First, I will describe the main functions of the brain’s prefrontal cortex ; they are as follows :
modulates feelings of fear associated with threat (eg calms us down if a raised alarm turns out to be a false alarm)
controls the intensity of our emotions (so we are neither inappropriately under-emotionally aroused nor inappropriately over-emotionally aroused)
helps us to plan and control impulsive, ‘knee-jerk’ reactions
helps us to become mentally attuned to others and to empathize with them
provides us with a moral awareness and ethical framework
provides us with insight into the workings of our own minds
helps us behave rationally
helps us to think logically
helps us maintain a healthy balance between hyperarousal (too much arousal) and hypoarousal (too little arousal).
How Early Trauma Adversely Affects The Development Of The Prefrontal Cortex :
Even in emotionally and mentally ‘healthy’ individuals, the prefrontal cortex does not become fully developed until the age of about 25 years; this is a major reason why the behaviour of someone aged, say, eighteen, is often more erratic and ill-considered than that of a person aged, for example, twenty-six years. (It follows from this that a strong argument can be put forward
It is not uncommon for alcoholism and borderline personality disorder (BPD) to go hand-in-hand (click here to read my article on the relationship between alcoholism and childhood trauma). Those suffering from both alcoholism and BPD are particularly likely to have problems controlling their impulsivity.
The reason for this is the twin effects of alcoholism and BPD :
– ALCOHOLISM makes it harder for those who suffer from it delay gratification when intoxicated