Childhood Trauma - Effects And Recovery

Types Of Abuse

what is childhood trauma?

Types Of Abuse And Childhood Trauma :

There is no one, absolute and precise definition of childhood trauma. However, experts in the field of its study generally agree that an individual’s traumatic experience will be related to one or more of the following three types of abuse (or, including NEGLECT, 4 types of abuse) :

1) Emotional abuse (In relation to this, you may wish to read my article : Why Parents Emotionally Abuse And Its Effects)

2) Physical abuse (in relation to this, you may wish to read my article : What types of parents are more likely to physically abuse their children?)

3) Sexual abuse

In the past it was generally agreed amongst clinicians that sexual abuse had the most significant adverse impact on the child’s subsequent development. However, it is important to point out that more up-to-date research shows emotional and physical abuse can be just as damaging (some children will experience a combination of two or more of the three types).

The exact nature of the abuse will be inextricably intertwined with the developmental problems which emerge in the individual as a result of it.

childhood trauma

Neglect :

There is a problem, though, with the categorization method. This is because the three individual categories do not tend to take account of neglect. Neglect may involve a parent or carer doing nothing to intervene to prevent the child from being abused by someone else, or a parent burdening a young child with their own psychological problems which the child is not old or mature enough to cope with. A parent or carer might neglect a child knowingly or unknowingly.

How Common is Child Abuse?

It is difficult to know the true figures as childhood abuse is often covered up or unreported. Also, accurate figures are hindered by the fact childhood abuse cannot be precisely defined.

However, current estimates in the UK suggest about 12% of children experience physical abuse and 11% experience sexual abuse.

So if you have been abused as a child, you are far from alone. And, it is very important to remember that those who have suffered childhood trauma, including severe and protracted childhood trauma, CAN and DO recover.

N.B. For other statistics relating to childhood trauma,, you may wish to read my article : CHILDHOOD TRAUMA : THE STATISTICS

Childhood Trauma And Personal Meaning :

Whilst it is impossible to precisely define child abuse, what is important is the PERSONAL MEANING the sufferer ATTACHES to it. In other words, recognizing the problems a person has developed as a result of the abuse and providing therapy to help the individual deal with those problems is more important than precisely defining the traumatic experience which caused the problems, and arguing about whether it technically qualifies as abuse or not.

Events in childhood which cause trauma are often referred to as ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES (or ACEs) in the literature. To view an infographic of ACEs, please click here.

To read more about the ACEs study, click here.



Other Resources Related To Childhood Trauma :

eBook :


Above eBook : How Childhood Trauma Can Physically Damage The Developing Brain now available on Amazon for instant download 

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

Electroshock Therapy

personal experience of ect

Childhood trauma can lead us to become severely clinically depressed as adults, and this happened to me. Electroshock therapy, or Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is only used as a last resort on people who are at high risk of suicide and/or are unable to function in even the most basic areas of life.

ECT is, in fact, misunderstood by the vast majority of people – many see it as barbaric and frightening. Such views, in large part, derive from the popular media (eg from films such as ‘One Flew Over the Cockoo’s Nest’).

However, most controlled research suggests that ECT is helpful as a treatment for severe depression (eg Pagnia et al., 2004). It is normally only used when other interventions, such as psychotherapy and drug treatment, have failed.

There are, though, some risks. Approximately 2-10 patients per 100,000 treatments (ie less than 0.01%) die during the procedure – however, this is no higher than the risk of dying from anesthesia alone (patients have a general anesthetic before undergoing ECT).

After the treatment patients might have headaches, aching muscles or nausea. Also, some patients experience some memory loss (but, generally, only mildly) which can last up to six months (Sackeim et al. 2007).

Patients who undergo ECT, however, tend to view it positively. In one study, 98% of patients who received it said they’d undergo it again if their depression recurred (Pettinati et al., 1994).

personal experience of ect


My own depression was so severe and protracted that I underwent ECT sessions (an ECT treatment session normally comprises blocks of 6 individual treatments) on more than one occasion. I was suicidal and almost completely unable to function (not even able to carry out the most basic self-care, such as shaving, brushing my teeth or taking a bath or shower). As I say, these periods went on for several months, or years, at a time.

Frankly, I did not care whether I lived or died (actually, that’s not quite true, I wanted to be dead), nor what happened to me. Thus, when I was hospitalized, my psychiatrist strongly advised me to undergo ECT. I put up no resistance, nor would I have had the energy or will to do so.

Over the years, each time I underwent ECT sessions, the results were pretty much the same, so I’ll just describe the effect of one set of treatments:

The best thing about it was being given the general anesthetic – such was the extreme nature of my mental anguish that I constantly longed to be unconscious (or dead). Unfortunately, however, the treatment is quick so one is only unconscious for a few minutes!

When I awoke, I’d have very bad, pounding headaches and many of my muscle groups would be painful. Sometimes, I’d need to walk with a stick for a few days after the treatment until the muscles in my legs recovered.

Also, and this was frightening, for about the first five or ten minutes after the treatment I would be so disoriented and confused that I did not know where I was, or even WHO I was. It is impossible for one to imagine how disturbing this is until one has experienced the sensation for oneself. Fortunately, as I said, this did not last long.

On the topic of memory, it felt to me that my memory was impaired for a couple of years after the final treatment session (though not severely). I would make the point, however, that severe clinical depression in itself can impair memory so I cannot attribute it to ECT without some equivocation.

Finally, and most importantly, my own ECT did not have any beneficial effect on me whatsoever; my depression was not even slightly ameliorated.

Obviously, overall, my experience of ECT was fairly negative. However, it is necessary to stress that I am, of course, just one patient out of thousands who have received ECT, so not very much can be concluded from my personal experience it. The research I have already quoted suggests that, for the majority, it is beneficial. Indeed, there are many who believe it has saved their life.


Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. CLICK HERE.

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

How To Deal With Fear

Overcome Fear and Anxiety | Self Hypnosis Downloads : Click Here.


1) GET TO THE ROOT OF THE FEAR – often, when we are afraid of something, it is not the actual thing itself we are really afraid of, but what it represents to us on an unconscious level. Sometimes, if we take a little time to analyze the fears that we have, we realize that the thing we think we are afraid of is actually triggering a memory of something in the past which frightened us.

2) STOP AND ANALYZE AGGRESSION AND ANGER – some people seem to be angry all the time (in fact, that is not entirely inapplicable to me). Sometimes, displays of anger and aggression can be a mask for underlying feelings of powerlessness (again, some might argue this is not utterly untrue of old muggings here). Sometimes, then, we get angry in an attempt to hide (not just from others, but from ourselves) our inner feelings of fear.

3) OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF SUCCESS : this may sound a rather odd one, but, in fact, it is far from uncommon. It often exists only on a sub-conscious level. But why, I hear you ask, should somebody be afraid of success ? Well, there are generally taken to be two main reasons – the first is that sometimes we need to take risks in order to be successful, and many people don’t want to put at risk the limited success they may already enjoy. The second is that often people fear the pressures and responsibilities success can bring with it.

4) DESENSITIZATION : this is a technique whereby we expose ourselves to our fear in gradual stages to ‘get used to it’. A simple example would be someone who is afraid of heights. They may start off by going to the second floor of a building a few times and looking down from its balcony, and they would gradually progress to the 4th, then 6th, then 8th floor, and so on, until, by the end of the desensitization process, they are able to look over the balcony on, say, the 30th floor.

5) CREATE A PERSONAL MANTRA : people have been doing this for thousands of years ; ideally, by saying the phrase (whatecver it happens to be) it should make you feel strong and confident. The English comedy character Delboy, for example, has the mantra, ‘He who dares wins’, perhaps a rather silly example, although it was originally used by the elite British fighting force the S.A.S.

6) EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR FEARS – this is one of the most important things you can do in relation to overcoming fears. You can start by researching just one or two fears. For the purpose, there are academic materials available on the internet. These will provide a wealth of knowledge about what causes them. Remember, knowledge is power – the more that you know about what is causing your fears, and the more you teach yourself strategies to overcome them, the less frightening they will become.

7) ASSUME THAT YOU WILL BE SUCCESSFUL – when undertaking a particular task, or when trying to solve a problem, ASSUME THAT YOU WILL SUCCEED AT IT. Research demonstrates that there is a positive correlation between levels of expectation of success and success itself. A negative attitude, in contrast, will put you at a disadvantage from the word go.

8) LIVE IN THE MOMENT – Of course, it is necessary for all of us to plan for the future ; however, thinking about the future too much can very easily become a source of fear. This is especially true for those of us who suffer from anxiety conditions. To avoid this, we can train ourselves to live more fully in the present, as a young child engrossed in play does so naturally (we find it harder as we get older). The more that we practice doing this, the easier it becomes.

9) STAY BUSY – When we are busy it is necessary for us to focus and concentrate on the task in hand and stops us having morbid thoughts. Busy fingers are happy fingers!

10) ENDURE A DIFFICULT SITUATION – By making yourself remain in a situation which makes you uncomfortable, such as, for example, an awkward and stressful social situation, you will usually find it becomes more tolerable and perhaps (god forbid!) enjoyable. Set yourself mini-endurance challenges like this – the more you are able to get through uncomfortable situations, the less anxiety provoking they will become.

11) ENGAGE A DIFFERENT PART OF THE BRAIN : this is a most effective method which has the effect of SHORT CIRCUITING THE FEAR RESPONSE. Using a higher level of brain function (e.g playing chess against a computer or even mentally running through some mental maths) will largely disengage the emotional part of the brain and engage, instead, a higher level of consciousness. Alternatively, try to mentally relive, in detail, a pleasurable past event from memory.

12) EXERCISE  :  Research has shown that getting moderate physical exercise (even as little as 20 minutes per day) is of enormous benefit to both physical and mental health.

13) TRY TO FIND HUMOUROUS ANGLES TO APPROACH PROBLEMS FROM :  this is extremely good when dealing with fear as it is almost impossible to be frightened of something when you are laughing at it. The brilliant film director Woody Allen has said that his sense of humour acts as a defense mechanism (I recommend his films – a good one to start with is Manhattan).American comic genius Woody Allen

14) Don’t allow you fears to exaggerate a situation – try to consider the situation in which you find yourself in as realistic a way as possible. In particular, watch out for fears over-riding your rational mind (which is the main reason they become overwhelming. This used to happen to me – all the time and in a very extreme way.

15) DRINK LESS ALCOHOL – drinking large amounts of alcohol effects judgment and often causes fears – especially the next day when hung-over, spiral out of control. There is a danger of long-term, excessive drinking leading to delusions and paranoia.

16) REDEFINE YOURSELF – we are all changing every day (as our brain is changing day by day according to what it is experiencing and how it interprets what it is experiencing, there is nothing to stop us from consciously working on that change in a focused manner. Reducing fears, and leaving some behind altogether, can be one of those changes.






Whenever you feel afraid it is worth repeating this mantra (if possible, out loud)

18) TRY TAKING SOME SMALL RISKS : In life, if we wish to make progress, it is necessary to take some risks. Obviously, though, large, foolish risks are to be avoided !



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

PTSD Checklist

PTSD symptom categories

Those of us who experienced high levels of stress as children are at increased risk of developing PTSD.

Whilst it is imperative that a diagnosis for PTSD does NOT derive from self-diagnosis but, instead, comes from a relevantly qualified professional (such as a psychiatrist), the symptoms I list below in a PTSD checklist can give an idea of whether or not one may be suffering from it :

These can be split up into three main PTSD symptom categories as follows below:

1) Symptoms related to avoidance behavior

2) Symptoms related to re-living/ re-experiencing the traumatic events

3) Symptoms related to a person’s biology/physiology/level of physical arousal.

Let’s look at each of these three specific categories of possible PTSD symptoms in turn:

1) Symptoms related to avoidance behavior :

– avoidance of anything that triggers memories of the traumatic experiences, including people, events, and places

– avoiding people connected to the trauma, or avoiding people in general

– avoidance of talking about one’s traumatic experiences

– avoidance of intimacy (both physical and emotional)

2) Symptoms related re-living/ re-experiencing the traumatic events :


distressing, intrusive, unwanted thoughts


– obsessive and uncontrollable thinking about the trauma one has experienced, perhaps to the point that it is hard to think about, or concentrate on, anything else

constant sense of fear, vulnerability, being under threat and of being in extreme imminent danger

– transient and spontaneous psychotic symptoms (e.g visual hallucinations -such as ‘seeing’ past traumatic events happen again, or auditory hallucinations – such as ‘hearing’ sounds or voices connected to the original trauma

3) Symptoms relating to a person’s biology/physiology/level of physical arousal.

hypervigilance (feeling ‘keyed up’, tense and constantly on guard)

hyperventilation (rapid, shallow breathing)

– sweating

– shaking/trembling

– extreme irritability

proneness to outbursts of rage that feel out of control and surface unpredictably

– getting into physical fights, especially if using alcohol to numb feelings of distress/fear

– an over-sensitive startle response

– feeling constantly ‘jittery’ and ‘on-edge’

– inability to relax

– insomnia/frequent waking/unrefreshing sleep

Miscellaneous Other Possible Symptoms:

– despair; feeling life is empty and meaningless; feeling numb and ‘dead inside’; anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure); inability to trust others; loss of motivation; loss of interest in previous hobbies/pursuits; loss of interest in sex; cynical and deeply pessimistic outlook; self-neglect; self-harm; thoughts of suicide/suicide attempts; extreme and chronic fatigue; agoraphobia and phobias related to the original trauma.

(NB : Whilst the above list of symptoms is extensive, it is not exhaustive).

Recommended link:

For more detailed help and advice regarding this serious condition, click here : Advice from MIND on PTSD.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)


The Importance Of Limbic Resonance In Early Life

One way of describing the brain is to represent it as comprising three parts which developed at different times during our evolutionary history :

  • The reptilian brain (this is the most primitive part of the brain) : this part of the brain is involved in basic functions such as breathing and heart rate.
  • The limbic system (sometimes referred to as the mammalian brain) : this part of the brain is involved with emotions.
  • The neocortex (this is the most recently evolved part of our brains) : this part of the brain is involved in higher level mental processing.

This three part model of the brain is often referred to as the triune brain and is depicted in the image below.


The concept of limbic resonance relates to, as the term suggests, the brain’s limbic system (sometimes referred to as the brain’s emotional centre).

What Is Limbic Resonance?

The concept of limbic resonance was first introduced in the book entitled  A General Theory Of Love and, in simple terms, refers to the idea that emotions are contagious and that, therefore, the emotions of others have a powerful effect upon our own inner state.

Due to our capacity for emotional resonance, our own internal, emotional state does not exist as an independent entity, but, instead, is dependent upon the emotional states of others, particularly those to whom we are very close. For example, if someone around us is anxious and fearful, we sense this and it may have an adverse effect upon our own inner state ; in other words, the negative emotions of others can ‘infect’ us (and, likewise, the positive emotions of those around us (such as warmth, compassion and love) can ‘nourish’ us.

Limbic Resonance And Babyhood :

Limbic resonance is of crucial importance in relation to how we relate to our primary carer (usually the mother) when we are babies / infants.

Limbic resonance is normally achieved between baby and mother via deep eye contact; However, if the process goes wrong and  our mother is consistently,  poorly attuned to us at this early stage of our lives, failing to attend to our basic needs, our brain’s chemical composition and its limbic system’s ability to interact with the reptilian brain and neocortex (see above) in a manner conducive to emotional health and well-being (referred to as ‘limbic regulation’) may be seriously disrupted leading to impaired development of the personality as well as emotional difficulties in later life.


If, when we were very young, the poor quality of our relationship with our mother meant that she was unable to satisfactorily attune to us and to provide consistent, attentive, warm, loving care, the authors of A General Theory Of Love, (Lewis, Amini and Lannon) suggest that the resultant psychological problems we are at risk of developing  may be effectively treated with the use of a therapy known as LIMBIC REVISION.



In relation to this, you may wish to read my previously published article :

The book referred to in the above article, A GENERAL THEORY OF LOVE,‘ can be purchased from Amazon (see below):

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

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