For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Tag Archives: Childhood Trauma

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 :

Childhood_trauma

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).

Childhood Trauma, The Shame Loop And Defenses Against Shame

The Agonizing Effects Of Shame

Feelings of shame can be excruciatingly painful; at their worst, they can cause us to completely isolate ourselves so that we avoid contact with others to the extent that we may become virtual recluses, perhaps only daring to venture out of our house or flat when absolutely necessary. Indeed, the word ‘shame‘ derives from the Indian word ‘sham‘ which means ‘to hide.’

What Is Shame?

When we feel ashamed we feel very negatively about ourselves and believe we are, to put it simply, a deeply bad person. We also tend to assume that others are judging us in a similarly disparaging manner. The sensation of shame also frequently involves feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, incompetence, self-disgust, self-hatred, anxiety, anger, bodily tension, nausea and sweating/feeling too hot.

Effects On Relationships :

Because of our own jaundiced and self-lacerating view of ourselves, we assume others will feel the same way about us (or soon will do once they discover’ what a ‘horrible and disgusting’ person we are). We therefore avoid trying to form close relationships, believing such efforts to be futile given that we will ‘inevitably be rejected’ once the ‘real’ us is ‘discovered.’

Other Possible Effects Of Shame :

We may also try to psychologically defend ourselves from deep rooted feelings of shame. For example :

– we may become preoccupied with managing a superficial image of ourselves when interacting with others which we desperately hope will keep ‘our true badness‘ concealed; this can lead to the creation of a ‘false self’ which precludes any chance of authentic or meaningful interaction with others (in other words, we ‘become afraid to be who we are’).

   – perfectionism / ‘workaholism’ (in a desperate attempt to compensate for the profound inner feelings of inadequacy and inferiority that may accompany a pervasive sense of shame).’Workaholism’ and perfectionism are both extremely precarious ways of maintaining some semblance of self-respect and self-esteem as we tend to continually set ourselves targets which, inevitably, we sometimes fail to achieve. We are then highly vulnerable to suffering a catastrophic collapse in our sense of self-worth as it has not been built upon strong enough, nor sustainable, foundations.

 

Differentiating Between Three Types Of Shame :

We can differentiate between three specific types of shame. These are :

1) INTERNAL SHAME

2) EXTERNAL SHAME

3) REFLECTED SHAME

I define these three types of shame below :

Internal Shame : this is a sense of shame we feel about ourselves

External Shame : this is when we perceive that others have a very low view of us which makes us feel ashamed

Reflected Shame : this is when we feel shame vicariously due to how someone else connected yo us has behaved, such as a family member or a member of a group with which we identify.

Often, a sense of internal shame and external shame co-exist within the same person. However, in the case of shame related to childhood trauma, we may (irrationally) feel a strong sense of internal shame even though we can accept that others are not negatively evaluating us as a result of what happened to us (i.e. there is an absence of external shame).

 

 

THE SHAME LOOP :

Scheff (1990) proposes that in response to a childhood in which we were persistently shamed to a significant degree we can become trapped in a SHAME LOOP in which :

  • (Stage one) shame becomes internalized and cannot be discharged which, in turn, leads to :
  • (Stage two) feeling shame for feeling ashamed, which results in :
  • (Stage three) the feelings of shame intensifying ; this builds up even greater feelings of shames being fed back into the shame loop so that :
  • Stage one is reactivated with still greater destructive energy and the cycle, in the absence of effective therapeutic intervention, is reinvigorated.

RELUCTANCE TO SEEK TREATMENT :

And, as you might guess, because individuals feel shame for feeling ashamed, they find it very hard indeed to confide in others about what they perceive as their ‘dark secret’, thus failing to seek professional help and compounding their problems.

 

DEFENSES AGAINST INTENSE FEELINGS OF SHAME :

 

Nathanson (1992) identified four main ways in which an individual may respond to feelings of shame in an attempt (conscious or unconscious) to defend and protect him/herself from the emotional suffering such feelings can evoke.

The Four Defenses Against Shame :

Nathanson proposed that the main four defense mechanisms employed against shame (which he believed to be largely learned in early childhood to protect the self from intolerable feelings) are :

Nathanson also suggests that whilst individuals may employ more than one of the above defenses against shame (depending upon the particular conditions which have given rise feelings of shame) they tend to have a kind of ‘default mode’ (i.e. a specific main defensive strategy against shame) which they most frequently rely upon.

The Compass Of Shame :

Nathanson referred to the above four defenses against shame (withdrawal, attack self, avoidance, attack others) as making up what he referred to as ‘The Compass Of Shame‘. He further explained that all four defenses were best seen as existing on a continuum running from ‘mild’ to ‘extreme’.

So, for example, a ‘mild’ enactment of withdrawal is the aversion of one’s gaze whereas, at the ‘extreme’ end of the spectrum, one might withdraw from others completely and live in a wooden hut in the forest as a hermit.

shame

The Continuums :

So now let’s briefly look at the four continuums upon which the four shame defenses lie :

1) DEFENSE AGAINST SHAME : WITHDRAWAL

MILD END OF CONTINUUM : slumped shoulders, looking downwards, blushing, covering mouth with hand, staying silent, averted gaze, chronic loneliness

EXTREME END OF CONTINUUM : physical, cognitive and emotional withdrawal, isolation, depression, retreat into ‘own internal world’, chronic loneliness, presentation of only a false and superficial self to the world, hypersensitivity to rejection and criticism (particularly criticism of character)

2) DEFENSE AGAINST SHAME : ATTACK SELF

MILD END OF CONTINUUM : deferential behavior, modesty, shyness, self-deprecating humor

MIDDLE OF CONTINUUM : self-sabotage, self-neglect, self-humiliation, self-effacement, obsequiousness, subservience

EXTREME END OF CONTINUUM : self-hatred, self-disgust, self-contempt, masochism, self-debasement, self-harm (e.g. cutting self, burning self with cigarettes etc), suicidal ideation / suicidal behavior

3) DEFENSE AGAINST SHAME : AVOIDANCE

MILD END OF CONTINUUM : self-deception, disowned shame, self-deprecating charm, impostor syndrome

MIDDLE OF CONTINUUM : ostentatious behavior / displays of wealth (jewelry, clothes etc.) arrogance,  competitiveness, thrill seeking / risk taking, hedonism, perfectionism,

EXTREME END OF CONTINUUM : pathological lying narcissism, grandiosity, self-aggrandisement, addictions (e.g excessive use of alcohol, obsessive sexual activity,

4) DEFENSE AGAINST SHAME : ATTACK OTHERS

MILD END OF CONTINUUM : teasing, put downs, banter

MIDDLE OF CONTINUUM : bullying, humiliated fury, rage

EXTREME END OF CONTINUUM : violence

Whilst some of the above defenses against shame are clearly healthier than others, even these mostly fail to fully alleviate deeply entrenched shameful feelings – in such cases, therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and compassion-focused therapy can be of significant benefit.

CONFIDENCE ONLINE TRAINER COURSE

LET GO OF SHAME : SELF-HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

Other Articles On Shame And Self-Hatred :

RETURN HOME TO ABOUT CHILDHOOD TRAUMA RECOVERY

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Why Complex PTSD Sufferers May Avoid Eye Contact

A study by Lanius  et al. was conducted to cast light upon why many with individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including those suffering from complex-PTSD, often find it excruciatingly uncomfortable every time the rules of social etiquette compel them to make eye to eye contact with another human being (I, myself once attempted to circumvent this problem by deliberately buying a pair of glasses with lenses that were by far the wrong strength for me so that, whilst, to whomever it was I was required, as the law of social norms decrees, to make eye contact, I appeared to be doing so in the conventionally stipulated manner,  in fact, all that my eyes were actually meeting with was a comfortingly, non-threatening blur).

Returning to Lanius’ et al.’s experiment :

The experiment consisted of two groups :

1) Survivors of chronic trauma

2) ‘Normal’ controls

What Did The Experiment Involve?

Participants from both of the above groups were subjected to brain scans whilst a making eye to eye contact with a video character in such a way as to mimic real life face to face  contact.

What Were The Results Of The Experiment?

In the case of the ‘normal’ controls (i.e. those who had NOT suffered significant trauma), the simulated eye to eye contact with the video character caused the are of the brain known as the PREFRONTAL CORTEX to become ACTIVATED.

HOWEVER:

In the case of the chronic trauma survivors, the same simulated eye contact with the video character did NOT cause activation of the PREFRONTAL CORTEX. Instead, the scans revealed that, in response to the simulated eye contact, the part of the chronic trauma survivors’ brains that WAS ACTIVATED was a very primitive part (located deep inside the emotional brain) known as the PERIAQUEDUCTAL GRAY.

INTERPRETATION OF THESE RESULTS :

The prefrontal cortex helps us judge and assess a person when we make eye contact, so we can determine whether their intentions seem good or ill.

However, the periaqueductal gray  region is associated with SELF-PROTECTIVE RESPONSES such as hypervigilance, submission and cowering.

Therefore, we can infer that those with PTSD / complex PTSD may find it hard to make eye contact because their brains have been adversely affected, as a result of their traumatic experiences, in such a way that, when they make eye contact with another person, the ‘appraisal’ stage of the interaction (normally carried out by the prefrontal cortex) is missed out and, instead, their brains, due to activation of the periqueductal region, cause an intensely fearful response.

This constitutes yet another example of how severe and protracted childhood trauma can damage the physical development of the brain.

Link : Lanius et al’s study.

eBook :

childhood-trauma-brain

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further details.

Overcome Fear of Eye Contact | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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

Postpartum Depression And Childhood Trauma

postpartum_depression
childhood-trauma-recovery

A study conducted by Choi et al., (2017) suggests that women who have suffered from traumatic childhoods are at higher risk than average of suffering from postpartum depression.

 

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (also called postnatal depression) is a sub-type of depression which occurs within twelve months of the baby’s birth and affects over 10 per cent of women (it can also affect the father / partner, although this is rarer).

Symptoms may include :

  • feeling one cannot care for the baby adequately
  • frustration, anger and irritability
  • feelings of guilt / shame
  • feelings of emptiness
  • problems bonding with baby
  • anxiety and sadness
  • anhedonia
  • decreased or increased appetite
  • insomnia
  • social withdrawal
  • poor self-care
  • fear of hurting self, partner or baby
  • impaired ability to make decisions
  • extreme fatigue / lethargy

N.B. The above list is not exhaustive

 

The Study :

The study involved one hundred and fifty adult, female participants, each of whom provided self-reports about :

  • whether they had suffered childhood trauma
  • whether they had suffered postpartum depression during the first six months following the birth of their child

Also measured, a year after the birth of the baby, were :

  • the quality of mother / infant bonding
  • infant development
  • the physical growth of the infant

mother-and-baby-jpg

 

RESULTS OF THE STUDY :

The main findings of the study were as follows :

  • those women who had experienced childhood trauma had significantly greater symptoms of depression in the six months following the birth of the baby compared to those women who took part in the study and had not experienced childhood trauma
  • one year after the women had given birth to the child those women who had developed postpartum depression, on average, bonded significantly less well with their babies compared to the group of women who had not developed postpartum depression
  • one year after the women had given birth to the child those children born to the women who had suffered postpartum depression were, on average, significantly less well physically developed than the infants of the women who had not developed postpartum depression

From these findings the researchers concluded that those women who had suffered childhood trauma were more likely to suffer postpartum depression which, in turn, increased risk of impaired mother-infant bonding and sub-optimal physical development of their children.

 

CONCLUSION :

The researchers concluded that perinatal care should address both maternal histories of childhood trauma as well as depressive symptoms.

It should also be noted that, as well as stressful life events potentially contributing to the development of postpartum depression, genetics and hormonal changes may well also play a part ; more research is needed.

 

RESOURCE :

 

Overcome Postnatal Depression | Self Hypnosis Downloads

 

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

 

Marriage Counseling can Help with Childhood Trauma Affecting Your Marriage

Is Your Childhood Trauma Affecting Your Marriage?

(Guest post by Marie Miguel).

It’s no secret by now that the trauma you experience as a child can haunt you into adulthood. Being abused as a child can make you aggressive, timid, or experience other emotions or behaviors that can affect your marriage.

 

If you believe that your childhood may be affecting your marriage, it’s worth it to talk to a counselor. Here are a few ways a traumatic childhood can change your marriage.

 

Neglect Can Make You Feel Avoidant or Fearful

 

If your needs were neglected by your parents, you may have a difficult time trusting your partner, even if all evidence points to them being loved. You may feel that one day, your partner will leave you, and you don’t want to show any affection because you feel your partner will not like it. You may not express your feelings and you may even keep secrets because you don’t want your partner to be mad at you.

 

A Violent Childhood Can Make You Violent

 

There is no excuse for yelling at your spouse or assaulting them. However, it’s also undeniable that a violent past can make you more violent. If you were hurt as a child, you may be prone to anger or outbursts. If you find yourself being violent, seek help as soon as you can.

 

When Your Parents Were Both Neglectful and Provided

 

Sometimes, your parents could have changed from being providing and loving to neglectful. Maybe a change cause this, or another reason. Either way, it can make you feel clingy as an adult. You want your partner to always be around you, and any change in your relationship makes you feel paranoid.

 

These are just a few ways how a traumatic childhood can affect you. It’s no excuse for any of these behaviors, but instead an explanation. In the end, it’s up to you to get the help you need, and a marriage counselor can help. Here are a few ways the can help.

 

Helps You Identify the Source of Trauma

 

Sometimes, you may not know that your childhood trauma is making you act this way. Other times, you may have blocked the trauma out of your memory, and it’s lurking in your unconscious mind. A counselor helps with both of these situations by talking to you and allowing the memories to come out naturally. Once you’re able to find the source, you can work to fix it.

 

Helps Your Partner Understand

 

It can be hard for your partner to understand why their spouse behaves in a certain way, even if they know about the past trauma. They may not realize how the trauma can change how they see things and how they act. A counselor will help the partner to empathize while the person is being treated.

 

They Can Help the Person Move On

 

The goal of counseling is to help the person move on from the trauma. This isn’t to say they’ll forget it, but instead not let it affect their life. This can be difficult and can require much therapy. Sometimes, it may require the person to act out their trauma and have a favorable outcome. Other times, they use cognitive behavioral therapy to change how they think. Either way, this can allow the person to move on.

 

Seek Help!

If you’re having trouble in your marriage, speak to a counselor. Online counseling services such as BetterHelp allow for counseling at any time and for any situation. Don’t let a past trauma ruin your relationship. Learn how you can move on and enjoy your life.

Marie Miguel Biography

 

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

 

 

Splitting, Denial And Flooding : The Inter-relationship

childhood trauma, splitting, denial and flooding

childhood trauma, splitting, denial, flooding

‘SPLITTING’ :

This is an unconscious defense mechanism that involves us seeing things in extreme and exaggerated ways, either as ALL GOOD or ALL BAD ; this unconscious strategy is often seen in people suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). 

For example, those suffering from this disorder frequently vacillate between, at times, perceiving a friend or partner in an idealized way and then, at other times, often as a result of perceived rejection (which may frequently be a false perception), ‘demonizing’ this same individual.

‘DENIAL’ : A PREREQUISITE OF ‘SPLITTING’ :

However, in order for ‘splitting’ to take place, ‘denial’ must take place first. This is because, in reality, in order to see things (and, especially people) as ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’, or, to put it another way, in ‘black or white’, the grey areas must be kept out of conscious awareness – this process, which also occurs on an unconscious level, is known as ‘denial’ and causes our view of things to be skewed and distorted. In essence, denial prevents salient information about whatever (or whoever) it is that we are making a judgment about from permeating our consciousness ; this, in turn, prevents us from considering or taking into account factors that contradict our (unknown to us) biased view, often leading to dysfunctional decisions and reactions.

childhood trauma, splitting, denial and flooding

How ‘Splitting’ And ‘Denial’ Can Lead To ‘Flooding’ :

Paradoxically, although ‘splitting’ and ‘denial’ are, technically speaking, defense mechanisms, their combined effect can be to cause FLOODING, I explain what is meant by ‘flooding’, and how this happens, below :

When ‘splitting’ and ‘denial’ operate together our emotional experience is intensified and and this reaction, in turn, can trigger related, intense memories. This can lead to a sense of our consciousness being ‘flooded’ with copious intense emotions and recollections.

Research conducted by the psychologist Siegel suggests that this overwhelming process of splitting/denial/flooding can be triggered in less than half a minute ; in effect then, it can be like a lightning fast ‘hijack’ of our mental faculties.

If our views are skewed negatively, this can lead to irrational verbal outbursts and behaviors which we are likely to later regret. On the other hand, if they are skewed positively (e.g. idealizing an abusive partner) we are prone to making poor decisions (e.g. remaining in a relationship with an abusive partner).

Link :

Splitting : Effects Of The BPD Parent Seeing The Child In Terms Of ‘All Good’ Or ‘All Bad.’

eBook :

BPD eBook

Above eBook now available for instant download. Click here for further details.

 

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

Overcoming Nightmares And Hallucinations With ‘Paradoxical Intention.’

bpd and neuroimaging
paradoxical intention

Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Adult, Psychiatric Disorders :

We have seen in many other articles that I have published on this site that there is a link between childhood trauma and the later development of a whole array of psychiatric disorders in adulthood (for example, see my article on the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study – sometimes referred to as the ACE Study).

Such psychiatric disorders include major depression, anxiety, alcoholism, borderline personality disorder (BPD), complex posttraumatic stress disorder (cPTSD) and psychosis (including schizophrenia).

All of these conditions may include the symptoms of nightmares and/or hallucinations (borderline personality disorder can sometimes involve brief psychotic episodes, as can depression).

Nightmares, Hallucinations And Trauma-Based Memories :

When nightmares and hallucinations are linked to psychiatric disorders which, in turn, are linked to childhood trauma, it is quite possible that the content of those nightmares and / or hallucinations are founded, at least in part, upon TRAUMA – BASED MEMORIES.

Paradoxical Intention :

paradoxical intention

Of course, the content of nightmares and hallucinations is frequently highly disturbing and distressing – I have had nightmares of such violence that they have, on more than one occasion, caused me to fall out of bed. Frequently, too, I have thrashed about so vigorously in my sleep that I have knocked lamps, clocks, overflowing ashtrays, radios and half-finished cups of tea off my bedside table (although never all at once, albeit small consolation) – however, one possible way to reduce their intensity, or, even, overcome them may, counter-intuitively, according to psychodynamic theory, be facilitated by a process known as PARADOXICAL INTENTION.

Paradoxical intention is a concept first described by Dr Viktor Frankl, the famous psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor who founded Logotherapy, based on the idea that psychological symptoms can be made worse by tying too hard to fight them, summed up by the pithy maxim, ‘What you resist persists.’

So, applying the idea of paradoxical intention to the treatment of nightmares and hallucinations involves a trained psychotherapist encouraging the client to view his/her nightmares and /or hallucinations from a completely different perspective,  i.e. rather than seeing the hallucinations / nightmares as something purely destructive and to be feared, the client is encouraged, instead, to try to see these phenomena as helpful clues (no matter how bizarre and nonsensical they may appear to be on the surface) which can be analyzed and interpreted for salient meanings (whether literal or symbolic), thus helping to expose, and shed light upon, possible trauma-based memories that underpin the individual’s psychiatric condition.

In this way, the client can be both empowered, and, under the care of an appropriately trained psychotherapist, can also be sensitively and compassionately helped to understand, where appropriate, the deep roots of his/her particular psychological difficulties, which may prove to be an effective first step towards ameliorating them.

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further information or to view other titles.

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