Tag Archives: Childhood Trauma

Increased Risk Of STDs In Adults Who Experienced Childhood Trauma

 

 

We now know, as has been shown in a very large (and increasing) body of research, the most well known of which is the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Survey, that the more adverse childhood experiences we suffer. the greater is our risk of later developing various psychological and physical illnesses (indeed, those who have suffered significant chronic trauma as children have, on average, a reduced life expectancy and age at a faster rate compared to those fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable and secure childhood. For example, those who suffered, as children, severe enough chronic trauma to have gone on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) in adulthood may, without appropriate therapeutic intervention may have a life expectancy that is 19 years below the average.

 

WHY MIGHT THOSE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED SIGNIFICANT CHILDHOOD TRAUMA BE AT INCREASED RISK OF CONTRACTING SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (STDs)?

 

  1. IMPAIRED IMMUNITY: Research suggests that childhood trauma can weaken our immune systems which, in turn, makes us more vulnerable to contracting diseases including, of course, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  2. INCREASED RISK TAKING: It has also been found that those who have suffered childhood trauma are less averse to taking risks than average and this includes a greater than average propensity to taking sexual risks.
  3. ALCOHOL/DRUGS: Those who have had traumatic childhoods are more likely than average to develop problems relating to alcohol and drugs which, in turn, can lower inhibitions with obvious knock-on effects in relation to sexual behaviour.
  4. PSYCHOLOGICAL PAIN/DISSOCIATION/PROMISCUOUS SEX: Those who have suffered significant childhood trauma may suffer chronic psychological pain as adults from which they desperately need to escape – such mental escape is known by psychologists as dissociation and sex can allow a person temporarily to dissociate. Seeking such a dissociative state through sex can, therefore, become addictive (in the same way as using alcohol and drugs to detract from mental anguish can become addictive); it is easy to see, therefore, why survivors of childhood trauma may become sexually promiscuous.
  5. FEELINGS OF REJECTION/INFERIORITY: If we were rejected by parents in childhood we may grow up feeling unwanted and inferior; frequent, casual sex can make individuals feel temporarily desirable and special, acting as an ephemeral antidote to these negative feelings. However, once the sexual encounter is over, the individual will often be left feeling empty, ashamed and of as little worth as a human being as ever.
  6. LONELINESS: Related to the above, many people who have experienced significant childhood trauma develop serious problems with interpersonal relationships as adults, leaving them feeling socially isolated and alone; again, casual, promiscuous sex can provide temporary relief, but also involve the drawbacks mentioned above.

EXAMPLES OF RELEVANT RESEARCH :

Research conducted by Haydon et al. (2010) found that young women who had experienced physical neglect in childhood were at higher risk than average of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Wilson and Widom (2009) conducted a 30-year prospective study and found greater reporting of having suffered more than one sexually transmitted disease (STD) by participants who had suffered childhood trauma or neglect compared to controls.

Madrano and Hatch (2009) conducted research that found the greater the severity of abuse (physical, sexual and emotional) female participants had experienced in childhood the more sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), on average, they were likely to have contracted.

CONCLUSION:

The above serves to add further evidence to an already very large body of research demonstrating the potential impact of childhood trauma on adult health.

RELATED ARTICLES :

 

Effects Of Interpersonal Childhood Trauma Sexuality

The Link Between Childhood Trauma, Psychopathology And Sexual Orientation.

Childhood Trauma And Hypersexuality

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

ADHD And Its Link To Childhood Trauma And A Negative Thinking Bias

There is increasing evidence derived from research studies that ADHD is linked to psychosocial stress, particularly childhood trauma which has been established as a major factor putting the child at increased risk of developing ADHD (e.g. Stevens et al., 2007).

Indeed, there is a growing school of thought expressing the view that many individuals are receiving a diagnosis of ADHD which is erroneous (i.e. a misdiagnosis) and, instead, should have received a diagnosis relating to the effects of traumatic stress (such as complex posttraumatic stress disorder – see my article entitled :Childhood Trauma And ADHD : Is PTSD BEING MISDIAGNOSED AS ADHD?

Negative Thinking Styles May Develop As A Result Of Childhood Trauma :

One major effect of childhood trauma can be to cause us to develop a negative thinking style, particularly if we were rejected, constantly criticized, made to feel unsafe, were denied affection or were neglected and / or otherwise abused.

Recent research suggests that the negative thinking resulting from the experience of childhood trauma can contribute to the development of ADHD. (SEE BELOW).

NEGATIVE MEMORY BIAS :

Several studies have focused on a particular type of negative thinking that researchers refer to as : NEGATIVE MEMORY BIAS (this refers to the tendeny to recall and recollect negative memories, rather than positive ones, particular when it comes to memories relevant to oneself, a phenomenon already known to put individuals at risk of developing emotional problems).

STUDIES INVESTIGATING THE LINK BETWEEN NEGATIVE MEMORY BIAS AND ADHD :

A study conducted by Krauel (2009) found that teenagers diagnosed with ADHD displayed less positive memory bias than non-ADHD individuals.

Another study, carried out by d’Acremont and Van der Linden (2007) found that individuals with ADHD symptoms were better able to recall faces with a negative expression (anger) than they were able to remember faces with a positive (happy) expression.

A further study (Vrijsen et al., 2017) suggests that the link between childhood trauma and ADHD symptoms may be, in part, mediated (i.e. brought about) by the negative memory bias caused by the childhood trauma. So, according to this study, the effect of childhood trauma on the development of ADHD symptoms is an indirect one (though more research is needed to investigate this preliminary finding further).

Implications For Treatment :

If, indeed, such negative memory bias contibutes to the development of ADHD, and further research backs up the hypothesis, then this will serve to elucidate understanding about the relationship between psychosocial stressors (particularly childhood trauma), negative memory bias and ADHD, thereby possibly ifluencing the direction of research into therapy for ADHD in the future.

 

RESOURCES :

Improve Impulse Control

Manage ADHD

Be Less Negative Pack 

 

RELATED ARTICLE : Childhood Trauma And ADHD : Is PTSD BEING MISDIAGNOSED AS ADHD?

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

 

Effects Of Interpersonal Childhood Trauma On Sexuality

According to the traumagenic dynamics model (Finkelhor and Browne), severe and protracted childhood interpersonal childhood trauma (interpersonal trauma refers to types of trauma that occur between the child and significant others e,g, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and witnessing domestic violence) can give rise to pervasive feelings of betrayal, powerlessness, stigmatization and traumatic sexualization, which in turn, can have extremely adverse effects upon self-image, one’s view of the world and one’s emotional responses.

This can then lead to two contrasting negative effects upon the individual’s sexuality :

  • some may respond by becoming sexually compulsive

  • others may respond by becoming sexually avoidant

Sexual compulsion is sometimes referred to as hypersexuality and involves the individual being preoccupied (to the extent that it causes the individual distress and / or negatively impacts important parts of his / her life such as physical health, vocation and relationships) with urges, fantasies and / or activities that are hard to keep under control ; these may include excessive promiscuity, risky sex, masturbation, paying for prostitutes, pornography and cybersex.

The term ‘sexual avoidance,’ on the other hand, refers to chronic lack of sexual desire which has serious adverse effects upon the individual’s quality of life ; if the extent of sexual avoidance and related symptoms meet a certain threshold, it can be diagnosed as sexual aversion disorder. A person suffering from this disorder may avoid sex due to feelings of fear, revulsion and disgust in relation to sexual activity and suffer panic attacks at the thought of participating in it ; this, in turn, can, of course, seriously damage intimate relationships.

Both sexual avoidance and sexual compulsion are thought to be defense mechanisms (albeit dysfunctional ones) serving to protect the individual from intrusive, traumatic memories and flashbacks, or to reduce feelings of low self-esteem related to the devastating effects of the original childhood, interpersonal trauma. For example, a person with very low self-esteem may compulsively try to attract sexual partners to help him / her feel ‘desired’, ‘wanted’ or ‘loved’, however illusory, fleeting and superficial such faux-feelings may be.

Such promiscuity undertaken in a (futile) attempt to bolster self-esteem can, of course, ultimately serve only exacerbate feelings of loneliness, emptiness, guilt and shame ; indeed, it should be noted that some individuals alternate between periods of sexual compulsion and periods of avoidance. This ambivalence towards the concept of sexual activity reflects how individuals can be prone to switch between sexually compulsive behavior – in a desperate attempt to feel better – and sexually avoidant behavior – when they realize such behavior has left them feeling even worse).

Finally, it should be stated that research suggests sexual dysfunctional behavior not only can affect those who have experienced interpersonal trauma through sexual abuse, but also through physical and psychological abuse, as well.

RESOURCE :

How to Overcome Sexual Addiction | Self Hypnosis Downloads. CLICK HERE.

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

Childhood Trauma Leading To Over-Dominant Brain Stem

A simplified way of describing the structure of the brain is to think of it as comprising three main regions that develop in the following order from birth to a person’s early or mid-twenties.

FIRST TO DEVELOP: The brain stem and midbrain :

Main functions : Sensory / motor and basic survival mechanisms (‘fight / flight’)

SECOND TO DEVELOP: The limbic brain :

Main functions: Emotional development, behaviour and attachment

THIRD TO DEVELOP: The cortical brain :

Main function: inhibition, thinking, language, planning, decision-making, abstract thought and learning.

 

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND THE BRAIN :

As described above, it is the brain stem’s function to preserve our safety in dangerous situations (by physiologically preparing us for ‘fight or flight‘).

However, when a child has been traumatized over an extended period and has been excessively exposed to frightening situations, the brain stem can become overactive and over-dominant so that the brain is on a constant state of ‘red-alert’ (giving rise to feelings of hypervigilance, edginess, agitation and constant fear) even in situations which are, in objective terms, very safe.

IN SHORT, THE CHILD BECOMES ‘LOCKED INTO SURVIVAL MODE’, primed to lash out (figuratively or literally) or run away (again, figuratively or literally). And, of course, in the case of the former, this can lead to him/her being wrongly labelled as ‘bad’ whereas, in fact, his or her behaviour is essentially due to what can reasonably be described as brain injury incurred due to the traumatic events to which s/he has been subjected over a protracted period.

 

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT AND ASSOCIATED PROBLEMS :

Such children are, in effect, ‘stuck’ at the first stage of brain development shown above (i.e. the brain stem/midbrain developmental stage).

Unfortunately, this means the child is not only locked into feeling constantly hyperalert to anticipated danger and profoundly unsafe but can suffer from other significant impairments (see below):

 

OTHER PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH BEING STUCK AT THE STAGE OF BRAIN STEM DEVELOPMENT :

Being locked into the brain stem development stage also prevents the higher regions of the brain (i.e. the limbic brain and the cortical brain, as described above) from developing correctly, and, therefore, also from functioning correctly.

This can mean that the child is unable to form attachments or control his/her emotions (due to the damage done to the ‘limbic brain‘ ) and is also unable properly to perform the functions of the ‘cortical brain’, including inhibition (leading to impulsive behaviour), planning, decision-making, reflecting and learning. Such problems can manifest themselves in numerous ways, including being unable to form friendships at school, ‘misbehaving’ in class and learning difficulties).

 

THERAPIES :

Bottom-Up’ (as opposed to ‘Top-Down’) therapies such as SENSORIMOTOR PSYCHOTHERAPY can be of benefit to individuals affected by ‘brain stem’ associated problems, and it is generally agreed that these problems should be addressed prior to addressing issues related to the ‘limbic brain’ and ‘cortical brain.’

There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that the traumatised brain may also be helped to recover using a treatment known as neurofeedback.

 

eBook :

How Childhood Trauma Can Physically Damage The Developing Brain (And How These Effects Can Be Reversed).

 

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

 

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

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.

RESOURCE :

Overcome Fear of Eye Contact | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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