Tag Archives: Childhood Trauma Aggression

Effects Of Childhood Trauma

effects of childhood trauma

The effects of childhood trauma can be devastating and, in the absence of effective therapy, can last well into adulthood or even for an entire lifetime.

This website contains over 850  articles, all written by psychologist, writer and educator, David Hosier, BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE), himself a survivor of childhood trauma, on the effects of childhood trauma and closely related topics.

The most well known study on the effects of childhood trauma is called The ACE Study /Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.

The main findings of this extremely important study were as follows :

Those who experience significant childhood trauma are at increased risk of:

  • And, if you explore this website, you will discover that the above list is far from exhaustive when enumerating the myriad effects of childhood trauma.

What Types Of Childhood Trauma Did The Study Focus Upon?

The study focused upon the following types of childhood trauma :

  • Abuse (emotional, sexual or physical)
  • Living in a household within which a family member who was an alcoholic or drug addict
  • Living in a household within which the mother was physically abused
  • Parental divorce/separation
  • Neglect (emotional or physical)
  • Living in a household in which a family member went to prison
  • Living in a household within which a family member suffered from mental illness

NB The study found that the more of these adverse childhood experiences the child suffered, and the more intense and long lasting they were, the greater the child’s risk of developing the problems listed above.

This website takes the ACE study as its starting point and, if you choose to explore it, you can find a wealth of information about :


RESOURCES :

UNLOVED AS A CHILD? | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS  : CLICK HERE

LET GO OF THE PAST | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS : CLICK HERE


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

Childhood Trauma: What Experiments on Causes of Aggression in Rats Tell Us.

high-and -low- functioning-BPD

Effect Of Trauma On Young Rats’ Brains :

A recent Swiss study by Marquez et al. (2013) has looked at the effects of trauma on ‘adolescent’ rats. It was found that those rats who were exposed to trauma (fear and stress inducing stimuli) suffered adverse PHYSICAL EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN (specifically, the PREFRONTAL CORTEX). This, in turn, leads to them displaying significantly more aggressive behavior than non-traumatized rats.

Effect Of Separation From Mothers :

A very similar effect has been found to occur in young rats SEPARATED FROM THEIR MOTHERS.
Furthermore, ‘adolescent’ rats exposed to trauma also develop ANXIETY and DEPRESSION type behaviors. They were found to also have increased activity in the brain region known as the AMYGDALA (which is linked to FEAR and VIOLENCE in humans). Additionally, they developed abnormally high levels of TESTOSTERONE ( a hormone which, in humans, is linked to AGGRESSION and VIOLENCE). Even the rats’ DNA was found to be affected by the trauma (specifically, MAOA genes). These genes act to break down SEROTONIN (a brain chemical, or neurotransmitter) and damage to it leads to too much serotonin being broken down which, in turn, leads to aggressive behaviour.

Comparison With Adult Rats :

However, ADULT RATS exposed to trauma did not undergo the same behavioral changes, so:

THE RESEARCH SUGGESTS IT IS TRAUMA IN EARLY LIFE, RATHER THAN IN ADULTHOOD, WHICH HAS ESPECIALLY DEEP EFFECTS ON THE CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICAL STRUCTURE OF THE BRAIN, THAT LEADS TO A PROPENSITY FOR AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR.

CONCLUSION:

To what degree can we apply these findings to the effects of childhood trauma in HUMANS?

In fact, the findings I’ve outlined above mirror very accurately findings from studies on humans; this suggests that similar physiological processes are going on in both rats and humans as a result of early trauma.

Studies on non-human primates have also given rise to very similar findings.

It is hoped that such research showing that physiological effects of early trauma seem to underlie a development of a greater propensity towards violence and aggression will help lead to drugs being developed that can reverse these physiological effects and therefore reduce levels of aggression in individuals affected by early trauma. With this aim in mind, further human and non-human studies are being conducted.

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

Effects of Childhood Trauma: The Interaction between Nature and Nurture.

TONY SOPRANO: And to think I’m the cause of it.

DR. MALFI: How are you the cause of it?

TONY SOPRANO: It’s in his blood, this miserable fucking existence. My rotten fucking putrid genes have infected my kid’s soul. That’s my gift to my son.

Studies have shown that male children who are severely maltreated are more prone to anti-social and violent behaviour in later life. Is this due to their parents passing on ‘bad’ genes, the child growing up in a ‘bad’ environment, or a combination of the two?

A study by Moffit et al looked at how children’s genes interacted with their environment to produce (or not to produce) later anti-social behaviour.

The study focused upon one particular group of genes known as MAOA genes (MAOA is an abbreviation for the brain chemical MONOAMINE OXIDASE A).

It was found that those with high activity MAOA genes were, in the main, protected from the potential adverse effects of the problematic environment in which they were brought up:

THEIR HIGH ACTIVITY MAOA GENES MADE THEM RESILIENT AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES WHICH CAN OTHERWISE LEAD TO AN ANTI-SOCIAL PERSONALITY.

The opposite was the case for those who had low activity MAOA genes:

THOSE WITH LOW ACTIVITY MAOA GENES WERE MUCH MORE LIKELY TO DEVELOP ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR PATTERNS IF THEY WERE MALTREATED AS CHILDREN COMPARED TO THOSE WITH HIGH ACTIVITY MAOA GENES.

In the study, those in the second group (low activity MAOA genes) commited four times as many assaults, robberies and rapes.

WHAT CAN BE CONCLUDED FROM THIS?

It seems, therefore, that PARTICULARLY BAD OUTCOMES, IN TERMS OF PROPENSITY TO DEVELOP ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, are much more likely if the individual in question has had BOTH a ‘bad’ childhood environment AND has inherited ‘bad’ genes (low activity MAOA genes). Indeed, it would appear that the JOINT EFFECT of BOTH is GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS of the two factors.

This finding has been confirmed by other studies showing that low activity MOAO genes are connected with the development of anti-social behaviour.

TREATMENT IMPLICATIONS:

These findings have implications for treatment of psychological conditions associated with aggression as there are drugs which alter brain neurochemistry by acting upon monoamine oxidase. However, it should be noted that these drugs are not without risk and cannot always be guaranteed to be helpful. All treatment options require consultations with the relevant medical experts.

If you would like to view an infographic which shows how childhood trauma and genes interact to produce vulnerability to various conditions please click here,

 

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

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