My daughter and I are working out the terms by which we intend to write a book for publication about the most central ideas contained on this blog. Without my daughter’s help I cannot write a book. The nature of the dis-abilities I live with — especially as they connect directly to my disorganized-disoriented insecure attachment disorder’ which are direct consequences of the severe infant-child abuse I endured — that dis-allows me from putting all that I know into the linear format that a book requires. My daughter will be the guiding force of ‘organization and orientation’ needed for this project.
Without my daughters guidance I am left alone as a rudderless ship adrift in a stormy sea doing nothing but writing around in circles. I cannot force myself to become someone I am not. My daughter will be like my mental tugboat or like my containing canal. She will be the director and producer of a body of written work that will represent what she and I know in combination with each other.
She, as my daughter, now with a child of her own brings to this project a unique perspective created by her place in the line of ancestral events that I write about. Looking backwards in time as far as we are able to we have in our mental hands a picture that includes patterns that cross six generations. Because I do not believe that the stress-distress-duress of familial trauma (which can but does not always include abuse) ever happens in a vacuum, it will be by connecting her and my experience and knowledge together that the spark of life for this book will be truly ignited.
My daughter is about to embark on a new stage of her journey as she begins work on her doctorate in Human Relations with an emphasis on gerontology. While this specific degree would not be her first choice, it is the only doctorate available to her where she lives that matches her interest in applied sociology. As I send her emails with ‘ideas’ for our book for her to file away until it is time for the information to be connected to ‘the rest of the story’ I am discovering specifically how I think what I know connects both to the field of study she will be entering and the field of sociological study that she has already accomplished.
Most simply put, as measured by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) data collection and research, those people who endured the most traumatic early infant-child traumas are also most likely NOT to reach the far end of the gerontology age range. They are the people who will NOT be considered in her PhD studies except as they invisibly present themselves by already being dead!
Yesterday during our telephone conversation my brother mentioned an article in the most recent issue of The New Yorker magazine that synthesizes better than I will ever be able to the CDC-ACE study findings. He is sending the article on to my daughter and I.
by Paul Tough March 21, 2011
See also THIS LINK
One of the stumbling blocks that has so far prevented my daughter and I from collaborating on a book is the fact that she cannot read my childhood stories. They are too painful to her. At the same time I have moved forward in my own thinking to the point that I say to her, “The actual specific details of any story I might tell about the abuse I suffered do not matter. My actual story is not important. What matters is HOW the abuse that was done to me changed my physiological development so that ‘dis-abilities’ were built into my developing body-brain that I have had to live with for my entire lifespan.”
I am quite certain that my daughter does not yet understand what I am saying to her. Obviously she will have to eventually ‘get it’ for this book to be written. I take this quandary as a blessing: Whatever it takes for my daughter to ‘get it’ is exactly what we need to convey to the reading public!
Alongside the critically important, very simply and clearly relayed information about the long-term consequences of early trauma as presented in the CDC-ACE study – which I am THRILLED to see coming to ‘lay light’ in this most recent mainstream magazine’s article on the topic – will ride the most fundamental information about how ATTACHMENT patterns created during the first 33 weeks of life direct the flow of all human physiological development. (Good safe and secure infant-caregiver attachment = one kind of body; bad unsafe and insecure infant-caregiver attachment = a different kind of body)
These ‘kinds of bodies’ can be discerned through assessment of attachment patterns at all ages past the age of one. I personally consider the creation of an adult attachment assessment tool that could be widely used (reliably) on the public-service level to be the single most important recommendation my writing can possibly make. The tool currently in existence – the Adult Attachment Interview (SEE for example: ADULT ATTACHMENT INTERVIEW PROTOCOL by Mary B. Main) has never made it into mainstream use (and no doubt never will).
Yet I still believe that assessment of attachment patterning provides the most important body of information that anyone can ever have about people (self included). An accurate assessment of attachment patterning reflects in a different way the same information that the CDC is gaining through their ACE assessments. I believe these two assessment processes need to be linked together, which can never happen until a simpler version of the adult attachment tool is developed-invented.
Once this simper and accessible/useable tool exists, and once these two sources of information are used in combination where it matters most, humans will be able to gather information about the source of most personal and social ills. The picture that will emerge through these two channels of information will be about what happened during the first 33 weeks of a human’s life as it impacted their physiological development. These patterns are what I call ‘The Source’ for most lack of well-being that humans experience across their lifespan.
The Adult Assessment Interview is NOT gathering information of concern about the details of what happened in a person’s early or later life. This tool is measuring HOW a person narrates their life story. It is in the narrational patterns of the telling our life story that the underlying patterns of attachment are reflected – secure (organized) attachment, insecure organized attachment or insecure disorganized attachment patterns. THOSE patterns in turn reflect the underlying physiological developmental trajectory a person experienced during the first 33 weeks of their life in response to an early environment of STRESS-DISTRESS or of protection from (‘too much’) stress-distress. The CDC-ACE tool is showing the same thing.
If for no other reason than for a concern with economy, efficiency and effectiveness in regard to the dispensing of human-need resources (of every kind) we need this information FIRST and FOREMOST in order to make positive changes in life-patterns. Anyone working to improve human well-being and quality of life is working blind without it. This source-information needs to inform every action we take to improve our life (or in our efforts to help anyone else improve theirs).
As I wrote to my daughter this morning, not having this source information is like trying to fill a car’s gas tank at a pump that is not connected to a fuel bank; turning on a faucet and expecting water when that faucet is not connected to a water source; trying to breath in a vacuum; expecting light to show up when we flip a switch that isn’t connected to a source of electricity.
What happens to a human during the first 33 weeks of life, primarily within the infant-caregiver interactional environment, is the source for how a body-brain physiologically develops in response. Overly harmful attachment-based experiences during this time of life both build the body-brain at the same time they build themselves INTO the body-brain as they alter the course of development. This is true for all animals that researchers study, and it is true for us.
I believe that most human lifelong suffering can be traced back to this source. I would like to see a run for this current March 21, 2011 issue of The New Yorker such as this magazine has never seen! I personally believe it contains the most important article they have ever printed.
I wouldn’t give a broken twig for anything my mother ever did to me if what she did hadn’t had the power to change the way this body I live in developed. It wasn’t having my head brutally shoved into a toilet bowl when I was four or being locked in a shed when I was sixteen that actually hurt me. It was what my mother effectively did to me in her reign of terror before I was two years old that mattered most. I cannot tell those earliest stories although my body can in the way I narrate everything that has happened to me ever since.