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Tag Archives: Childhood Trauma Symptoms

Types Of Childhood Trauma

types-of-childhood-trauma

childhood-trauma-jpg

There are many traumatic events that can befall us in childhood which, as we have seen in other articles I have published on this site, can, potentially, result in us incurring significant and long-lasting psychological damage, especially in the absence of appropriate therapy and meaningful, emotional support from others. 

In this article, I will list several types of childhood trauma that can occur and give a brief explanation to elucidate each of these traumatic events :

TYPES OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA :

 

  • Natural Disasters 
  • Trauma Related To Being A Refugee
  • Living In A Violent Community
  • Medical Trauma
  • Being Affected By Terrorism
  • Abuse (Emotional, Physical, Sexual – the effects of such abuse are significantly worse if the perpetrator is a parent or primary carer)
  • Emotional Neglect
  • Living In A Household In Which There Is Domestic Violence
  • Complex Trauma
  • Early Life Trauma
  • Traumatic / Complex Grief

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

 

 

1) TRAUMA RELATED TO NATURAL DISASTERS :

Natural disasters include floods, hurricanes and droughts. According to Carolyn Kousky, the three main ways in which children can be harmed and traumatized by natural disasters fall into three broad categories (see immediately below) :

Physical Harm :

The examples Kousy provides are : injury ; malnutrition (e.g. due to disrupted food supplies) ; illness caused by contamination ; and disruption to the supply chain of medical equipment / medications.

Harm To Mental Health :

This may be caused by a number of factors. Examples provided by Kousky include : the stress caused by witnessing the natural disaster itself ; damage to their homes / possessions (or, indeed, loss of these) ;  the strain of having to migrate ;  grief due to losing friends / family / loved ones ; abuse and / or neglect which might arise from the situation the find themselves in due to the disaster (e.g. if having to live in a makeshift ‘camp-site in close proximity to strangers or death of primary carers) ; breakdown of their social network ;  and ruined local economies.

Harm To Education :

This may occur due to enforced closure of schools or schools being destroyed (e.g. in the case of a hurricane) ; or because the child is forced to leave school and work in order to earn money to help the family recover from the effects of the disaster.

 

2) TRAUMA RELATED TO BEING A REFUGEE :

Refugee children may experience long-term, toxic stress (which can have damaging effects on both mental and physical health) due to the extreme hardships they face in relation to :

  • the factors (such as war) which forced them to leave their country of origin in the first place
  • the journey to the country of refuge (e.g life-threateningly unsafe sea travel in makeshift, overcrowded craft)
  • resettlement in the country of refuge (including fear of being deported back to their country of origin)

An example of how extreme the stressful effects of being a refugee child is given below :

 

  • Resignation Syndrome :

In Sweden, a research paper published in Acta Paediatricia (a medical journal) has reported that many child refugees, on learning that they and their families are to be deported back to the country from which they had fled, are, as a result, developing ‘RESIGNATION SYNDROME‘ (‘Uppgivenhetssyndrom) which involves them going into a comatose-like state. Extremely disturbingly, those developing the syndrome become bed-ridden (or, at least, confined to a wheel-chair), mute, incontinent and unable to eat or drink (they are, therefore, fed through a tube) and essentially catatonic according to the article.

 

Furthermore, scans of these children’s brains revealed that they had NOT been physically damaged, from which we can infer that the children’s symptoms were psychological in origin – i.e. occurring as a result of their traumatic experiences and terror of being returned back to their country of origin where they may face terrible and terrifying danger, rather than as a result of physical brain damage ; this inference is further supported by the fact that, if the decision to deport them is reversed, they gradually recover from this appalling condition.

 

 

3) TRAUMA RELATED TO LIVING IN A VIOLENT COMMUNITY :

Young people who live in communities in which they are frequently exposed, directly or indirectly, to violence (e.g. in certain economically deprived parts of inner city London) may find themselves living in a constant state of fear about being a victim of violence (e.g. muggings, beatings, stabbings or even shootings). If the exposure to violence (and/or the constant threat of violence) is fairly constant, symptoms of trauma may arise such as frequently being in a state of fight or flight and hypervigilanceindeed, in some cases, individuals may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD).

 

4) MEDICAL TRAUMA :

 

The term ‘medical trauma’ refers to the trauma children may suffer as a result of serious illness or injury, as well as the treatments associated with these. Whilst, all else being equal, the more serious / threatening / endangering the child’s illness / injury / treatment is, the more traumatic it is likely to be, of crucial importance, too, is how serious / threatening / endangering the child PERCEIVES them to be.

Other factors that can affect the child’s emotional response to the his/her illness or injury include :

  • pain due to illness injury itself
  • pain due to treatments / medical interventions
  • the interactions the child has with the medical treatment providers (Marsac et al., 2014)

 

5) TRAUMA RELATED TO BEING AFFECTED BY TERRORISM :

Terrorism, defined as a violent act (e.g. bombing or shooting) against unsuspecting people and countries can have extremely, psychologically (as well, obviously, as physically) damaging effects upon the child which include :

Factors affecting the child’s emotional response to such events include how s/he and his/her family / friends have been affected, his/her personality / temperament and the amount of social support and counselling s/he receives.

 

6) ABUSE :

Please see my previously published article : Childhood Trauma. What Is It?

 

7)  TRAUMA RELATED TO LIVING IN A HOUSEHOLD IN WHICH THERE IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE :

Please see my previously published articles :  

 

 

 

 

 

8) Complex Trauma :

Please see my previously published articles : 

 

 

 

9) Early Life Trauma :

Please see my previously published articles :

 

 

 

 

 

10) Traumatic Grief :

Please see my previously published article :

 

 

Childhood Trauma Symptoms :

 

 

Symptoms of childhood trauma can also be split up into two types : TYPE 1 and TYPE 2 :

 

TYPE 1:

These symptoms tend to come about as a result sudden, unexpected, catastrophic event such as, for example, the threat of death or serious injury (sometimes referred to as ‘critical incidents‘).

Symptoms which may develop in response to such an adverse event may range from, at the mild end of the spectrum, disrupted sleep, worry and feelings of insecurity, to, at the other end of the spectrum, the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is an ongoing condition that may manifest itself through :

-extreme over-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system

-intrusive and distressing memories (flashbacks), nightmares etc

-constant and intense feelings of being under threat

– avoidant behavior (eg an avoidance of social interaction and of situations/activities which trigger disturbing memories of the traumatic event)

NB The above list is not exhaustive.

TYPE 2 :

This category of symptoms may emerge if trauma has continued, repeatedly, over an extended period of time. Often, in these circumstances, the development of symptoms may well be delayed (click here to read my article on this). Symptoms that do eventually develop may include :

– significant difficulties forming and maintaining social relationships (click here to read my article on this)

– problems relating to anger management (click here to read my article on this)

– dissociation (click here to read my article on this)

– a negative cognitive triad (this is a term used by psychologists to refer to a distorted, negative view of the self, others, and the world in general – it may be addressed through a therapy known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – click here to read my article about CBT.

The earlier in life that the extended experience of trauma begins, the more damaging its long-term effects are likely to be (trauma experienced in the first three years of life is known to be particularly harmful).

At the extreme end of the spectrum, extended trauma may lead to personality disorders, especially borderline personality disorder (BPD) – click here to read my article on BPD.

 

A COMBINATION OF TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2 SYMPTOMS OF TRAUMA :

As we have already seen, Type 1 trauma commonly gives rise to symptoms of acute distress and severe over-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, whilst Type 2 trauma frequently results in more complex and deep-rooted adverse changes to the personality.

In some cases, the individual will experience both Type 1 and Type 2 symptoms; for example, a child who is severely abused over a long period of time may initially display Type 1 symptoms and, then, later in life, develop Type 2 symptoms.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS

Due to the highly complex causes of Type 2 symptoms, they will usually need to be addressed through psychotherapy (eg CBT, which I have already referred to, or dialectical behavior therapy, abbreviated to DBT – click here to read my article on DBT).

On the other hand, Type 1 symptoms, at the more mild end of the spectrum, may sometimes be able to be addressed through social support, physical relaxation and sometimes, as a short-term measure, tranquilizers.

NB It is always very important to consult an appropriately qualified professional when considering treatment options for psychological conditions.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Childhood Trauma : Long-Term Effects and Symptoms

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

Although I have written at length about the effects of childhood trauma on our adult life, I thought, in this post, I would simply list these in order to provide an easy reference point to these main symptoms.

You can read my articles about the specific symptoms, and how they relate to childhood  trauma, by clicking where it says ‘click here’ after the specific symptom in which you are interested.

THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS AND SYMPTOMS OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA :

As we have already seen, childhood trauma may be caused by emotional, sexual or physical abuse. If we have experienced it, it can cause us to develop the following symptoms in our adult life :

-poor sense of own identity (click here)

-low self-esteem (click here)

-low confidence

-inability to control our emotions (click here)

-loneliness and social isolation

-perfectionism

-unrealistic guilt (click here)

-anxiety (click here)

-failure syndrome (a feeling that any success we have is undeserved – instead, it is seen as a fluke and there is constant dread that one’s ‘true ineptitude’ (as the individual sees it) will be exposed at any minute

-violent mood swings

-crisis orientation (an intense need to deal with the crises of others)

-depression (click here)

-unresolved anger (click here)

-unresolved resentment

-sexual acting out (click here)

-eating disorders (click here)

-addictions (click here)

-hypochondria

-panic attacks

-phobias

-chronic fatigue syndrome (click here)

-migraine headaches

-codependency (click here)

-inability to form/maintain relationships (click here)

-excessive compliance

-excessive passivity

-borderline personality disorder (BPD) click here

-post traumatic stress disorder/complex post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD?CPTSD) click here

-transference of needs (if we were not loved and shown affection as children we may, in our adult lives, substitute other things for them such as alcohol, drugs, sex and food).

 

Suffering significant childhood trauma is so damaging because it outlives, sometimes by decades (without appropriate therapeutic intervention), the actual period for which the trauma was directly experienced. However, there are effective treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Why We Worry.

Stop worrying

why we worry

Other posts in this category have already dealt with how early life experience of trauma can contribute to us becoming anxious adults, and, also, that the type of negative thinking (cognitive) style we may have developed as a result of the early trauma can perpetuate symptoms of depression and anxiety. But what are the other causes of excessive worrying and what are the other ways of dealing with the problem? It is to this question I now turn:

Stop worrying

CAUSES OF ANXIETY / EXCESSIVE WORRY:

1) OUR GENETIC INHERITANCE: It seems we can inherit a predisposition towards anxiety genetically. This means, for example, if we have a parent who is very anxious, all else being equal, we are more likely to become anxious ourselves due to our genetic inheritance. (Also, of course, if we have a very anxious parent, we are more likely to develop anxious responses due to ‘learned behaviour’ – ie modelling our behavioural reponses on those of the anxious parent). However, the key word here is ‘predisposition’; in other words, having an anxious parent will not guarantee that we, ourselves, will become anxious adults, but, rather, we will be more vulnerable to this happening if other factors also affect us in life (such as those detailed below):

2) LIFE EXPERIENCES: If we have suffered the experience of early life trauma, the damage done by this can be compounded (made worse) by going on to experience yet further trauma in later life. It is particularly unfortunate, then, that early life trauma can in itself create problems for us in later life, thus increasing the probability that further trauma will strike (which is one reason, amongst many others, why early therapeutic intervention is crucial for those affected by childhood trauma).

3) DRUGS: It is not just a side-effect of many illicit drugs which can create anxiety conditions; some prescribed drugs, too, can cause anxiety as a side effect. It is, of course, always important to ask doctors about possible unwanted effects of the medications they may prescribe.

4) INTERNAL CONFLICTS: Sometimes we behave in ways which CONFLICT with our own ideals and values, or the ideals and values we have INTERNALISED from our upbringing and culture (even if we have only internalized them on an unconscious level). Freud believed we all have such internal conflicts, a price he thought was paid for living in a ‘civilized’ society, in which we are compelled to repress many natural human instincts (for those who are interested, you may wish to investigate further Freud’s view of how the ‘Id’ (the name he gave to our instinctual self/basic impulses) and the ‘Superego’ (the name he gave to our conscience/moral selves, which develops due to learning from parents, teachers, society, culture etc) may be constantly ‘at war’ with each other.

Therapists who place emphasis on the link between INTERNAL CONFLICTS and ANXIETY tend to recommend what is known as PSYCHODYNAMIC PSYCHOTHERAPY.

5) NEUROLOGICAL FACTORS: This refers to how the brain we possess is physically set up or ‘wired’ Some of us are, it seems, ‘wired’ in such a way that our ‘internal alarm systems’ are highly sensitive. I have discussed in other posts how the brain’s physical ‘wiring’ can be affected by the experience of early trauma.

ADVERSE EFFECTS OF WORRY :

The harmful effects of worry, quite apart from it being a painful state of mind in per se which stops us enjoying the present (many also worry about the fact that their worrying is spoiling their lives, thus adding an extra, even more superfluous, layer of suffering – this phenomenon is sometimes referred to as METAWORRY), include :

insomnia (e.g. trouble falling asleep. waking too early and being unable to get back to sleep, shallow, unrefreshing, broken sleep and nightmares) ; increased risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) / complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) ; impairment of the immune system (and, therefore, of disease and premature death).

METHODS THAT RESEARCH SUGGESTS CAN BE USEFUL FOR REDUCING WORRY :

1 Mindfulness

2. Accept worry, rather than fight it.

3. Distracting activities

4. Setting aside a 30 minute ‘worry period’ each day. This suggestion comes from Penn University, based upon their research. According to the researchers it can help if, when a worry enters are head we :

a) identify and acknowledge it

b) decide upon a time and place to think about the worry

c) if the worry returns outside of the planned 30 minute ‘worry period’, remind self you will think about it later

d) use the ‘worry period’ proactively and efficiently, focusing on solutions.

5. Physical exercise.

RESOURCES:

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

Childhood Trauma : Kurt Cobain’s Childhood

Kurt Cobain's childhood

I was a big fan of Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) and his band, Nirvana. I therefore remember where I was when I first heard news of his death – it came on the TV in the gym I was in at the time (in an uninspiring town called Watford just north of London, UK, as you ask). I had three things in common with him.

I was born in the same year as he was (1967) and, also like him, had developed a considerable degree of both emotional and behavioural instability (despite doing, somehow, an MSc at the time). Thirdly, we had both experienced significant childhood trauma. (Actually, his parents divorced when he was seven years old, whilst mine had divorced when I was eight years old, so that’s very nearly four things in common. I was not, however, to the best of my recollection, an international grunge rock superstar.)

Like many sensitive children, it was obvious from an early age that Kurt Cobain was very creative. Also, like an increasingly large number of young people these days ( and it is certainly argued in some quarters that this ‘condition’ is over-diagnosed) he was labelled ‘HYPERACTIVE’ – now usually described as having ADHD (‘ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER’) and prescribed the drug called RETALIN (paradoxically, retalin is a derivative of amphetamine which, itself, more usually has a stimulant effect).

Due to his extreme sensitivity, Kurt Cobain experienced great distress and emotional trauma as a result of his parents’ divorce. When this shattering event occurred, he was just seven years old. It is recorded that he reported feeling unloved and deeply insecure after the divorce took place.

On top of all this, his life was made chaotic and disorganized by frequent moves to different geographical locations during which period he stayed with various different sets of relatives; this pattern of constant transience meant relationships he tried to form became disrupted and truncated.

Like many young people suffering from emotional distress, Kurt Cobain learned to mentally ‘escape’ – in his case by losing himself in his music and developing his enormous musical talent.

The psychological symptoms of his tortured emotional state started to manifest themselves in the form of INSOMNIA and a chronic stomach complaint which may well have been PSYCHOSOMATIC in origin ( the word ‘psychosomatic’ refers to the mechanism whereby mental stress causes physical problems – in other words, the mind’s effect upon the body).

In order to try to cope with his feelings of intense pain (both mental and physical) he started to ‘self-medicate’ with narcotics. (Psychologists would describe this as ADOPTING A MALADAPTIVE COPING MECHANISM IN ORDER TO DISSOCIATE FROM INTOLERABLE PAIN; see my post entitled: CHILDHOOD TRAUMA, BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD) AND DISSOCIATION in order to learn more about the phenomenon of dissociation acting as a psychological defense mechanism.)

When his band, Nirvana, became an international sensation, the effects of fame (as many famous people discover too late) caused him further severe stress. He was not comfortable around the media and found the attention, in general, overwhelming and intrusive. He became deeply, clinically depressed, complained that he derived no pleasure whatsoever from performing in front of thousands of adoring fans, and, eventually, attempted suicide in March 1994. He entered a coma and was hospitalized.

Very soon after this, he entered a drug rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles in an attempt to address his drug addiction. Within two days, however, he fled the hospital, and, overwhelmed by feelings of despair and utter hopelessness, committed suicide in his home by first injecting himself with a massive overdose of heroin and then shooting himself in the head using a shotgun.

It is a very sad fact that many talented and creative people seem to be more prone than average to extreme mental turmoil. Kurt Cobain was one such person, and, this, tragically, led to a vastly talented, perceptive and sensitive human being’s life coming to a far too premature end.

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 BEHAVIORS:

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).

Childhood Trauma: The Link with Future Gambling.

gambling addiction

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.

Overcome Gambling Addiction | Self Hypnosis Downloads. Click here for more information

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

Childhood Trauma: The Link with Alcoholism.

childhood trauma and alcoholisms
childhood trauma and alcoholism

Childhood Trauma And Alcoholism

When childhood trauma remains unresolved (i.e. 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.

 

ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE :

There is no precise definition of ‘alcohol dependence’, but it is generally agreed between experts that it usually includes the following features:

– a pattern of daily drinking

– being aware of a compulsion to drink alcohol

– changes in tolerance to the amount of alcohol that can be consumed (in the first stage, tolerance increases,but, eventually, tolerance actually reduces again)

– frequent symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol (commonly referred to as a ‘hangover). Symptoms of this may include : nervousness, shaking, tenseness, agitation (or feeling ‘jittery’ and ‘on edge’), feelings of tension, feelings of sickness/nausea

– finding relief from some or all of the above symptoms by consuming more alcohol

– during any periods of abstinance, finding that the features of dependence on alcohol soon re-emerge

It should be noted that individuals who are considered to have become dependent on alcohol may not have all of the symptoms noted above; however, the more symptoms one possesses, the more seriously dependent upon alcohol one is likely to be. The intensity of these symptoms of alcohol dependence will also vary considerably between individuals.

The cycle below represents the common experience of the highly dependent drinker :

STRATEGIES FOR THE REDUCTION OF ONE’S ALCOHOL INTAKE :

– cut out at least some drinking sessions (eg lunchtime drinking) and, ideally, find something else to occupy the time to act as a distraction (such as actually eating lunch!)

– during drinking sessions, alternate between soft drinks and alcoholic drinks

– avoid drinking environments / the company of people who may pressure you to drink, during periods that you have decided to stay alcohol-free

– if people who are likely to encourage you to drink cannot be avoided, plan how you will resist their influence

– add generous amounts of non-alcoholic mixers to alcoholic drinks where possible, but drink at same speed as you would if the alcohol were less diluted (or slower!)

– avoid falling into social traps that tend to encourage drinking, such as participating in a large, hard-drinking group of people who are buying ’rounds’ for one another where a ‘group mentality’ is likely to predominate

Alcohol, to put it starkly, can destroy lives (see chart below), so, if you feel you have a serious problem, it is strongly advisable to seek professional guidance and support.

RESOURCES :

 

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

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)