. positive reinforcement of a behavior which is damaging to the child
  8. coercion
  9. behaving in a passive-aggressive manner
  10. projection
  11. denial of obviously destructive behavior
  12. gaslighting
  13. causing the child to believe that s/he will only be loved by complying with the parent’s wishes at all times; in other words, there is an ABSENCE of unconditional love (indeed, some parents are emotionally ill-equipped to love their children).
  14. causing the child to feel excessive guilt and ashamed for failing to live up to the parent’s expectations and demands.
  15. with-holding love as a form of punishment to cause emotional distress
  16. direct or implied threats of physical punishment
  17. making the child feel s/he is intrinsically bad for not always bending to the parent’s will
  18. Financial manipulation. Some parents may manipulate their child using money for a whole host of reasons, including spoiling the child and then accusing him of ingratitude ;  as a tacit way of keeping the child quiet about abuse ; to compensate the child for emotional neglect and ameliorate feelings of guilt ; to make the child feel indebted ; to increase the child’s dependence ; to induce feelings of guilt in the child either explicitly or implicitly ; as a tool to regulate the child’s behavior ; as an expression of the parent’s superiority and contempt for the child ; as a superficial way of acting ‘the good parent.’
  19. making the child believe he is uncaring for not fully meeting the parent’s needs

Such parents may also be very controlling ; if our parents were overly controlling the characteristics they may have displayed include the following :

  1. Did not show respect for, or value, our reasonable ideas and opinions
  2. Imposed over-exacting demands on us and refused to listen to even the most reasonable and considered objections
  3. Were preoccupied with criticizing us, whilst minimizing or ignoring our good points
  4. Were excessively concerned about our table manners (for example, failing to hold a knife and fork correctly)
  5. Were excessively rigid about what we eat
  6. Discouraged us from developing independence of thought, especially if it led to a mismatch between our opinions, views and values and those of the parent
  7. Imposed excessive demands on us regarding household rules, duties and regulations which we were not permitted negotiate even if any reasonable person would regard them as inappropriate
  8. Never admit to being in the wrong, even in very clear-cut circumstances
  9. Were excessively and unreasonably controlling regarding our appearance; not respecting our wishes to express our individuality (for example, choosing all our clothes without any interest in our opinion about them).
  10. Did not respect our choice of career and made demands on us to reconsider and instead pursue a career the parent regarded as more suitable even when this would make us very unhappy.
  11. Expected us to reach standards which were impossible to attain and berated us when we inevitably, in their eyes, failed.
  12. Did not allow us to voice reasonable objections (for example, about the family dynamics and how they caused us unhappiness).
  13. Were unnecessarily rigid regarding who we ‘ought’ to associate with in a way that reflected prejudice and discrimination against individuals we wished to associate with
  14. Tried to make us suppress perfectly normal emotions such as anger, fear and unhappiness.
  15. Violated our privacy (for example, searched our bedroom for our personal diary without a good cause).
  16. Tried to control us with emotional blackmail, psychological manipulation, intimidation and threats.

Whilst some parental attempts to manipulate and control are fairly blatant, as can be seen from the above examples, some are far mote subtle. This means that when we were young we may not have been aware that we were being manipulated; we may only come to realize it, in retrospect, with the extra knowledge we have gained as adults.

Let’s now look in more detail at some psychological techniques a manipulative parent might make use of in order to gain power and control over his/ her offspring :

manipulation-techniques

Techniques That Manipulative Parents May Use:

1) Preventing the victim from expressing negative emotions:

With this technique, the parent maintains that it is not what they themselves have done that is the problem – according to them, the ‘real’ problem is the offspring’s reaction to what they have done.

For example, according to the manipulative parent, if the offspring is distressed and upset by what the parent has done then this is due to the ‘fact’ that the offspring is oversensitive.

Or, if the offspring is angry about how s/he has been treated by the parent, the parent may say that the offspring’s anger is caused by him/her being so unforgiving.

A final example: if the offspring feels a desperate need to express how hurt s/he is by the parent’s behaviour, and so keeps bringing the subject up in an attempt to understand and process what has happened, the parent may high-handedly dismiss the victim as ‘sounding like a broken record’.

In such cases, then, it can be seen that the manipulative parent can be skilfully adept at redirecting blame onto the victim and invalidating his/ her claims.

In this way, the offspring is forced to suppress powerful emotions at the expense of his/ her mental health – such suppression actually has the effect of intensifying the emotions, and, therefore, it is only a matter of time before they burst out again, their vigour redoubled. This process will frequently lead to the development of a vicious cycle.

2) Blaming the victim :

For example, a father who hits his son may claim that it was the son’s behaviour that ‘drove him to it’

Or a drunk parent may blame his/ her habitual drinking on the stress of bringing up the offspring.

In my own case, my mother threw me out of the home when I was thirteen. Due to my ‘behaviour’, apparently. And, whenever I cried (pretty much a daily occurrence around this age, admittedly), her favourite cutting, demeaning and belittling response (and the contemptuous tone in which it was delivered is still ringing in my ears, decades later) was that I should ‘turn off the waterworks.’

3) Inappropriate personal disclosure:

Prior to my forced eviction when I had only just become a teenager, my mother had essentially used me as her personal counsellor; indeed, she used to refer to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’. During these, for want of a better term, ‘counselling sessions’ she would very frequently discuss with me the problems she was invariably experiencing with the latest man she was seeing (particularly one who was highly unstable and frequently in and out of jail and lived with us for two years, but that’s another story).

She would also discuss her sex-life. She once told me, for example, that, despite the fact that she had been married to my father for about fifteen years (before they divorced when I was eight), she had only ever had sex with him twice. As she has two children (I have an older brother) this was highly unlikely (and subsequently transpired to be a falsehood). Manipulators often disclose such inappropriately intimate details to encourage the other person to feel close to them, which, in turn, makes the victim easier to take advantage of and exploit.

4) Empty words (talk is cheap):

Examples of this include:

I’d make any sacrifice for you.’

or

Your happiness is my number one priority.’

or

I think about you all the time.’

However, the manipulator’s actions fail to substantiate these claims time and time again. Indeed, the contrast between his/her words and actions is depressingly stark. Empty words, of course, cost the manipulative parent nothing but s/he knows that by using them s/he can gain great power and control over the offspring, even making the victim feel ungrateful and indebted to him/her. It can also cause mental illness in the victim by invalidating his/her own perceptions and making him/ her question his/her very sense of reality. Indeed, it places the victim in a double bind.

5) Minimising :

For example, I was always told I was overstating the negative effect my childhood had on my psychological well-being (I have since discovered, however, that I was dramatically understating it).

Minimisation, then, involves the manipulative parent telling the offspring that they are essentially ‘making mountains out of molehills’, even ( or, indeed, especially), when the accusation is grotesquely inaccurate.

6) Lying by commission or by omission : the former refers to saying something that is not true whilst the latter refers to withholding a significant part of the truth so as to generate a false impression.

7) Rationalization : providing a false explanation for behavior which would otherwise reflect badly on the person.

8) Selective attention / selective inattention : this involves only focusing on what supports the manipulator’s case whilst studiously ignoring anything that undermines it.

9) Diversion / Evasion : this involves not responding directly to questions but instead going off at tangents, being vague and attempting to steer awkward conversations away from anything that might cast the manipulator in a negative light.

10) Covert Intimidation : this involves making implied, subtle threats to force the victim into a defensive position.

11) Placing The Victim In A Bad Light : if the victim does indeed go on to the defensive, due to the manipulator employing ‘covert intimidation’ tactics (see number 10, directly above), the manipulator may take the opportunity to ‘shine the spotlight’ on the victim and claim that his/her (what is actually defensive) behavior is abusive, thus cunningly turning the tables.

12) False / Controlled Anger : the manipulator might fake anger to intimidate the victim, ward off suspicion (e.g. by using ‘outraged’ phrases like, ‘how dare you suggest such a thing!’ or close down the discussion / argument.

13) Seduction : this involves manipulating the victim by using flattery, charm and praise and gaining his/her trust and loyalty.

14) Scapegoating.

15) Projection : this involves the manipulator attributing his/her own faults to the victim.

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

What Is Your Attachment Style And How Does It Affect Your Relationships?

ABOVE VIDEO : ATTACHMENT THEORY (3 MINUTES).

ATTACHMENT THEORY AND THE ‘MATERNAL SENSITIVITY HYPOTHESIS’:

According to attachment theory, the way we react in our relationships with others, specifically in relation to our reactions to being hurt by, threatened by or separated from significant others, depends largely upon our ATTACHMENT STYLE.

Ainsworth (one of the most significant researchers to have worked in this field) proposes that the particular type of attachment style we develop is mainly determined by how our mothers behaved towards us, particularly in terms to sensitivity and attunement to our needs, moods and feelings, when we are infants; Ainsworth first proposed this idea in 1978 and it is known as the ‘MATERNAL SENSITIVITY HYPOTHESIS.’

THE FIVE ATTACHMENT STYLES :

Five main types of attachment styles have been identified; these are :

  • SECURE ATTACHMENT
  • AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT
  • AMBIVALENT ATTACHMENT
  • DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT
  • REACTIVE ATTACHMENT

WHAT KIND OF INTERACTION BETWEEN MOTHER AND INFANT GIVES RISE TO THESE FIVE ATTACHMENT STYLES?

  1. SECURE ATTACHMENT : this results when the mother is well attuned, sensitive and responsive to the infant’s needs, moods and feelings
  2. AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT : this results when the mother is too frequently unavailable to, and rejecting of, the infant.
  3. AMBIVALENT ATTACHMENT : this results when the mother behaves inconsistently, and sometimes too intrusively, towards the infant.
  4. DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT : this results when the mother ignores or fails to understand the infant’s needs and behave in a frightening and traumatizing way towards the infant.
  5. REACTIVE ATTACHMENT : this results when the mother is extremely unattached or has a disrupted nervous system.

HOW DO EACH OF THESE FIVE ATTACHMENT STYLES AFFECT THE INDIVIDUAL’S ADULT RELATIONSHIPS?

  1. SECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE : able to form positive, meaningful relationships, form healthy boundaries and be empathetic.
  2. AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT STYLE : avoids emotional intimacy, aloof, distant, rigid, critical and intolerant.
  3. AMBIVALENT ATTACHMENT STYLE : anxious, insecure, unpredictable, erratic, blames others but can be charming.
  4. DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT STYLE : insensitive to feelings of others, prone to explosive rage, abusive, craves security but unable to trust others.
  5. REACTIVE ATTACHMENT STYLE : unable to form meaningful, positive relationships.

Our adult attachment style is so closely related to early life relationships because these (consciously and unconsciously) act as models for how we expect others will treat us and behave towards us ; in other words, we are essentially ‘programmed’ by these early relationships to perceive, and behave towards, others in ways that reflect them ; in this way, we unwittingly replicate our old patterns of behavior when interacting with others in the present, especially intimate partners and offspring.

RESOURCE :

Insecurity in Relationships | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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

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Childhood Trauma And Arrested Self-Development

Early life trauma can interfere with, or arrest, the development of the self.

The normal development of self involves the following stages.

  1. Approximately 6 months : the capacity for self-observation develops
  2. Approximately 12 months : the capacity for symbolic thinking becomes well established as does a ‘sense of self’
  3. Approximately 7 to 11 years : the capacity for concrete operational thinking becomes established, as does an intense emotional life. Also, at this stage, the child becomes increasingly concerned about his / her interaction with his / her peers.
  4. Adolescence : the capacity for concrete operational thinking continues to develop as does the ability to negotiate increasingly complex and nuanced social interactions
  5. Early Adulthood : concerns turn to intimacy and family.
  6. Mid-Life : concerns extend to wider society.
  7. Later Life : world view / understanding deepens ; metaphysical concerns may become increasingly profound.

However, those who have experienced significant and protracted childhood trauma FAIL TO DEVELOP A STRONG SENSE OF SELF / SELF-IDENTITY, especially if they developed, because of their upbringing, an ANXIOUS ATTACHMENT STYLE (Main et al., 2002). An anxious attachment style can develop when an emotionally unstable parent (particularly a parent prone to explosive outbursts of rage) causes their child to have to be hyper-alert / hyper-vigilant regarding this parent’s unpredictably changing moods as a form of self-preservation (my own mother’s emotions fluctuated wildly which had an effect on me that made me able to sense how she was feeling from the minutest change in her expression, intonation or body language, and, to this day, I am able instantly to pick up on the most subtle of people’s changes in mood via tacit signs to which others may be oblivious).

Sadly, too, children brought up by such parents are unconsciously indoctrinated into developing the core belief that their own, personal concerns, worries, anxieties and needs are, at best, secondary to those of their emotionally unstable parent. Whilst, on the surface, the child / young person may appear to be ‘coping’ with such impossibly onerous responsibilities, there is often an extremely heavy emotional price to be paid in later life (in relation to this, you may be interested in reading my previously published article entitled :  Why Can The Effects Of Childhood Trauma Be Delayed?

THE THREE MAIN WAYS IN WHICH CHILDHOOD TRAUMA CAN IMPAIR THE DEVELOPMENT OF SELF :

There are three main ways in which childhood trauma can impair the development of self; these are as follows :

  1. No strong sense of self is developed ; instead, a ‘false self’ is created that tends to take its cues about how to behave from the expectations of others, so lacks autonomy, authenticity and consistency.
  2. A less weak sense of self than the above type, but still a very fragile sense of self which is kept hidden due to a sense of shame and of being judged and rejected.
  3. This third type of self develops as a result of an emotionally over-involved parent / primary caretaker. The self is undeveloped as the individual has grown up to ‘learn’ (on an unconscious level) that s/he must be hypervigilant to the parent’s / primary caretaker’s needs (and, by extension, as s/he gets older, to the needs of others – such individuals may become ‘chronic caretakers’ of others whilst remaining neglectful of his / her own needs and lacking in assertiveness and in a sense of personal boundaries.

RESOURCES :

Assertiveness Training | Self Hypnosis Downloads

The Real You | Self Hypnosis Downloads

Setting Boundaries | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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