Research on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a Treatment for Trauma.

transcranial magnetic stimulation

What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation? :

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is normally abbreviated to TMS. Essentially, this treatment works by delivering short pulses of magnetic energy (which are generated by a hand held device that contains an electro-magnetic coil) to specific brain regions. It is a non-physically invasive therapy and the smallish, relatively simple device is merely guided over the relevant areas of the patient’s head by the doctor.

Research has already shown that the treatment can significantly reduce depressive symptoms in patients and early indicators are that it may also be of benefit to individuals suffering from the effects of trauma.

In order to help you visualize the simplicity of the procedure, imagine a hair-dryer being moved over the head – the only difference is that, rather than warm air being delivered,essentially painless, magnetic pulses are delivered instead.

HOW DOES TMS WORK?

I have already stated that the procedure is essentially painless (although some patients report that it has induced in them a headache) so the magnetic pulses are delivered whilst the patient is fully conscious. The procedure generally takes about twenty minutes. The magnetic pulses work by altering the way in which the brain cells communicate with each other (or, to put it more technically, the electrical firing between the brain’s neurons is altered) in the specific brain regions at which the treatment is directed. Research into the treatment has so far suggested that it may:

– reduce symptoms of depression
– reduce symptoms of anxiety – reduce the intensity of intrusive traumatic thoughts – help to reduce social anxiety by reducing avoidance behaviours

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF TMS :

Unfortunately, TMS cannot be administered to those individuals who have been fitted with a pacemaker (or, for that matter, have had any other metal implanted in their body). Also, it cannot be administered to those who suffer from epilepsy in most cases.

In rare cases, TMS may induce seizures or manic episodes.

Anyone considering the treatment should discuss it with their doctor.

 

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

How Childhood Trauma Can Reduce Life Expectancy By 19 Years.

 

childhood trauma's effect on life expectancy

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) may reduce life expectancy by about 19 years (from approximately 79 years for those who experienced no significant trauma, to about 60 years for those who experienced many significant traumas).

In the study, the traumas experienced included the following:

– witnessing domestic violence
– emotional/verbal abuse
– physical abuse
– parental alcohol/drug misuse
– parental imprisonment
– parental separation/divorce

childhood trauma reduces life expectancy

SPECIFIC DETAILS OF THE STUDY:

– those who had suffered 6 or more traumas, on average, lost about 19 years of life (dying, on average, at about 60 years, rather than at about 79 years, as was the average age of death of those who had suffered no significant trauma).

– those who had suffered 3 to 5 traumatic events lost, on average, 5.5 years of life, dying, on average, at 73.5 years.

-those who had suffered 2 traumatic events lost, on average, about 3 years of life, dying, on average, at about 76 years.

POSSIBLE REASONS FOR THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND LOWER LIFE EXPECTANCY:

One theory is that childhood trauma can lead to CELL DAMAGE (specifically, inflammation and premature aging of the cells). It is also thought that exposure to high and sustained stress in childhood can also DAMAGE DNA strands; this, in turn, can lead to increased risk of disease and premature death.

Furthermore, extreme stress in childhood (which makes it far more likely the child will go on to have a stressful adult life) leads to greater production in the body of ADRENALINE (a neurotransmitter which prepares the body for ‘fight or flight’) and also of CORTISOL (a stress hormone); these biochemical effects increase the individual’s likelihood of developing disease.

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA LEADING TO HARMFUL ADULT BEHAVIOURS:

Because individuals who suffer childhood trauma tend to have much more stressful adult lives, as adults they are more likely to utilize coping strategies which are, in the long-term, damaging (these are known as MALADAPTIVE COPING STRATEGIES). They include:

– smoking
drinking alcohol to excess
– illicit drug use
– ‘comfort eating’ of junk food

All of these behaviours, linked to childhood trauma, can dramatically reduce life expectancy.

WHY NOT TO PANIC:

Although the study shows that there is an association (or correlation) between childhood trauma and lower life expectancy, this does NOT mean that childhood trauma directly and inevitably leads to losing years of life.

Rather, the link is indirect: childhood trauma tends to lead to more stress and harmful behaviours (as already outlined) and it is these which can lower life expectancy, NOT the childhood trauma in and of itself taken in isolation.

The good news that follows from this is that we are able to address our stress and harmful behaviours (such as excessive drinking, overeating etc) either through self-help or with the aid of professional therapy; therefore, the childhood trauma we experienced need NOT lead to a shorter life.

If you would like to view an infographic which illustrates the relationship between childhood trauma and heart disease in later life please click here.

 

eBooks :

CPTSD ebook.  borderline personality disorder ebook

Above ebooks now available on Amazon for instant download.

Click here for further details.

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

How Adult Children Can Manage Their Relationship With Parents Who Have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Part 2.

 

bpd mother

For Part 1, click here.

IMPROVE RELATIONSHIP WITH MOTHER HYPNOSIS MP3 - CLICK HERE

IMPROVE RELATIONSHIP WITH MOTHER HYPNOSIS MP3 – CLICK HERE

If we have been brought up as children with a parent who has BPD, it is often necessary to seek therapy to help resolve the trauma that we have suffered and to help us come to terms with our loss – in effect, our ‘stolen childhood’.

the unpredictable mood swings of the BPD sufferer

Above : the unpredictable mood swings of the BPD sufferer

In therapy, it may often be necessary to work through the resentment we might well feel (particularly as this feeling of resentment can be deeply painful for us to carry around) and consider how our lives have been adversely affected.

Also, we may want to work with our therapist to consider what positive or useful things we may have learned from our difficult childhood, perhaps through strategies we adopted to deal with this problematic period of our lives, or from other, more positive, role models (eg teachers, friends, counselors etc).

Reviewing things in such a way can bring to the surface very painful feelings, and, if we do not have a therapist to speak to, talking things over with a sensitive and compassionate friend can be valuable.

Releasing emotions connected with our past through ‘talking them out’ can help us to move forward in our lives. Until we do this, our emotional development can remain arrested (‘stuck’), as I am quite convinced happened in my own case for more years than I care to recollect.

One way in which we can express our, perhaps, long pent-up feelings towards the parent with BPD is to write them a letter describing how their behaviour made our lives so stressful and painful. (It is usually better not to actually send the letter as this runs the risk of making matters worse still; however, some therapists may have different views.)

HOW, AS AN ADULT CHILD, WE CAN NOW PROTECT OURSELVES FROM OUR PARENT WITH BPD?

Individuals with BPD find it very hard to understand that others have personal boundaries, thus it is necessary to put more effort into establishing such boundaries with a parent with BPD than might otherwise be the case.

In some cases, it may be necessary to cut off completely from the parent with BPD, as the relationship is mutually destructive and it appears that this is beyond remedy. That, very sadly, was the decision I had to take with my own mother.

However, such drastic action may not be required; it might, instead, be necessary to make it clear we are unable to cope with constantly supporting the parent with BPD with their endless emotional problems as we have our own to deal with; that we need time alone/personal space/privacy; or that we are not prepared to discuss certain topics which always give rise to unpleasantness, hurt and pain.

These are just examples; there may be several other areas in which we need to make clear our boundaries. A parent with BPD will often put their own emotional needs ahead of ours; we need to be clear in our own minds that we have a right to have our own needs respected.

Indeed, we have a duty to ourselves to meet our own needs, especially as so much emotional damage was done to us as children. We need to ASSERTIVELY make this clear.

Of course, our parent with BPD is very likely to respond by trying to make us feel guilty and bad about ourselves for expressing our own needs, so we need to be prepared in advance for this reaction and not to give in to emotional blackmail. We need to maintain our strength and confidence – a good view to take is that we have a duty to protect the hurt child who still resides within us.

As I have said, it is extremely advisable to have support when thinking about making such changes as I have written about, ideally professional. If, however, this is not possible, there are many support groups for people affected by BPD, both online and offline.

RESOURCES :

MP3s:

DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE MP3 – CLICK HERE

 

EBOOKS :

borderline personality disorder ebook

 

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

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

Childhood Trauma: The Link with Future Gambling.

childhood trauma and gambling addiction

Childhood Trauma And Gambling Addiction :

Research suggests that childhood trauma increases the likelihood of future addictions, including gambling. This gambling may become pathological. The types of childhood trauma that were experienced in pathological gamblers include violence, sexual abuse and loss. For instance, Jacobs (2008) conducted research demonstrating that childhood trauma greatly increased the risk of addictions in later life.

It has been hypothesized that gambling helps the individual cope with their childhood trauma through the psychological process known as DISSOCIATION (whilst intensely involved with gambling the individual ‘goes into another world’, blissfully disconnecting, for a time, from painful reality).

Pathological gambling is closely connected to impulse and control disorders; indeed, such disorders frequently express themselves in conditions linked to childhood trauma (such as borderline personality disorder).Pathological gambling may involve:

– an overwhelming preoccupation with gambling
– lying to others to cover up the extent of the gambling
– a failure to stop gambling even when the individual strongly wants to do so

The profile of the pathological gambler is often a complicated one as the individual often suffers from an array of other psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety (Abbot et al., 1999).

Studies estimate that about 2% (although the figure varies somewhat from study to study) of the U.S. population suffers from pathological gambling.

Factors other than childhood trauma which make an individual more at risk of developing pathological gambling inclue:

– being male
– being young
– having other mental health problems

Polusny et al (1995) suggested that addictive behaviours help the individual avoid both the memories of their childhood trauma together with the deeply painful feelings and emotions associated with it. Therefore, because activities such as gambling reduce the emotional distress connected with childhood trauma, the individual is driven to repeat the gambling experience again and again, due to the reward it provides of reducing psychological pain (this is technically known as negative reinforcement).

It is my contention that, on some level, the benefits of reducing psychological pain must outweigh the financial losses; as losses can be enormous this gives some indication of the level of psychological pain the individual is in and the strength of the internal drive to reduce it. Of course, this can only be helpful in short-term bursts and, overall, it goes without saying that the individual’s pain and suffering are compounded.

gambling addiction

THE GENERAL THEORY OF ADDICTION:

This model proposes that there is an underlying biological state (ie an abnormal resting arousal state) together with a psychological state which is painful for the individual (for example, by creating a feeling of unbearable anxiety) often caused by childhood trauma to which activities such as gambling provide an ‘escape route’ (temporarily). The individual becomes addicted to this short-term relief (although often he will not realize this is the fundamental reason he continues to gamble, the drive frequently being unconscious).

Addictions which alleviate extreme stress in this manner are known as MALADAPTIVE COPING STRATEGIES; they are, essentially, learned defences against UNRESOLVED TRAUMA-RELATED ANXIETY (Henry, 1996).

Studies have revealed that up to 80% of pathological gamblers have suffered extreme childhood trauma. Further studies suggest that the more severe and protracted the trauma, the higher the risk is that the individual will develop pathological gambling behaviour and the YOUNGER the individual will be when he starts to use gambling as a coping strategy. Indeed, I myself started playing fruit machines at the age of twelve (many places weren’t strict about the age of the person playing them in the late 1970s) and I can remember quite distinctly the pleasant relief it gave to my already depressed and anxious emotional state.

TREATMENT IMPLICATIONS:

It seems likely, then, that childhood trauma which remains unresolved is likely to elevate the risk of pathological gambling in individuals. When treating pathological gamblers, therefore, it is important to assess the degree of trauma the individual might have suffered and to consider appropriate psychological interventions which could be implemented to help the individual resolve the trauma. It is the psychological pain which underlies the compulsion to gamble which it is necessary to address.

RESOURCE :

Overcome Gambling Addiction : Self-hypnosis download – Click here for more information

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

Childhood Trauma: The Link with Alcoholism.

childhood trauma and alcoholism

Childhood Trauma And Alcoholism

When childhood trauma remains unresolved (ie. it has not yet been worked through and processed with the help of psychotherapy), alcoholism may result (together, frequently, with aggressive behaviour).

Indeed, it has been suggested that unresolved traumatic events are actually the MAIN CAUSE of alcoholism in later life. The trauma may have its roots in:

– the child having been rejected by the parent/s
– too much responsibility having been placed upon the child

As would be expected, it has also been found that adult risk of both alcoholism and depression increases the greater the number of traumatic events experienced and the greater their intensity.

Children who grow up in alcoholic households have also been found to be at greater risk of becoming alcoholics themselves in adulthood, but this appears to be due to the fact that, as children with alcoholic parent/s, they are more likely to have experienced traumatic events than children of non-alcoholic parents, rather than due to them modelling their own behaviour regarding drinking alcohol upon that of their parent/s.

childhood trauma and alcoholisms

Furthermore, the more traumatic events experienced during childhood (of a physical, emotional or sexual nature), the more intensely symptoms of ANGER are likely to present themselves later on.

In research studies on childhood trauma, the degree of trauma experienced (and it is obviously not possible to quantify this with absolute precision) is often measured using the CHILDHOOD TRAUMA QUESTIONNAIRE (Fink et al., 1995) which identifies EMOTIONAL INJURIES and PARENTAL NEGLECT experienced during childhood and adolesence.

 

PSYCHODYNAMIC THEORIES view alcholism as A MEANS OF COPING WITH ANXIETY.
Studies suggest that an alcoholic adult is about ten times more likely to have experienced physical violence as a child and about twenty times more likely to have experienced sexual abuse. Lack of peace in the family during childhood is also much more frequently reported by adults suffering from alcoholism, as are: EMOTIONAL ABUSE, NEGLECT, SEPARATION AND LOSS, INADEQUATE (eg distant) RELATIONSHIPS and LACK OF PARENTAL AFFECTION.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE TREATMENT OF ADULT ALCOHOLICS:

Psychotherapy to help the individual suffering from alcoholism resolve his/her childhood trauma may improve treatment outcomes and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Further research is being conducted to help to confirm this.

RESOURCES :

Cope With Alcohol Withdrawal – CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.

If you would like to view an infographic of the relationship between childhood trauma and substance abuse/addiction, please click here.

For another infographic, which focuses just upon the link between childhood trauma and alcoholism alone, please click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Childhood Trauma: The Link with Future Violence. Part Two.

childhood_trauma_effects

It is possible that even just one, short-lived, traumatic event experienced in childhood, particularly in very early childhood, can prove so overwhelming that it leads to intense emotional suffering. Much research has been conducted upon this, and, to use just one example, a study by Pincus has demonstrated that just about all violent adult criminals have, as children, undergone extreme psychological trauma leading to such intense emotional suffering which has a dramatic impact on their subsequent psychological and physiological development and thus on their behaviour as adults.

It is because the trauma is UNRESOLVED (ie. the individual who experienced it has not processed and worked through it with the help of professional psychotherapeutic intervention) that its effect continues to be played out, all too frequently, through violent behaviour.

ALTERED PHYSIOLOGY.

In such individuals, the instinctive, internal ‘fight’ response is far more easily triggered, and, indeed, far more intensely triggered, when the individual who has experienced childhood trauma perceives himself to be faced with a threat. Due to the unresolved trauma, the PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSE TO THREAT ALSO REMAINS UNRESOLVED. In fact, the individual’s nervous system is perpetually in a state of HYPER-AROUSAL: expecting threat, perceiving threat everywhere, and, on a hair-trigger, ready to fight.

In essence, the individual is trapped in the moment when they did not release the aggressive energy in response to the original trauma/s. This pent-up aggressive energy, then, is condemned, repeatedly, to express itself in adulthood in the form of various types of emotions; these include anger, hatred and rage.

Until the trauma is properly resolved, the individual, unconsciously, becomes trapped in a cycle of attempting to resolve the trauma through compulsive reenactment; we reenact the original trauma in a manner which is closely linked to that original trauma. For example, a child who was exposed to a lot of aggression, hostility or violence is quite likely, as an adult, to be repeatedly drawn into violent situations.

Far from this reenactment resolving the trauma, it actually perpetuates its effects. However, because the behaviour is being driven by largely unconscious motivations, the individual reenacting the trauma is very often powerless to alter his automatic responses to triggers such as perceived threat ( the threat, due to the individual’s hyper-aroused nervous system, often being over-estimated or, even, imagined).

THE GOOD NEWS.

This is all very depressing. However, despite the fact it has been believed, in the past, that extreme trauma leading to cyclical violence could not be cured, because, it was thought, the brain had been irreversably damaged by the original emotional trauma (producing constant feelings of depression, anxiety and rage), more up-to-date research is suggesting that pathological symptoms resulting from trauma do NOT have to be caused by actual physical brain damage (ie. they can be caused by trauma which has not physically damaged the brain) and that when the trauma is effectively resolved through therapy the individual’s nervous system can return to normal and, thus, greatly improve the individual’s behaviour.

There is most certainly hope, then, for even the most severely traumatized amongst us.

childhood_trauma_aggression_ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. $3.49 CLICK HERE.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma: The Link with Future Violence. Part One.

childhood trauma and violence

A research study (Fonagy et al., 1997) showed that 90% of young offenders had suffered significant childhood trauma, including both abuse and loss (eg. of a parent through divorce). Neglect in childhood was also a very significant factor in greatly increasing the risk of later violent offending. Violent offending following such trauma is sometimes referred to as ‘acting out’.

THE EFFECTS OF LOSS DURING CHILDHOOD.

The psychologist Bowlby (1969) studied the effects of loss in childhood (eg. through parental divorce). He demonstrated that it very often led to the child responding by passing through three stages:

1) PROTEST (due to SEPARATION ANXIETY).

2) DESPAIR (due to grief over the loss. NB. The loss need not be due to death).

3) EMOTIONAL DETACHMENT (a defense mechanism).

Following loss, if the child is not treated sympathetically and emotionally supported, his or her response to the loss can become pathological.

childhood trauma and violence

TYPES OF LOSS.

Two types of loss that the child might experience are death of a parent or parental divorce. But a feeling of loss can, in fact, be just as damaging (or, indeed, even more damaging) following less overt forms of loss. For example:

-parental rejection
-parental threats to abandon the child
-parental neglect/lack of emotional involvement
-parental abuse
-parents not giving the child love

Later work by Bowlby (1979) has shown that children often ‘re-experience’ their childhood loss in later life when faced with further separation and loss, or the threat of it, in their adult relationships. This may be expressed by the individual ‘re-experiencing’ his or her feelings of childhood loss by reacting with violence, anger and hatred.

Furthermore, these dysfunctional response patterns are resistant to change as the individual’s perception of adult relationships becomes distorted by their experience of childhood loss (in essence, leading to error-correcting information being defensively and selectively excluded from consciousness).

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND LATER DIFFICULTIES REGULATING INTERNAL STATES/EMOTIONS.

Further research (Van der Kolk et al., 1995) has shown that childhood trauma can lead to the individual experiencing a deep feeling of terror which he or she is unable to articulate; this in turn leads to the individual experiencing extreme problems in relation to regulating internal states/emotions. Indeed, this dysfunction is biological in origin, as the biological state of the individual has been adversely affected by the childhood trauma.

HABITUAL AND REPETITIVE RELATIONSHIP DIFFICULTIES (ATTACHMENT DISORDER) IN ADULT LIFE FOLLOWING CHILDHOOD TRAUMA.

It has also been demonstrated by research that, following loss-related childhood trauma, the individual’s adult relationships very frequently induce great feelings of insecurity (‘attachment insecurity’/attachment disorder/attachment anxiety) in later life and that these reponses to interpersonal relationships become repetitive and habitual.This can, and, often does, lead the individual to adopt dysfunctional coping strategies including alcohol and drug misuse, violence and crime.

 

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

Borderline Personality Disorder: Raising Our Self-Esteem.

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THINKING BADLY ABOUT OURSELVES?

Individuals with low self-esteem constantly criticize themselves. We may even META-CRITICIZE ourselves (criticize ourselves for criticizing ourselves). We oftemn focus on mistakes and over-generalize from them, believing that these mistakes completely define us as a person (thus losing perspective and ignoring the positive things about ourselves; in other words, being biased against ourselves, often because we have been programmed to dislike ourselves during childhood).

This faulty thinking style leads to depression, guilt and low confidence. We may think of ourselves as: -stupid -unlikeable -inferior -weak -incompetent etc,etc…

We need to question our negative beliefs about ourselves and ask ourselves: ARE WE CONFUSING OUR THOUGHTS ABOUT OURSELVES WITH THE ACTUAL FACTS? One of the biggest dangers of self-criticism is that it can PARALYZE and DEMORALIZE us, taking away our confidence to try to develop ourselves in life. We feel doomed to perpetual, unremitting failure.

CONSTANTLY CRITICIZING OURSELVES IS UNFAIR:

We would not follow a friend around all day and focus his attention on his every little mistake by loudly announcing it to the exclusion of everything else, so why do we think it fair to do it to ourselves – undermining ourselves, chipping further away at our own precarious confidence?

CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM IS COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC:

Often, we criticize ourselves with the benefit of hindsight – overlooking the fact that it was not possible to have this perspective at the time, and that we reacted AS THINGS APPEARED TO US THEN.

When we criticize ourselves in RETROSPECT, we do so with the benefit of information that was not available to us at the time we acted. CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM PREVENTS US FROM LEARNING:

By constantly criticizing ourselves we take away our confidence to tackle problems in the future that could help develop us as a person; we keep ourselves ‘stuck’. We learn much better by PRAISING OURSELVES FOR WHAT WE DO RIGHT, NOT CRITICIZING OURSELVES FOR WHAT WE DO WRONG.

If we conclude we’re a hopeless failure, condemned to be eternally incompetent and useless, when we get things wrong, we will lose all incentive to perservere and make constructive changes in our lives.

CONSTANT SELF-CRITICISM IS MASOCHISTIC:

By constantly criticizing ourselves, we are kicking ourselves when we are down. We might be criticizing ourselves for such things as lacking confidence or always being miserable. It is important to remember, though, that other people, too, would probably see themselves in the same way if they had had the same experiences as us. It is a NATURAL and COMMON response to stressful events and does not mean that there is anything fundamentally wrong with us.

OVERCOMING OUR CRITICAL THOUGHTS:

-Spotting our self-critical thoughts: self-critical thoughts can become automatic, a routine we have never actively tried to change. We may not even have considered that we can change, assuming they were an essential and intransigent part of our nature.

But changing the way we think about ourselves changes the way we feel and behave, so it is necessary for us to stop being so hard on ourselves and focus much more on our positive qualities an our potential to grow as a person as we would like to.

We need to stop feeling excessive guilt and disappointment in ourselves and realize such thoughts are most probably the result of depressed, faulty self-judgments and do not accurately reflect the person we actually are.

We need to gradually distance ourselves from these erroneous, negative self-descriptions that we have, up until the time we undertake to change, imposed upon ourselves.

Challenging our negative thoughts about ourselves:

When we have negative thoughts about ourselves we can do the following:

-tell ourselves our thoughts about ourselves could be completely mistaken, unrealistic and unfair. Also, they may be caused by an irrational guilt complex and a subsequent unconscious wish to punish ourselves.

-concentrate on all the evidence AGAINST our negative view of ourselves.

-consider other perspectives: are we taking the most negative one possible?

-remind ourselves that our negative thoughts are keeping us stuck in our life situation, making us too depressed, unmotivated and lacking necessary confidence to develop our full potential and to change our lives for the better.

-remind ourselves that we are almost certainly judging ourselves too harshly; much more harshly, say, than we would judge a friend. -remind ourselves that it is irrational to write ourselves off as a person due to some past mistakes and weaknesses. -make more of our strengths and less of our weaknesses.

-stop feeling disproportionately guilty about mistakes made in relation to great stress.

RESOURCES

TEN STEPS TO SOLID SELF-ESTEEM MP3CLICK HERE

CHALLENGING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS MP3CLICK HERE

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

Borderline Personality Disorder And Low Self-Esteem.

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

We come to form our beliefs, including those about ourselves, through our life experiences. Of course, the beliefs we hold because of what has happened to us in life can be very inaccurate.

Experiences that we have early in life have a particularly strong impact on how we feel about ourselves, and, below, I list some that are likely to lead us to develop a feeling of low self-esteem, leading us to dislike ourselves, overly criticize ourselves, lack confidence, feel unlovable and believe we’re not interesting or important:

– our parents treating us as a constant disappointment in childhood
– being bullied/ left out/ maliciously teased when we were at school
-feeling, or being treated, like we don’t fit in at home – ‘black sheep syndrome’
– suffering prejudice and discrimination when we were children
– experiencing systematic and cruel punishment as children
– being neglected when we were children (eg deprived of love, security, interest, praise etc)
– having constantly to cope with a parent’s distress/emotional needs when we were children, at a cost to ourselves.

I elaborate on each of these below:

OUR PARENTS TREATING US AS A CONSTANT DISAPPOINTMENT IN CHILDHOOD:

This can include parents always putting our mistakes and weaknesses in the spotlight whilst simultaneously ignoring our strengths and the positive aspects of ourselves. It can also involve being constantly ridiculed and teased in a hurtful way ( my own mother referred to me as ‘scabby’, because, as a child, I had the nervous habit of picking at scabs on my arms and legs; and also ‘poof’, because I was highly sensitive ). Over time, it is all too easy to become conditioned into believing that there is something FUNDAMENTALLY wrong with us and that we are of no value.

BEING BULLIED/LEFT OUT/MALICIOUSLY TEASED AT SCHOOL:

We all want to be accepted by our peer group when we are young and developing our fragile and vulnerable self-concept. It is a human instinct, particularly pronounced during adolesence, to want to be accepted by the group. We evolved, as a species, after all, as social animals because acceptance by the group added to our chances of survival. It is, therefore, a fundamental psychological drive, created by millions of years of evolution, difficult (putting it mildly), therefore, to overcome.

Indeed, it is so powerful that it can lead to problems such as feeling a need to conform to group expectations even if it makes us uncomfortable (eg feeling a pressure to be confident and jovial when we actually feel depressed and anxious).

If we don’t conform to the expectations of the group (unless one is an exceptionally strong personality, which normally does not materialize until later in life) we may be rejected, bullied and cruelly teased and this can have a very damaging and lasting effect on our self-esteem.

FEELING, OR BEING TREATED, LIKE WE DON’T FIT IN AT HOME:

This is sometimes referred to as ‘being the black sheep of the family’. Perhaps there is something about us that does not fit in. An example might be the central character of the film, ‘BILLY ELLIOT’, who, at a very young age, decides he wants to be a ballet dancer much to the violent chagrin of his tough, alpha-male, former miner father (who would much rather see him incurring possible brain damage in the boxing ring). Or simply being the quiet one, or the introverted one. Obviously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being any of these things, but, if it makes us stand out in the family, we might be treated as odd, a misfit, strange, ‘not quite one of us’ and in some way deficient and of less value. Again, over time, this can significantly wear down our self-esteem and can lead to growing up feeling rather like a pariah.

SUFFERING PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN:

There are many ways in which this can occur – I remember, when I was at school, a boy in my class who came from a very poor and not especially caring family; he was not properly cared for by his parents and used to turn up to school in very tatty and dirty clothes everyday. Cruelly, he was nicknamed ‘Tramp’ by the other boys. Another boy, perhaps slightly effeminate, was always being called ‘Poof’. A third came from the travelling community and was called ‘Dirty Gypo’ and more or less completely ostracized. Children, then, through no fault of their own whatsoever, can become the focus of hostility and contempt. They also, of course, tend to be the most vulnerable, already struggling with self-image.

Such treatment, particularly if the child has a lack of solid emotional support at home, can have long-lasting effects on self-esteem.

EXPERIENCING SYSTEMATIC AND CRUEL PUNISHMENT:

If we are often severely and unfairly punished as children, we may come to equate the fact with meaning we must be a bad person, that we have somehow brought it upon ourselves, and that we deserve it. This, especially, becomes true if the punishment is inconsistent and unpredictable (eg more to do with the parent’s mood and lack of self-control than what the child has actually done), extreme and the child does not understand what he/she is supposed to have done wrong.

Also, more ‘subtle’ punishments, such as being ‘given the silent treatment’ ( my mother had this down to a fine art) can be equally damaging.

Such treatment is another very high risk factor in relation to causing long-term and severe problems with the development of self-esteem.

BEING NEGLECTED WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN (eg being deprived of love, security, interest, praise etc):

It is not just the presence of bad things in our childhoods which can affect self-esteem adversely, but, also, THE ABSENCE OF GOOD THINGS. These include praise, interest, affection, reassurance of being loved, reassurance of being wanted and reassurance of being valued. In other words, then, it is not just blatantly bad treatment which impacts adversely upon the child’s self-esteem, but, also, the missing fundamental good things.

HAVING CONSTANTLY TO COPE WITH A PARENT’S DISTRESS/EMOTIONAL NEEDS WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN:

Some parents are emotionally immature and, in a kind of role reversal, actually turn to their children for emotional support, as happened in my own case following my parents’divorce when I was eight. Indeed, by the time I was eleven, my mother sometimes referred to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’ (encouraging me to continue in my rather bizarre role). This wa,s obviously, a great psychological burden and caused me great worry and concern.

Also, if there is friction in the parents’ marriage, or other pressures, parents can transfer their own distress onto their children and are more likely to become volatile, lose control, become prone to anger or withdrawal due to their own problems. Such deficient parenting, too, can affect the child’s self-esteem.

I hope this post has been of interest to you. My next post, to be published very soon, will look at how, if we have had some of these experiences, we can repair our damaged self-esteem.

Remember, if we have low self-esteem, we will imagine there are things wrong with us that are not, in reality, the case, however powerful the illusion is that they are.

 

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

How Adult Children can Manage Their Relationship with Parents who have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Part 1.

childhood trauma and borderline personality disorder

Children Of Parents With BPD:

Some of us experienced childhood trauma due to a parent being unstable. As has been described in previous posts, BPD causes great instability in individuals, which can have a very serious impact on that individual’s child/ren, so some of us who experienced childhood trauma may have grown up with a parent with BPD. This could have contributed to ourselves developing similar problems, or, even, to us developing BPD ourselves.

However, whatever the state of our mental health, as adults now ourselves, we need to know the best way to manage our relationship with BPD parent/s in the present, and, also, understand what effect our parent/s condition may have had on our own lives. This is of particular interest to me as I was brought up by a highly volatile and extremely unstable mother.

POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON THE CHILD OF A PARENT WITH BPD:

Parents with BPD can lack the necessary resources to bring their children up – in the worst case scenario, this may lead to neglect and/or abuse.

Children of BPD parents have frequently grown up in a highly unstable emotional atmosphere, have witnessed highly distressing behaviour in their parent/s, and, often, have been on the receiving end of extreme hostility, expressed verbally and/or physically. Further, they may have been exploited by their parent/s burdening them with their own emotional problems. My own mother, for example, used me, essentially, as her own private counsellor from when I was about 10 or 11- years- old, and would, on top of this, very often be terrifyingly verbally aggressive and hostile.

With experiences such as these, as adults, we can feel that our childhoods were stolen from us and we may go on to enter a kind of mourning for the childhood we never had.

Being brought up with a parent with BPD leads to a much higher probability of us developing the following problems:

alcoholism – illicit drug use
– depression
anxiety – suicidal feelings/ suicide attempts/ suicide
– behavioural problems eg impulse control
– personality/emotional disorders

Indeed, this is not altogether surprising when it is reflected upon that, as children, we may have been exposed to many long, painful, distressing years of intense conflict and arguments, threats (eg of violence, or, as in my own case, of abandoment),and unpredictable, unstable and highly volatile emotions.

Whilst we may feel deep resentment for the way in which we were treated, not infrequently necessitating professional support to deal with it, it is necessary, also, to keep in mind that our parent/s with BPD have developed it due to their own personal histories,including psychological, biological and social factors. However, this is cold comfort when we are children struggling to understand ourselves and living in a permanent state of acute distress.

POSSIBLE IMPACT OF A PARENT’S BPD ON THE CHILD:

1) The parent’s impulsivity: this could include alcohol, drugs, gambling etc causing enormous anxiety in the child and possibly in him/her developing similar problems in later life (due to the psychological concept known as ‘modelling’).

2) The parent’s dependency on child: for example, the parent may become emotionally dependent upon the child, using him/her as their personal counsellor, which can lead to the child feeling overwhelmed with concern, responsibility and anxiety, leading later to anger and resentment.

3) The parent’s volatility, instability and unpredictability: this, again, often leads to the child developing extreme anxiety and deep concerns about being abandoned – causing long-term, deeply ingrained insecurity (the parent may threaten to send the child away to live with relatives or to live in the care system).

4) The parent’s threats of suicide: again, this can lead to the child experiencing acute anxiety, possibly leading, later down the line, to the individual developing his/her own self-harming or suicidal behaviour.

5) The parent’s ambiguity towards the child: technically, this is known as ‘SPLITTING’- being consumed with passionate hatred towards the child one day, but then giving him/her extravagant praise the next – these polarized attitudes towards the child vascillating in a deeply confusing fashion.

This will often lead the child to have an extremely unstable identity and self-concept – sometimes feeling they are better than others, but, at other times, feeling worthless, inferior and consumed with self-hatred. Thus, the child can grow up not quite ‘knowing who he/she is’.

This is not an exhaustive list, but, as I am trying to keep these posts to a manageable length and avoid swamping the reader with information, the picture the examples give, I think, is sufficient as an introduction.

Click here for PART TWO.

 

If you would like to view an infographic on the relationship between having a mother with BPD and risk of suicidal behavior, please click here.

borderline personality disorder and childhood traums

The above eBook is now available for immediate download on Amazon. CLICK HERE.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).