Category Archives: Ptsd/cptsd Articles

Neuroplasticity : 3 Ways Brain Can Physically Recover From Trauma

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THE BRAIN AND NEUROPLASTICITY :

I have previously written articles on how early life trauma can adversely affect the physical development of the brain leading to, for example, psychological difficulties in adulthood such as finding it hard to control our emotions and finding it difficult to cope with stress (eg click here).

I have also written about how the brain can, to some extent, physically repair itself (eg click here) by a process known as NEUROPLASTICITY.

In this article I want to take a more detailed look at how neuroplasticity might work to enable our brains to overcome the physical effects on it of our childhood traumatic experiences.

We now know that the brain’s circuitory is not, as used to be thought, ‘hard wired’, but changes over the course of our lives, INCLUDING ADULTHOOD, as a result of new experiences. Specific ways in which these physical changes to the brain might occur in adulthood include :

– NEUROGENESIS

– SYNAPTIC PLASTICITY

– SYNAPTOGENESIS

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BELOW : DIAGRAM OF A NEURON AND ITS CONNECTIONS.

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Let’s consider each of these in turn :

Neurogenesis:

Studies on rats have conclusively demonstrated that, over the course of their adult lives, they can grow new brain cells (neurons) which has the effect of changing their ability to process information. However, it is still not certain whether the same process occurs in humans – further research needs to be conducted.

Synaptic plasticity :

This refers to the fact that a process takes place in the adult brain whereby connections between neurons (brain cells) become strengthened and enhanced. Many studies have confirmed this beneficial process.

Synaptogenesis :

This refers to the process by which NEW connections are formed between neurons (brain cells). Studies show the process definitely occurs in animals, and it is likely that it also occurs in humans.

TRAINING THE BRAIN IN ORDER TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEUROPLASTICITY :

Practicing particular activities has been shown in studies to strengthen connections between the brain cells (neurons) in the specific brain region which is involved in the execution of that task.

The therapy MINDFULNESS takes advantage of this, improving our ability to relax and conquer stress and anxiety (click here to read my article on mindfulness).

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A famous study showing how neuroplasticity works involved looking at London taxi drivers who trained intensely for many years to learn the layout of the streets of London. By the time they had completed the training, the grey matter in their HIPPOCAMPUS (the part of the brain which deals with navigating and spatial awareness) had SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED IN DENSITY.

TO FIND OUT ABOUT MINDFULNESS TRAINING CLICK ABOVE

RESOURCE :

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

 

 

 

 

Childhood Trauma And Memory – Why Some Remember, Others Forget

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As humans we have a natural, psychological defense mechanism which allows us to disconnect our conscious awareness from experiences which would be too emotionally disturbing for us to allow them access to our consciousness. This process is termed ‘DISSOCIATION‘ by psychologists.

The process of dissociation, in relation to the experience of severe trauma, can happen:

– whilst the traumatic event is occurring

– for a finite time after the traumatic experience has occurred (i.e. when traumatic events are only recalled after a delay, possibly of years)

– indefinitely after the traumatic event (i.e. the memory of the traumatic experience never gains access to our conscious mind)

Indeed, for those individuals who develop post traumatic shock disorder (PTSD) as a consequence of the trauma they experienced, MEMORY ABNORMALITIES, related to the traumatic event/s, is very frequently one of the major symptoms. These abnormalities of memory can be broken down into two main categories :

1) HYPERNESIA (the opposite of amnesia) :

This refers to a state in which the memory of the trauma keeps encroaching upon consciousness to the point that the sufferer feels as if s/he is obsessed with the trauma s/he experienced.

The memories are intrusive, unwanted, overwhelming, distressing and feel beyond the control of the person who is experiencing them. As well as intrusive thoughts, there are also frequently flashbacks and nightmares relating to the trauma.

Sometimes, too, the traumatized individual will feel as if s/he he is vividly re-living the traumatic experience in the immediate present.

2) AMNESIA :

This refers to forgetting/repressing the traumatic experience, or, at least, important aspects of the trauma. The term that psychologists use to describe this is : ‘DISSOCIATIVE AMNESIA.’

WHY DO SOME REMEMBER TRAUMA AND OTHERS FORGET?

There are a number of factors that influence whether traumatic memories are remembered or not; these are :

1) THE TYPE OF TRAUMA

– traumatic experiences caused by nature (e.g. earthquake, flood etc) are more likely to be remembered than traumatic experiences inflicted by another person (e.g. rape)

2) HOW FREQUENTLY THE TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE OCCURRED

– single traumatic events are more likely to be remembered than a series traumatic events which occurred over an extended time period

3) AGE OF THE INDIVIDUAL WHO EXPERIENCED THE TRAUMA

– adults are more likely to recall traumatic events than are young children

4) WHETHER OTHERS VALIDATE THE PERSON’S TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE OR DENY IT

– when someone suffers trauma and others validate how painful the experience must have been and provide emotional support, s/he is more likely to remember it than a person who finds that others deny and invalidate his/her traumatic experiences. Those who are encouraged to keep the traumatic experience a secret are also less likely to remember it.

5) DOUBLE BIND

– when those who are supposed to care for an individual instead harm and abuse/traumatize him/her (placing the individual in what psychologists term a DOUBLE BIND) it can be impossible for the individual to process and store these two highly conflicting facts in consciousness. The individual may, therefore, block from consciousness the fact that s/he is being abused – this is, essentially, an unconscious defense mechanism to protect the individual’s consciousness from overwhelming anguish.

EXPLICIT VERSUS IMPLICIT MEMORY

Memories can be EXPLICIT or IMPLICIT. Explicit memories refer to the recall of facts and events. Implicit memories refer to knowledge we have stored about how to do things (sometimes referred to as ‘behavioural knowledge’) but which we cannot remember learning. An obvious example is speech – we know how to talk, but can’t remember learning how to do so.

THE FOUR STAGES OF MEMORY

As well as dividing memories into explicit and implicit, we can also break down the memory process into 4 stages; these are :

a) input

b) encoding (storage)

c) rehearsal (this allows the information pass into long-term memory)

d) retrieval

Research suggests that traumatic memories ARE ENCODED (STAGE ‘b’ ABOVE) DIFFERENTLY FROM NORMAL MEMORIES. It seems that they are stored in the LIMBIC SYSTEM WHICH PROCESSES EMOTIONS/FEELINGS BUT NOT SPEECH/LANGUAGE.

It is therefore theorized that traumatized individuals often end up with IMPLICIT MEMORIES which causes them to FEEL THE EMOTIONS THE ORIGINAL TRAUMA CAUSED (eg. intense fear, anger) but have NO EXPLICIT MEMORY OF THE EVENT NOR THE LANGUAGE WITH WHICH TO EXPRESS HOW THEY HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY IT.

This can lead to ‘ACTING OUT’ (i.e. expressing feelings through behaviour rather than through language -e.g. smashing a plate to express anger) and constant strong emotions like terror, depression and hostility without the person experiencing them understanding, or being aware of, their true origin.

In other words, those who have

a) experienced early life trauma

may

b) constantly feel bad and behave self-destructively

without awareness that the two (i.e. ‘a’ and ‘b’ above) are connected, due to having forgotten/repressed/dissociated from the original trauma that is the source of such feelings and behaviour.

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Above ebooks now available on Amazon for instant download. $4.99. CLICK HERE.

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

 

 

Constant Feelings of Threat/Paranoia And Their Link To Childhood Trauma

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If we felt frequently threatened as young children, and this occurred over a significant period of time, it is not at all improbable that THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM WAS ADVERSELY AFFECTED.
Our nervous system is involved with our physiological response to stress and, in the situation described above, it can become ‘stuck’ in this RESPONSE TO STRESS STAGE, leading us to feel constantly FEARFUL and IN DANGER ; or, in other words, as if our nervous system is on PERMANENT ‘RED ALERT’. This is an exhausting and extremely painful mental state to be in, and, indeed, was one that I myself suffered for more years than I care to recall : it can, at worst, take on the form of feeling in a permanent state of psychotic terror, leading to suicidal intent.
INCOMPLETE BIOLOGICAL STEPS OF THE STRESS RESPONSE :
The typical, healthy, biological response to stress can be described as consisting of five major stages (see below). Let’s look at what happens when we fail to complete all five stages, as can occur if the development of our nervous system was harmed by the constant threat we may have felt when we were growing up.
BIOLOGICAL STAGES :
1) STARTLE RESPONSE – if we were constantly in a state of fear as a child, our STARTLE RESPONSE can be hypersensitive in our adulthood and therefore too easily activated, and over- activated, in response to even very mild perceived threats.
2) SCANNING THE ENVIRONMENT FOR DANGER – if we were constantly anticipating danger as children, once we become adults we may find we are constantly on-edge and hypervigilant, looking for, and perceiving, danger everywhere
3) EVALUATING LEVEL OF DANGER – if we were mistreated as a child in an unpredictable manner, it is very likely that, as adults, we will tend to greatly overestimate the level of danger posed by a perceived threat.
4) FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE – when we percieve ourselves to be in danger, we instinctively respond with a ‘FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE’ RESPONSE (click here to read my article on this). If such a response was frequently activated as we grew up, due to mistreatment we received from our parents or primary caregivers, the same reactions will tend to be far too easily triggered when we’re adults (ie the ‘fight/flight/freeze’ response becomes overly sensitive, so we may, for example, become disproportionally angry over anything that makes us feel we are under threat (the ‘FIGHT’ RESPONSE). SUCH ANGER IS A DEFENCE MECHANISM LEARNED IN CHILDHOOD.
5) RELEASE OF RESIDUAL ENERGY AND REST – if we felt in perpetual danger as a childt, it is possible we never reached this stage and continue not to reach it in adulthood, becoming, instead, stuck at one of the earlier four stages in response to perceived threat. Relief and respite from fear and anxiety can, therefore, remain frustratingly elusive.
At present, COGNITIVE-BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT) IS ONE OF THE LEADING TREATMENTS FOR SUCH PROBLEMS.
RESOURCES :
OVERCOME PARANOID FEELINGS MP3 – CLICK HERE
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Childhood Trauma Questionnaire

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Childhood Trauma Questionnaire :

Did your parents often demean you, devalue you, swear at you or humiliate you?

Did your parents physically abuse you?

Were you often physically neglected (eg not fed properly, forced to wear dirty clothes, or not taken to the doctor when ill, perhaps because your parents were drunk or under the influence of illicit drugs)?

Did you lose one of your parents during your childhood (eg because of death, divorce, separation abandonment)

Did you often witness your mother/step-mother being subjected to physical abuse?

Did anyone in your household (who was at least five years older than you) ever sexually assault you?

Did you feel you were not close to your family, that they did not support you and that they did not love you or regard you as special?

Did any member of your household go to prison when you were growing up?

Was any member of your household suffering from a mental illness whilst you were growing up (including clinical depression)

Did anyone in your household suffer from an addiction when you were growing up (eg to alcohol or illicit drugs?)

Score one point for each of the questions you answered ‘YES’ to.

(The greater the number of adverse childhood experiences suffered, and the greater the severity of these, the more damaging to psychological development they are likely to have been).

To read my article summarizing the potential effects of childhood trauma, CLICK HERE.

There are also over 750 other articles on this site about more specific effects of childhood trauma, as well as about possible treatments, therapies and self-help techniques.

RESOURCE :

UNLOVED AS A CHILD | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

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Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. CLICK HERE (other titles also available)

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

Posttraumatic Growth – Techniques to Help Keep Remaining Symptoms of Trauma Under Control

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I have stated before that just because we have entered the phase of posttraumatic growth, this does not mean symptoms of trauma have been completely eradicated. Therefore, in order to be able to maximize the potential of our posttraumatic growth, it is very useful to know about techniques to manage re-emerging symptoms resulting from our experience of trauma, so that they interfere with our recovery as little as possible.

THE TECHNIQUES :

So, if, during our recovery/posttraumatic growth, we feel our symptoms are re-asserting themselves, we can employ the use of the following techniques:

– avoid interpersonal conflict (eg do not allow ourselves to be drawn into energy sapping and demoralizing arguments)

– talk to others about how we are feeling

– take as much time as possible for relaxation (eg gentle exercise,meditation, warm bath)

– indulge in as many enjoyable and pleasurable activities as possible, WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY ABOUT IT (see the activities as a form of necessary therapy)

– treat ourselves with compassion and do not blame ourselves for the effect the trauma has had on us

– keep to a routine; this is very important as it gives us a sense of predictability, control, safety and security

– make use of any social support systems as much as possible (eg friends, family, support groups). Research shows that those with a strong social support network in place cope better with the effects of traumatic experiences

– remember that many individuals who experience significant trauma find that ,once they have come through it, they have gained much inner strength and have greatly developed as people with a much deeper appreciation of life than they had before the traumatic experience/s occurred

– try not to avoid situations which remind you of the original trauma, where at all possible,as this is an effective way of overcoming the fear associated with such situations; avoidance keeps the problem going

– keep reminding yourself that human beings are extremely resilient; many people throughout the ages have been through appalling experiences yet have become stronger people as a result

– it important to remember that seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness or failure

Note : the above suggestions are based on advice given by the Academy of Cognitive Therapy.

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

 

Disturbing Memories – Why They can Remain Unprocessed

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The human brain is able to process most memories without difficulty. If, however, we have experienced particularly disturbing events during our childhood, it is possible that certain memories connected to such events have not yet been properly processed by the brain. Distressing memories which remain unprocessed can give rise to a number of most unpleasant symptoms; these may include, for example, anger, fear, terror or panic (the types of symptoms experienced by individuals will be strongly connected to the type of experiences connected to the unprocessed, distressing memories).

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A leading theory is that, under normal circumstances, memories are processed during sleep – such processing involves neural connections being made (so that the memory becomes integrated with other memories), irrelevant detail being discarded, and appropriate learning taking place.

However, sometimes, if a memory is extremely distressing, it overwhelms the brain, preventing it from smoothly integrating the memory alongside other memories. Such distressing memories, in this way, can REMAIN UNPROCESSED, for years or decades, and, as a result, have a profoundly negative effect on how we think, feel and act if we do not seek out and undergo appropriate therapy.

In this circumstance, the distressing, unprocessed memory gets stored with associated unpleasant physical sensations and negative emotions. These unpleasant physical sensations and negative emotions can, in turn, be easily triggered by seemingly unconnected life events. However, the crucial word here is ‘SEEMINGLY’ ; this is because, UNCONSCIOULY, the life event reminds the individual of the events connected to the unprocessed memory.

In this way, for those of us who have unprocessed, distressing memories from our childhoods, our reactions to certain events in our adult lives may seem, on the surface, to be disproportionate, or, even, grossly disproportionate. This is because the events have, on an unconscious level, triggered how we felt in the past (during our childhoods) when the original traumatic experiences connected to the unprocessed memories occurred. This can lead, at times of acute stress, to a phenomenon known as age-regression (click here to read my article on age-regression).

How traumatic an event is to an individual, and the subsequent chances the memory connected to the traumatic event will not be properly processed, is influenced by a number of factors; these include the period of time over which the individual is exposed to the traumatic events, genetic predisposition and how the individual PERCEIVES the event.

EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING (EMDR) :

One therapy that has (relatively recently) emerged to treat people suffering from the ill effects of traumatic, unprocessed memories is EDMR therapy, which many have found most effective. To read my article about EMDR, click here.

By helping the individual process the traumatic memories, EMDR can help alleviate psychiatric conditions connected with the previously unprocessed memory. These include :

– depression

– panic

– anxiety

– dysfunctional attachments (relationship problems)

– anger

– PTSD

– complex PTSD

– borderline personality disorder (BPD)

– sleep disruption/nightmares/night terrors

– addictions

– eating disorders

.   

 

Above eBooks now available for immediate download on Amazon. $4.99. CLICK HERE.

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

Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn? Trauma Respones

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Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn  – Responses To Threat

Most of us are already familiar with the concept of the ‘fight or flight’ response to perceived danger – namely that when presented with a threat our bodies physiologically respond by preparing us (eg through the release of adrenalin) to fight against it or run from it. This response served our ancestors well in the event, for example, that they came face-to-face with a dangerous predator.

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However, there are two other responses to threat which are less well known – the ‘freeze’ response and the ‘fawn’ response. I will explain what these are in due course.

Collectively, these responses to threat are known as the 4F responses and each of them represent different responses that modern day humans can have if they have been subjected to sustained and repeated trauma during their childhood.

If we have suffered problematic relationships with our main caregiver/s during our early life, it is likely that we will grow up to be very guarded, ambivalent and suspicious about forming close relationships with others during later life (click here to read my article on this). After all (our conscious or unconscious reasoning goes), if we can’t trust and rely upon our parent/s, whom can we trust and rely upon?

On top of this problem, any relationships we do form, with their inevitable ups and down, are bound, occasionally, to remind us of similar relationship problems we had in our early lives with our caregivers, and, in this way, trigger upsetting and painful flashbacks (click here to read my article on this).

NON-TRAUMATIZED CHILDHOOD VERSUS TRAUMATIZED CHILDHOOD

Those lucky enough not to have experienced a significantly disrupted childhood only utilize the 4F responses appropriately (ie only when they are faced with real danger). However, those who were exposed to serious, ongoing trauma during childhood frequently become FIXATED with one, or, perhaps, two, of the 4F responses (ie the response/s become DEEPLY INGRAINED and REFLEXIVE). Unlike those who did not experience a traumatic childhood, these individuals will also tend to over-rely on these responses and use them inappropriately (ie when there is no serious threat); the reponse/s upon which they have become fixated, learned as a defense mechanism during childhood, tend to remain on a hair-trigger and are thus easily activated.

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Above graph shows that after experiencing trauma our ‘fight/flight’ response becomes much more easily activated than previously.

Let’s look at each of the 4F responses to childhood trauma in turn:

1) THE FIGHT TYPE – The individual who has become fixated, due to his/her childhood experiences, on the ‘fight’ response avoids close relationships with others by frequently becoming enraged and often, too, by being overly demanding. It is theorized that s/he is unconsciously driven to behave in this way because s/he has a deep-rooted need to alienate others so that an intimate relationship cannot develop (as such a relationship would make him/her intolerably vulnerable in that it would carry with it the risk of rejection, similar to the rejection experienced in childhood, which would be psychologically catastrophic).

2) THE FLIGHT TYPE – It is theorized that this type of individual, for the same reasons as above, avoids close relationships with others by immersing him/herself in activities (eg by becoming a workaholic) which do not leave him/her the time to build deep, serious relationships with others.

3) THE FREEZE TYPE – This type avoids serious relationships with others by not participating with others socially; often they will become reclusive and increasingly take refuge in fantasies and day-dreams.

4) THE FAWN TYPE – This type will often go out of their way to help others, perhaps by performing some kind of community service, but without building up emotionally close, or intimate, relationships, due to a fear,like the other three types detailed above, of making him/herself vulnerable to painful rejection which would reawaken intense feelings of distress experienced as a result of the original, highly traumatic childhood rejection.

Above eBook available on Amazon for instant download (other titles also available) $3.99. CLICK HERE.

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

However

Why can Effects of Childhood Trauma be Delayed?

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Delayed onset post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ,which can occur as a result of a severely disrupted childhood, is defined by the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) as PTSD which develops at least six months after the traumatic event/s; however, PTSD can take much longer than this to manifest itself.

One reason why PTSD may not become apparent immediately is that the individual who has been affected by  trauma is able, for a period of time, to employ coping mechanisms (either consciously or unconsciously) which keep the condition at bay. During this period, some of the effects of the traumatic experience/s lie dormant.However, due to the experiencing of  further triggers (stress-inducing reminders of the original trauma), the person’s neurobiological processes (already harmed by the original trauma) may be further adversely affected until a ‘tipping point’ is reached and the s/he meets the criteria for being diagnosed with the disorder.

In other words, there is an interaction between the original damage caused by the trauma and exposure to further stressors later on in life. It follows from this that the more severe the original trauma, and the more severe the stressors life throws at the individual subsequently, the greater is the his/her accumulated risk of developing PTSD. Indeed, this is borne out by the research.

ORIGINAL TRAUMA LEADS TO GREATER VULNERABILITY TO EFFECTS OF FURTHER STRESS :

The original trauma, then, makes the individual more susceptible to being affected adversely by further life stressors. In neurological terms, this is thought to be because the original trauma can damage an area of the brain known as the amygdala; damage to this region makes a person’s fear/anxiety response to stressors much more intense than is normally the case (click here to read my article on how the effects of childhood trauma can physically harm the brain).

The more the individual affected by the original trauma subsequently experiences stressful triggers (see above) which cause him/her to relive it, the more damaged, and hypersensitive to the effects of further stress, the amydala (see above) becomes. Eventually, the amygdala’s response to perceived threat and danger (there does not have to be any real threat or danger ; indeed, one of the hallmarks of PTSD is that it causes the sufferer to see threat everywhere, where it does not, in fact, exist)  become so exaggerated that the individual finds him/herself living in what amounts to a state of almost constant terror (indeed, I myself was in just such a state for more time than I care to recall).

VICIOUS CYCLE:

As the individual starts to perceive, irrationally, threat everywhere, the range of triggers (see above) s/he experiences grows ever wider; this, in turn, yet further sensitizes the amygdala and reinforces the individual’s stress response. Thus, a vicious cycle develops.

CRITICAL PERIOD OF BRAIN VULNERABILITY :

I will finish with a quote from the psychologist Shalev, which I think speaks for itself and requires no further elucidation from me :

‘Following trauma there is a critical period of brain plasticity during which serious neuronal changes may occur in those who go on to develop PTSD.’

NB. To learn more about BRAIN PLASTICITY, and how we can take advantage of the phenomenon to aid our own recoveries,  click here to read my article).

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Above eBooks now available on Amazon for instant download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

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

Abnormal Behaviours Arising when We’re Uncared For.

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Being cared for as an infant and child is clearly of fundamental importance to our survival. Because of this, humans have evolved, through Darwinian natural selection, forms of behaviour which help to elicit care from others, particularly, of course, from the primary care-giver (an obvious example is that of the baby who will scream and cry for the attentions of his/her mother).

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If, later in life, we develop a psychiatric condition as a result of our poor care in childhood, this will tend to disrupt our lives; however, it may too carry with it what are known as ‘secondary gains’ which have the effect of encouraging others to care for us. Because of this, it has been hypothesized that some psychiatric conditions, particularly those which follow the collapse of important relationships, may develop, at least in part, due to an unconscious attempt by the sufferer to elicit some form of compensatory care from those around him/her.

Examples of such conditions include :

1) Neurotic depression

2) Parasuicide

3) Abnormal Illness Behaviour

4) Conversion Hysteria

5) Anorexia Nervosa

Let’s take a closer look at each of these in turn :

1) NEUROTIC DEPRESSION – this type of depression frequently follows the loss of an important supportive relationship and may include care-eliciting behaviours (eg crying). It is often the case that this will produce sympathy, concern and support from others (such as family and professionals) which can serve to reinforce the condition.

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2) PARASUICIDE – this is attempted suicide which is non-fatal. Again, it often follows the ending of an important relationship. It is not necessarily a deliberate way of influencing others to provide emotional support, but in some cases there may have been an unconscious desire for the act not to be successful, resulting in a ‘half-hearted’ attempt. It is often called ‘a cry for help’, and this phrase was originally used by the psychologist Stengal in 1964.

It is important to point out, however, that many suicide attempts fail even when the person unambiguously wanted to end their own life – it must not be assumed, therefore, that a failed suicide attempt was intentionally unsuccessful.

3) ABNORMAL ILLNESS BEHAVIOUR – This was first described by the psychologist Pilowsky in 1969. It may manifest itself in the form of hypochondriasis or psychogenic pain, for example (psychogenic pain is pain which has no obvious physical cause but is generated by mental distress).

As with the previous conditions, ‘abnormal illness behaviour’ often follows interpersonal problems. It is particularly likely to occur when those close to the sufferer tend to treat him/her significantly better when s/he is unwell.

4) CONVERSION HYSTERIA – this condition was first proposed within the framework of psychodynamic theory. Essentially, it refers to the physical expression of of internal mental conflict and distress, frquently following on from the loss of emotional support.

It is thought to be especially likely to occur when the individual is restricted in his/her ability to express his/her inner mental turmoil through other channels (eg not skilled at articulating emotions and feelings).

Like the other three conditions already described, it often attracts the care and support of others.

5) ANOREXIA NERVOSA – Because the individual suffering from this condition refuses food/proper nutrition and may well become emaciated, it creates anxiety in  those close to the individual and is particularly likely to elicit care-giving from both them and from professionals. This can reinforce the symptoms.

 

RESOURCES :

www.minddisorders.com – Effects of Child Neglect – click here

 

EBOOKS :

 

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Above eBooks now available on Amazon for instant download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

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

PTSD – What Happens in the Brain?

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the potentially devastating effects that may follow on from childhood trauma, and, in this context, the condition is frequently referred to as ‘complex PTSD.’ But what is actually happening inside of the brain in individuals who are suffering from this most serious condition?

To answer this question, it is necessary to look at two particular brain structures; these are :

1) THE AMYGDALA -this structure can be viewed as the brain’s ‘FEAR CENTRE’

2) THE HIPPOCAMPUS – this structure is able to activate/deactivate the amygdala

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Next, it is necessary to understand that :

under stress, the body produces two hormones called ADRENALINE and CORTISOL :

The functions of these two hormones are as follows:

– ADRENALINE – this produces physical responses to stress such as increased heart rate and sweating

– CORTISOL – this flows to the hippocampus and at first helps to lay down the memory of the trauma, but, in excessive quantities over sustained periods of time, it can damage the hippocampus, causing its cells to degenerate and, eventually, die. This process is called APOPTOSIS.

Indeed, if the traumatic experience is severe enough these biological changes in the brain (ie the excessive production of neurotoxins such as cortisol) can cause the hippocampus, in effect, to shut down.

This means it can no longer regulate or switch off the FEAR PRODUCING AMYGDALA,  causing the latter brain structure  to go into overdrive.

Thus, a situation arises in which the AMYGDALA BECOMES OVERACTIVE DUE TO THE UNDERACTIVITY OF THE HIPPOCAMPUS. Without proper intervention, this state of affairs may persist for many years.

The processes described above can lead to what has been called a TRAUMATIC CASCADE, causing the individual to feel a constant state of hyper-arousal, hyper-vigilance, anxiety and fear, perceiving danger, or the threat of danger, everywhere.

IMPLICATIONS FOR TREATMENT :

In such a poor and intensely painful emotional state, it is not possible for the individual to start properly processing, in a therapeutic manner, his/her experiences of trauma. This prevents the recovery process from getting underway.

In order to rectify this, a vital step, before therapeutic processing of traumatic experiences can begin, is to bring these constant feelings of fear and anxiety down to a level at which they are at least manageable. This may involve the prescribing of appropriate medication, behavioural techniques, or a combination of the two.

Indeed, studies involving both humans and animals have shown that such interventions can lead to the recovery of the hippocampus so that, once again, it may begin to regulate the amygdala as intended and alleviate excessive and superfluous feelings of fear and anxiety.

bpd_ebook  child_trauma_and_NEUROPLASTICITY, functional_and_structural_ neuroplasticity

Above eBooks available for instant download at Amazon. $4.99. CLICK HERE

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