Monday, November 24, 2014. It didn’t take me very long after I began my studies in 2004 about how early abuse and neglect profoundly affect the physiological development of sufferers for me to understand that all of the various fields of study that contributed information each in essence had one puzzle piece with a small segment of the picture on it. I knew I have a strong asset in my not being tied to any school or school of thought because I am free to see the bigger picture of how these puzzle pieces fit together, connect and relate to one another.
I discovered a research article this morning that brings my thoughts back into focus along these lines. This entire article is online free
By Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D., Jean-Philippe Gouin, M.A., Nan-ping Weng, M.D., Ph.D., William B. Malarkey, M.D., David Q. Beversdorf, M.D., and Ronald Glaser, Ph.D. — Psychosom Med. Jan 2011; 73(1): 16–22.
“Adverse childhood events are related to continued vulnerability among older adults, enhancing the impact of chronic stressors. Childhood adversities cast a very long shadow.”
Long before I heard about the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) research I KNEW that the immune system is involved in physiological changes severe early trauma causes in survivors’ development. However, I am still unclear if ‘others out there’ understand that it is – my strong suspicion – the immune system itself that is responsible for orchestrating the kinds of physiological developmental changes survivors experience on every necessary level so that survival to childbearing years is best achieved.
Yes, it may be that the ‘design’ of the immune system itself also changes as dictated by genetic – epigenetic – engineering in response to early stress during development. (In fact, it is very probable that epigenetic forces carry early trauma changes down to successive generations so that those people suffer early trauma consequences even if they literally had none in their own early years.) But the immune system may well be the first line of defense to insure continued survival in unsurvivable early conditions that in turn triggers the kinds of intricately complicated and interacting cascading changes through all ensuing developmental changes.
The above article came to my attention today as I work my own thoughts into patterns I believe in regarding my daughter’s choice of PhD dissertation topic. Hence the specificity of this article to one area she is considering for research. However, the article is enlightening and its reference list is absolutely relevant to anyone’s concerns about how early trauma impacts the entire being of its survivors.
Along the lines of my current thinking related to my daughter’s research options I found this:
“Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) refer to some of the most intensive and frequently occurring sources of stress that children may suffer early in life. Such experiences include multiple types of abuse; neglect; violence between parents or caregivers; other kinds of serious household dysfunction such as alcohol and substance abuse; and peer, community and collective violence.
It has been shown that considerable and prolonged stress in childhood has life-long consequences for a person’s health and well-being. It can disrupt early brain development and compromise functioning of the nervous and immune systems. In addition because of the behaviours adopted by some people who have faced ACEs, such stress can lead to serious problems such as alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, unsafe sex, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
The ACE International Questionnaire (ACE-IQ) is intended to measure ACEs in all countries, and the association between them and risk behaviours in later life. ACE-IQ is designed for administration to people aged 18 years and older. Questions cover family dysfunction; physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect by parents or caregivers; peer violence; witnessing community violence, and exposure to collective violence. ACE-IQ is currently being validated through trial implementation as part of broader health surveys.
Findings from ACE-IQ surveys can be of great value in advocating for increased investments to reduce childhood adversities, and to inform the design of prevention programmes.”
If nothing else, linking our thinking as severe early abuse, neglect and trauma survivors up to the bigger picture helps us affirm that WE ARE NOT ALONE! It is, to me, a sign of the emerging maturity of humanity that this subject is gaining wider and wider interest and attention. Not a small problem to address for anyone, but there are movements in the right direction!
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