Tag Archives: Childhood Trauma

BPD Sufferers May Avoid ‘Mentalising’ Due To Parental Rejection

BPD Sufferers May Avoid 'Mentalising' Due To Rejecting Parents

Peter Fonagy, an internationally renowned clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and expert in borderline psychopathology and early attachment relationships, and who has produced some of the most influential work relating to this field, has stressed the importance of MENTALISING (or, more precisely, the avoidance of it) in relation to borderline personality disorder (BPD).

What Is Meant By The Term ‘Mentalising’?

The term ‘mentalising’ refers to a person’s ability to perceive, understand and make use of other’s emotional states (and their own).

BPD Sufferers May Avoid 'Mentalising' Due To Parental Rejection 1

Why Might Those Suffering From BPD Avoid ‘Mentalising’?

According to Peter Fonagy’s theory, children of cold and rejecting parents avoid mentalising because thinking about their parents’ lack of emotional warmth, rejection, absence of love and, perhaps, even, hatred would be too psychologically distressing and painful.

Prevention Of Recovery :

However, Fonagy also theorizes that this evasion (both conscious and unconscious) of the truth about how one’s parents treated one and felt about one prevents the individual from resolving the trauma and recovering from the emotional mistreatment. He proposes that it is necessary for those suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) to confront, and consciously process, the traumatic elements of their childhoods, and, in particular, their difficult, perhaps tortured, childhood relationships with their parents.

The Need For Understanding And Verbal Expression :

Only by understanding what happened to one in childhood, and by learning to express, verbally, this understanding, Fonagy proposes, is recovery possible.

Conclusion :

Whilst Fonagy’s theory has been influential, some researchers have criticized it for not placing enough emphasis upon the fundamental problem sufferers of borderline personality disorder (BPD) frequently experience – namely their inability to control intense emotional reactions (often referred to as ’emotional dysregulation’ ; to read my previously published article relating to this, entitled ‘Three Types Of Emotional Control Difficulties Resulting From Childhood Trauma’, CLICK HERE. )

Resources :

 

eBook :

 BPD ebook

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Link Between Childhood Trauma, Psychopathology And Sexual Orientation

childhood trauma and sexual orientation

high-and -low- functioning-BPD

Childhood Trauma And Sexual Orientation :

A study, based on statistics and information derived from the National Longitudinal Study Of Adolescent Health (2001-2002) examined the link between sexual orientation and history of childhood maltreatment. This research involved analysis relating to 13,962 participants that comprised young people between the ages of 18 and 27, of which :

  • 227 were gay/lesbian
  • 245 were bisexual
  • 13,490 were heterosexual

One of the primary aims of the study was to examine how sexual orientation was linked to experiences of childhood trauma and it was found that :

  • gay and lesbian participants were more likely to have experienced childhood trauma (including physical and sexual abuse) compared to heterosexuals
  • bisexual participants were also more likely to have experienced childhood trauma (including physical and sexual abuse) compared to heterosexuals

childhood trauma and sexual orientation

Psychopathology :

The study also looked at the prevalence of psychopathology amongst the three groups (see above) of participants and it was fond that :

  • gay and lesbian participants were more likely to have experienced symptoms of psychopathology compared to heterosexuals
  • bisexual participants were also more likely to have experienced symptoms of psychopathology compared to heterosexuals

(Psychopathological symptoms included depression, binge drinking, use of illegal drugs, smoking, alcoholism, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts)

Mediating Factors :

It was also found that :

  • Gay and lesbian participants were more likely to have experienced homelessness / housing adversity than heterosexuals
  • bisexuals were more likely to have experienced homelessness / housing adversity and also more likely to have suffered violence visited upon them by their intimate partners than heterosexuals

Conclusion :

The researchers concluded that factors such as the above, i.e. higher levels of childhood trauma, homelessness / housing adversity and experiences of domestic violence found amongst the gay / lesbian / bisexual population partially mediated (underlay) their higher rates of psychopathology compared to heterosexuals. However, their statistical analysis suggested that only about 10-20 percent of this difference was explained by the factors (childhood trauma, homelessness / housing adversity, domestic violence) described.

More research is necessary to tease out more information about how these various factors inter-relate to one another and what other factors may explain the association between childhood trauma, psychopatholgy and sexual orientation.

RESOURCE :

ACCEPT YOUR SEXUALITY – SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

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

Divorce : Signs Children Are Being Used As Pawns Or Weapons

children used as pawns in divorce

high-and -low- functioning-BPD

Introduction :

I have already published on this site articles which examine the potentially very psychologically damaging effects that divorce, particularly a  divorce that is acrimonious, can inflict upon the child. My own parents divorced when I was eight years old, so I do have some personal experience in relation to this subject.

When parents who separate feel extremely bitter, hostile, or, even, vengeful towards one another, it is a sad fact that some use their own children as pawns, or weapons, in an attempt to hurt and punish one another (or, of course, just one parent may act in this way). When this occurs, the distress the child feels as a result of his/her parents’ divorce is likely to be compounded and potentially induce in him/her a state of profound mental conflict and confusion as a result of split loyalties that are impossible to resolve.

It is important to ask, then, what are the signs that a child is being used as a pawn / weapon in such a manner? I list some of these below:

Signs The Child Is Being Used As A Pawn / Weapon :

  • preventing the child from seeing / speaking to / contacting the other parent
  • deceiving the child into believing that the other parent is to blame for the collapse of the marriage
  • exploiting the child by making him / her a ‘go-between’ / messenger to relay messages, particularly hostile, critical and disparaging messages, to the other parent
  • pressurising the child into taking sides
  • asking the child whom (i.e. which parent) they love more
  • questioning the child about the other parent’s behavior / using the child as a kind of ‘spy’ to gain ‘ incriminating’ information about the other parent
  • cancelling visitation at short notice to punish the other parent
  • causing, on purpose, the child to be late for visitation to punish the other parent
  • undermining the other parent’s reasonable rules, decisions and discipline merely to antagonize and frustrate the  him/her (i.e. the other parent)
  • openly displaying aggression and hostility towards the other parent in front of the child

children used as pawns in divorce

Using The Child As An Emotional Crutch :

When my parents got divorced, my mother started to use me as a sort of personal counsellor ; she even, shamelessly, referred to me as her ‘own Little Psychiatrist’ ; it was always her life we discussed, never, or extremely rarely and briefly, mine. For this reason, and many others which I have written about elsewhere on this site, I feel I was largely robbed of my childhood ; this has had terrible repercussions on my adult life (which I have also written about elsewhere on this site).

Indeed, it is not uncommon for parents, in the wake of a stressful divorce, to treat their child as a confidante, a friend, a spouse or even a parent (click here to read my article about the phenomenon of parentification and its potentially extremely psychologically damaging effects) and use him/her for emotional support that s/he is not developmentally mature enough to cope with and at a time when s/he (the child) is him/herself in particular need of emotional support. This is particularly the case if such confiding in the child involves spitefully ‘turning the child against’ the other parent.

You may also wish to read my post : Parental Alienation Syndrome.

eBook :

emotional abuse book

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

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

What Is ‘The Trauma Model’ Of Mental Disorders?

effects of childhood trauma ebook
high-and -low- functioning-BPD

The Trauma Model Of Mental Disorders :

According to the trauma model of mental disorders (also sometimes referred to as the trauma model of psychopathology), many professionals involved with the treatment of psychiatric disorders (such as psychiatrists) have been excessively preoccupied by the medical model of mental disorders (the medical model stresses the importance of physical factors that may underlie mental disorders such as a person’s genes and/or neurochemistry ; in line with this hypothesis, those who adhere to the medical model of mental disorders focus primarily on psychoactive medication – such as anti-depressants and major tranquilizers – or physical therapies – such as electro-convulsive therapy – as primary treatment choices) at the expense of taking into account the individual’s history of traumatic experience, especially severe and protracted trauma in early childhood.

According to the trauma model, too, significant problems relating to bonding and to the building a healthy, loving, nurturing, dependable relationship between the child and primary caregiver (most frequently the mother) are particularly predictive of such a child developing serious mental health difficulties in later life. However, childhood trauma leading to psychiatric problems in later can also take the form of physical, sexual and emotional abuse (the potentially catastrophic effects of significant and protracted emotional abuse have only recently started to be fully understood).

Significant Psychologists / Psychiatrists Who Have Adopted A Trauma Model Perspective Of Mental Disorders (Past And Present) :

Past psychologists / psychiatrists who have adhered to the trauma model of mental disorders include Arieti, Freud, Lidz, Bowlby, R.D. Laing and Colin Ross (see below for further, brief details) :

 

  • Arieti (1914-1981) advocated the treatment of those suffering from schizophrenia using psychotherapy
  • Freud’s (1856-1939) enormously influential work can be seen as representing the start of the academic discipline of child psychology and compelled society to acknowledge the profound relationship between a person’s childhood experiences and his/her mental health in later life.
  • Lidz (1910-2001) emphasized the severe psychological damage parents who ‘constantly undermine the child’s conception of himself’ do to their off-spring; he considered such treatment of the child by the parents as so serious because such psychological abuse can constitute a sustained and catastrophic attack on his (the child’s) ‘inner self’, which, in turn, so Lintz proposed, could lead to the disintegration of the child’s personality and the subsequent development of schizophrenia.
  • Bowlby (1907-1990) theorized that when the primary carer fails to healthily, emotionally bond (or, in Bowlby’s terminology attach‘) with the baby / young child the latter is put at high risk of developing mental health problems in later life.
  • R.D. Laing (1927-1989) proposed that schizophrenia is the result of the individual who develops it having grown up in a severely dysfunctional family.
  • Colin Ross (contemporary  psychiatrist) the most recent, significant proponent of the trauma model, emphasizes the harm done by abusive parenting by drawing attention to the fact the perpetrators of the abuse are the very people to whom the ‘child had to attach for survival.’ And he also states : ‘the basic conflict, the deepest pain, and the deepest source of symptoms is the fact that mom and dad’s behavior hurts, did not fit together, and did not make sense.’

eBook :

 

effects of childhood trauma ebook

Above eBook, The Devastating Effects Of Childhood Trauma, now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further information.

David Hosier BSc ; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

Psychotic Depression, Schizophrenia And Childhood Trauma Sub-Types

childhood trauma, schizophrenia, psychotic depression

childhood trauma, schizophrenia and psychotic depression

Sub-Types Of Childhood Trauma :

As we have seen from other articles I have published on this site, childhood trauma can be split into 4 main sub-types : emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect.

In this article, I briefly describe some of the main research findings in regard to the association between childhood trauma and risk of suffering from psychosis as an adult.

More specifically, I will examine which specific sub-types of childhood trauma may particularly increase an individual’s risk of developing psychosis as an adult, and if specific sub-types of childhood trauma are linked to increased risk of developing specific types of psychotic disorder as an adult and, if so, which specific types of psychotic disorder.

Study That Suggests Link Between Childhood Trauma And The Later Development Of Psychotic Depression :

A study carried out by Read et al. found that those individuals who had suffered from childhood trauma were more likely to have suffered from psychotic depression as adults. (Psychotic depression is similar to ‘ordinary’ major depression only there are additional symptoms of a psychotic nature – delusions, hallucinations and psychomotor agitation or psychomotor retardation).

More specifically, those who had experienced physical abuse or sexual abuse were found to have been particularly likely to have developed a psychotic depression later in life. (Of those in the study who had suffered from psychotic depression as adults, 59% had suffered physical abuse as children and 63% had suffered sexual abuse.)

childhood trauma, schizophrenia, psychotic depression

Studies That Suggests Link Between Childhood Trauma And The Later Development Of Schizophrenia :

A study (Compton et al) found that of those who had been sexually abused as children and of those who had been physically abused as children, 50% and 61% respectively developed schizophrenia-spectrum disorders later in life.

Another study (Rubins et al) found evidence suggesting that whilst sexual abuse in childhood is associated with the later development of depression and schizophrenia, physical abuse during childhood is associated with the later development of schizophrenia’ alone.

Finally, a study by Spence et al found that both physical and sexual abuse were associated with the later development of schizophrenia and, of these two associations, the association between physical abuse and the later development of schizophrenia was the strongest.

Type Of Psychotic Symptoms :

Studies (e.g. Read, 2008) that have focused on the specific psychotic symptoms suffered by those who develop a psychotic illness AND have a history of childhood trauma have found that the most common are AUDITORY HALLUCINATIONS and PARANOIA.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSC; PGDE(FAHE)

Histories Of Childhood Trauma Highly Prevalent Amongst Prison Inmates

angry mothers
childhood trauma and prison

Those who have experienced significant and protracted childhood trauma are far more likely to be incarcerated as adults than those individuals who were fortunate enough to experience relatively stable and secure childhoods (all else being equal).

PHYSICAL TRAUMA, EMOTIONAL TRAUMA AND ABANDONMENT :

For example, a study carried out by Wolff and Shi found that  56% of a sample of 4000 male prisoners had suffered physical trauma during their childhoods. Furthermore, in the same study, there was found a high proportion of inmates who had suffered emotional abuse as children including abandonment, rejection, humiliation, hostility, frequent and unreasonable criticism, intimidation and indifference ; of these forms of emotional abuse, abandonment was found to be particularly predictive of incarceration as an adult (indeed, more than a quarter of the prison inmates in the study had suffered abandonment as children).

ADVERSE EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD ABANDONMENT COMPOUNDED BY ABANDONMENT IN ADULTHOOD :

In relation to the issue of childhood abandonment, the authors of the study also highlighted the fact that those abandoned as children not infrequently found themselves abandoned again (by both family and friends) when imprisoned, thus triggering in them memories and emotions connected with their original childhood abandonment – the inevitable result of this is that the psychological problems they are likely to have developed as a result of this original childhood abandonment are yet further compounded by this further experience of abandonment as an incarcerated adult.

childhood trauma and prison

 

How Does Childhood Trauma Make Individuals More Likely To End Up In Jail?

There are many reasons why the experience of childhood trauma increases a person’s risk of going to jail as an adult; these include :

Implications :

Because many of the behavior that bring individuals into conflict with the law are linked to these individuals’ experience of trauma during their childhoods, Wolff and Shi suggest that it would be of benefit to screen inmates for psychiatric disorders linked to childhood trauma (such as complex posttraumatic stress disorder) and then to offer inmates who could benefit from it trauma-informed therapy.

 

eBook :

emotional abuse ebook

Above eBook now available from Amazon for immediate download. CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER DETAILS.

 

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

Four Types Of ‘Dysregulation’ Displayed By BPD Sufferers

emotional dysregulation

types of dysregulation

BPD And Dysregulation :

We have already seen from many other articles that I have published on this site that those who have suffered severe and protracted childhood trauma are at greatly increased risk of going on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable upbringing.

One of the main symptoms of this very serious and life-threatening condition (about ninety per cent of sufferers attempt suicide and about ten per cent die by suicide) is termed ‘DYSREGULATION.’

What Is Meant By The Term ‘Dysregulation?’

When the term DYSREGULATION is used in the psychological literature it most commonly refers to the great difficulty the BPD sufferer has controlling behavior and emotional states. However, more specifically, the dysregulation that those with BPD experience can be sub-divided into four particular types; these are :

1) EMOTIONAL DYSREGULATION

2) BEHAVIORAL DYSREGULATION

3) COGNITIVE DYSREGULATION

4) SELF DYSREGULATION

Below, I briefly define each of these four types of dysregulation :

  • Emotional Dysregulation :

This type of dysregulation refers to extreme sensitivity and difficulty controlling intense emotions. Individuals suffering from this type of dissociation not only feel emotions far more deeply than the average person, but also take longer to return to their ‘baseline’ / ‘normal’ mood.

For example, a person with BPD who is emotionally dysregulated may be easily moved to intense expressions of anger and then take far longer to calm down again compared to the average person. Others may disparagingly (due to their lack of knowledge and understanding of this life-threatening – see above – and acutely, indeed uniquely, mentally painful condition) describe such an individual as extremely ‘thin’skinned’, as ‘having a chip on his/her shoulder’, ‘a drama queen’ or as or as someone who is prone to extreme ‘over-reactions.’

A leading theory as to why individuals with BPD are emotionally dysregulated is that the development of their AMYGDALA (a brain region intimately involved with how we express emotions and how we react to stress) has been damaged as a result of severe childhood trauma.

emotional dysregulation

  • BEHAVIORAL DYSREGULATION :

This type of dysregulation refers to the severe problems those with BPD can have controlling their behavior ; such individuals may be highly impulsive and liable to indulge in high-risk behaviors that are self-destructive. Such behaviors may include :

    • excessive drinking
    • excessive drug taking
    • gambling
    • compulsive self-harm
    • risky sex
    • drink-driving / dangerous driving
    • excessive / compulsive spending leading to debt problems

 

  • COGNITIVE DYSREGULATION :

This type of dysregulation refers to disorganized thinking which may manifest itself as paranoid-type thinking and/or as states of DISSOCIATION.

BPD sufferers are also prone to ‘black and white’ / ‘all or nothing’ type thinking, indecision, self-doubt, distrust of others and intense self-hatred.

 

  • SELF DYSREGULATION :

This type of dysregulation refers to the weak sense of their own identity many BPD sufferers feel ( a typical BPD sufferer might express this by saying something along the lines of ‘I’ve no idea who I am‘), feelings of emptiness, and the difficulty many BPD sufferers experienced expressing their likes, dislikes, needs and feelings,

Dysregulation And Stress :

Individuals with BPD are far less able to cope with stress than the average person and dysregulation (relating to all four of the above categories) is especially likely to occur when such individuals are experiencing stress ; indeed, the greater the stress the individual is experiencing, the more dysregulated he/she is likely to become.

 

RESOURCES :

SELF-HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADABLE AUDIO :

‘CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS.’ Click here for further details.

eBook :

BPD ebook

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click on image above or click HERE for further information.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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