+NOURISHMENT AND HEALING HAPPENS – IN SO MANY WAYS ON SO MANY LEVELS

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Haven been given only a small handful of truly useful information about how to be a happy, healthy human being during the first 18 years of my childhood (coupled with continual severe abuse during these years) has left me trying to create a patchwork quilt of a life.  Just like I would choose a pattern for a quilt and place within it color and fabric combinations that will work together to create something useful and beautiful after my work would be done, I continually try to piece information together about how humans actually ‘work’ compared to the overwhelming information I received as a child that showed me how humans are NOT supposed to ‘work’.

I learn a lot from the nonhuman world of earth and plants.  Even animals are a source of mystery to me.  I have been given my daughters long-haired Pomeranian-Pekingese mix 3-year-old dog, Who Who.  She is absolutely NOT child friendly and will never be safe to trust around little people.  She growls and snarls, snaps and will bite them if allowed to.  That’s evidently who she is.  She bit my grandson — and was flown 1700 miles south from North Dakota to be my friend and companion down here where I life along the Mexican-American border line.

I don’t really even understand animals.  While a lot of people might be in my similar shoes, at least most people can understand their peers – fellow human beings.  But being abused and mostly sequestered in isolation even away from my 5 siblings taught me nothing about how humans relate to one another except on the most surface of levels — in other words, I could see the ACTIONS (including the abuse) but I did not develop an emotional-social brain that would allow me FROM THE INSIDE to FEEL the feeling-felt experience of being a member of a social species.

Of course I never actually new what was being done to me from the time I was born was wrong.  I never knew what being treated RIGHT felt like.  I simply endured and survived until enough time went by that I was ‘all grown up’ so that I could enter a different life.  Here I am at 59 a long long way into that different life, but with so much emotional-social information missing (as my body-brain was built in the midst of terror, pain and trauma) I simply spend every waking moment of my life trying to learn how to get along better in a world I doubt I will ever truly understand.

So I watch – even my new dog’s eyes.  I watch her movements, her body language, and listen to the changes in the tone of her voice.  Most humans, formed in safe and secure attachment environments – who are not abused, neglected, maltreated and traumatized – naturally develop well before the age of four with enough information of the right kind given to them that they can be ‘people whisperers’ for the rest of their lives.  People take these abilities for granted.  We are NOT meant to develop in such a way that members of our own social species are a mystery to us.

But, mystery they are to me (myself included).  This mystery is no less great to me as the mystery of how I heal the soil of the land I live on so that it can grow food to nourish me (and to be given to others to help nourish them).  Every positive interactions humans have with one another is actually a form of nourishment for all involved.  To learn about how to nourish my soil — and believe me, this soil that was long ago the floor of a great ocean was never built to provide nourishment to any but the most hardy native plants — I have to learn what a healthy soil is.  Then I have to take steps to provide the nourishment this soil needs so that it can be, in fact, healthier than it has EVER been since the time it was made.

I have lived up north much of my adult life.  I took nourished and nourishing soil completely for granted.  In an abstract way I knew that over-farming and maltreatment of the land could hurt soil, but this is the first time in my life I have been faced with the kinds of problems this soil actually has if it is expected to produce something quite basic to my life:  FOOD!

I did receive basic FOOD of the physical kind as a child (yet even my need for food was manipulated in abusive ways).  I DID NOT receive the food of kindness, compassion, love, respect, or any other kind of nourishment a human being needs to build a body-brain-mind-self on the INSIDE that could come out at the end perfectly able to be what is called in agricultural (and cultural terms) SUSTAINABLE.

I fully believe that humans around the globe are soon going to be forced by the backlash of misdirected greed and ignorance to redefine and to change patterns of living toward a SUSTAINABLE way of living so that both the health of our planet and the continued survival of our species (and MANY others) can be supported.

As I work now to build my chicken coop and run, as I work to add all kinds of amendments to my soil – in the proper amounts and combinations, in the proper depth, at the proper time, in the proper way – I think a lot about what I am working to achieve on this little piece of property with my little financial resources reflects what I have done all my life as a human being who somehow grew to know absolutely that violence and the maltreatment of all life is the incorrect way to live.  Correcting mistakes — my parents’ grave, profoundly hurtful and damaging mistakes  toward me — has been the major job of my lifetime.

Animals (in my thinking) do not make mistakes that they, on their own, would choose to correct later on.  They simply move forward through time being their self!  Plants don’t make mistakes.  If they are in a damaging environment they have very limited ways provided to them to improve their condition.  As a gardener and as a person who might be fortunate to have a few animals in my life (my Mexican-American neighbor children, all native Spanish speakers, refer to every tiny bug they see as an ‘animal’) I come to understand how to take care of these life forms so that they can be happy and healthy.

I am most grateful that I somehow came out of my hell of a childhood instinctively and intuitively knowing what nurturing is so that I could be a wonderful mother.  I learn by watching others – people and animals alike – who they are and what they need.  I am learning about this soil here so that I can work to heal it toward a health it has never known – but I am not fooled into thinking that this healing process will ever NOT need repeated tending.

All this learning is not unpleasant.  Much of it should have happened a long, long time ago.  Now it happens at a different pace, in different ways – but often I approach the world from a simple place as if I were still a child.  At least at my age I know enough to understand that if this is what it takes for me to repair at least some of the damage done to me through 18 years of continual abuse — so be it!  I have found a niche on this planet, and have been given plenty of gifts from without and from within, that allow me to continue my simple path one single breath, one single step, one single feeling and one single thought at a time.

I’m not sure that even if I had been loved and protected, not abused and maltreated from the time I was born, that I could ever ask for more than this!

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+CUMULATIVE AND SUBTLE: TRAUMA TRIGGERS THAT SNEAK UP ON US

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Maybe like an astronomer who has detected an anomaly in the sky, I have my telescope trained upon the spot where this ‘irregularity’ first appeared.  I watch it hoping that someday what I learn will turn what seemed so strange into something that is just plain ordinary.

Trauma triggers are often like that for me.  Even if I can detect what the trigger actually was, I don’t usually understand how the trauma trigger and my reaction to it are even connected.  So I train my inner telescope on both the trigger and my reaction to it, hoping that in time whatever the trigger turns out to be can be made benign to me.  Maybe someday at least that trigger will no longer create any reaction in me at all.

Yet today I feel my ‘crater’ inside, my ‘black hole’ of deep and enduring sorrow.  I didn’t feel it yesterday.  Why it is resonating within me so strongly today?

As I track backwards in time (and event) I realize that what I suspect triggered my deep sorrow was not a ‘single thing’.  The trigger was actually an accumulation of experiences that I never knew were even related – until my inner telescope showed me that they WERE connected.  These seemingly tiny triggers all seem to add onto one another until – like a log jam that can grow so big it can change the course of a river – suddenly I find myself ‘somewhere’ inside of myself that I don’t want to be.

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A cumulative trigger can show me something helpful if I know how to look at it.  But this looking can be difficult when I am in the middle of my reaction to the trigger!

What I see THIS time is that as I encounter people in the world around me I am often comparing myself to them on some level I am not even aware of, and I come up lacking.  Then I begin to notice in someone else’s honestly cheerful approach to life, or in their competent management of their life and resources that keeps them from poverty, or in their ability to maintain a stable partner relationship – whatever the POSITIVE is that I detect in someone else I see myself having lost my own ground to the negative.

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As a severe infant-child abuse survivor I understand that whatever I was given in my earliest environment was enough to keep me physically alive, but not enough to allow me to gain ground in important ways that ALL non-infant abuse survivors (in particular) have.  I know enough now to translate this thought into its truest meaning:  I did have resiliency factors available to me that kept me alive, and inner ones that kept my self intact (although not integrated into my body-world).  At the same time my earliest environment of severe abuse by my mother created overwhelming risk factors that – in truth of fact – could not possibly balance themselves out with an equal ‘number’ of resiliency factors.

In other words, I was robbed of what I desperately needed to grow up as a happy, healthy infant-child.  Being robbed changed the course of my physiological development so that today there are certain abilities non-abused, non-traumatized (during their earliest years) people take absolutely for granted.

Why should it occur to these people to appreciate or be grateful for what they received as infants and children?  WE NOTICE!  We severe early abuse survivors DO NOTICE – and I suspect that we have ALWAYS noticed that other people have ‘things’ we do not have – because they were given these things just as every little person SHOULD be given them.  These ‘things’ we were robbed of (at the same time we lived in an environment of pain-filled terror) were not trivial extras.  They were essential to the growth and development of an optimal human being.

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It has never occurred to me so clearly as it has today that being around BOTH ‘optimally formed’ people AND being around sad and troubled people that were obviously deprived in their own earliest years of what they needed to grow up ‘well’ are BOTH triggers for my own grief and sadness.

I can’t go back and change what happened to me in the first critical months/years of my development that so changed the body-brain I live with.  What I want to achieve is some kind of immunity against the triggering of my deep, deep grief-filled sadness that lies within every cell of my body and that can snag me out of a day of ‘well-being’ like a gigantic fish-hook that captures me and drags me down to the bottom of the sea.

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In case I might try to take a simplistic and erroneous path toward my hoped-for goal, I have an image that appears to me every time I think I am ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’.  I see a young child, one old enough to notice, having been invited to a birthday party.  The child is left out of all the games and laughter, ignored like it is invisible.  When it is time to sit at the table for lunch and cake with the other children, who all gaily giggle with their party hats on, everyone else is served the party sustenance while this single child receives nothing (not even a party hat)!

In our culture I believe we are trained not to complain (or ‘envy’ others).  The child says nothing.  Nobody even notices what is happening.  The child experiences all this sadness, and to make matters worse it does so ALONE.

I do not wish to blame my own self for noticing the deprivations and traumas, the horrendous abuse, or minimize anything that happened to me or be ashamed to speak my own truth.  Just because very few if any people want to hear what our reality was (and is) doesn’t mean our reality doesn’t matter.  When the contrast between non-abused people and our reality as survivors strongly catches our attention – when we notice consciously or not that there is difference between us – I believe those experiences of contrast will most often trigger our trauma in our body memory.  Being as aware as possible when this is happening might be able to thwart a full-blown trauma ‘allergy’ attack in reaction to these subtle (and very common) and extremely powerful triggers.

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+MY HUMBLE WORK IN THE DIRT — AND PRAYER

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A corner of my thoughts has been with those in northern Japan who are enduring the great trauma (see video footage of water here) caused by the Tsunami created by the massive earthquake last Friday, March 11, 2011.  Japan lies on the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’:  “About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 80% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.”

I was 12 in 1964 when the great earthquake struck Alaska, and how well I remember that experience.  Yet to me, a survivor of severe and nearly continual child abuse, the aftermath of that earthquake actually felt good to me.  My mother, like most adults in Alaska at the time, was completely focused on that disaster, which meant she completely ignored me.  Being ignored felt like heaven to me.

Yet as overwhelming an experience as a major earthquake and tsunami can be, that kind of trauma – not one caused by human beings – is actually easier to bear and heal from for people than is a major trauma of the other kind – one that IS caused by humans.

When I think of severe infant-child abuse I always think about it within the realm of great traumas, knowing that all the parameters of suffering, distress, terror, pain and confusion are actually greatly increased for young infants and children when faced with trauma caused by the very people who are supposed to love and care for them.

Even though today was a gorgeous day, and I spent all of it outside working toward being able to plant my garden, I could not entirely block out my awareness that there are things happening to others of all ages around this nation and this globe that are causing them to suffer.  I am very glad that I believe in the spiritual power of prayer to help all of us, even though most of what happens in this lifetime remains a Great Mystery to me.

As I work hard and humbly with my hands in the dirt I know there is a God that cares about everyone and about everything.  I ask that God to help all of us this whole world over.

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Why is there no looting in Japan?

Discipline in the face of disaster: no looting in Japan

Three days after a magnitude-9 killer quake devastated Japan, triggering Pacific-wide tsunamis and a likely nuclear plant meltdown and then consigning millions of Japanese to darkness, thirst and hunger in the wintry cold, I still have yet to read reports of widespread looting,” wrote Frederico D. Pascual Jr. of The Philippine Star. “This Filipino watching 3,200 kilometers from Ground Zero finds this disciplined behavior of a huge population in distress awe-inspiring. Let us pray that they stay that way — and that we learn from them.

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+SLOWING DOWN THE PASSAGE OF TIME SO I CAN GAIN MORE CLARITY

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My company-related thoughts concerning my experiences of this past week have come to include what I am trying to learn and understand about the interplay between our human attachment and our caregiving systems.  It is most common for those of us who are survivors of severe infant-child abuse to have a body-brain that was changed in its physiological development in such a way that our stress-distress (insecure attachment) system works differently from ‘normal’.

Our ‘warning’ system shows its nearly continual activation through our patterns of attachment to self, others and to our world around us as it manifests in our insecure attachment patterns that are very difficult to ‘turn off’.  This means that when we ‘caregive’ we are accomplishing this feat in different ways from ‘normal’.  A body-brain built in a safe and secure earliest attachment-relationship environment will activate when ACTUAL threat exists in the environment.  At other times it will turn itself off and caregiving smoothly happens within these times.

These two systems — our attachment system and our caregiving system — are not ordinarily designed to operate at the same time.  Once our attachment needs are met the system turns off (and body-felt anxiety all but disappears).  I believe many people, especially parents, can react appropriately in caregiving their offspring because they can accomplish BOTH system activations at the same time.  Experts refer to Earned Secure attachment when this happens.  Based on my own experience I call this Borrowed Secure attachment.

When it comes to adult-to-adult interactions it can be harder to gain clarity about how these two systems are operating within relationships.  Needing ‘more than normal’ is an understandable and very normal consequence stemming from abuse, trauma, neglect and maltreatment of infants and children.  Gaining clarity about WHAT we need, WHEN we need, HOW we need, and WHO we feel we need what from are part of our never-ending healing process.

Give and receive is what our rupture-repair patterns are about.  I am very clear about how these patterns work when I am in interaction with children, but am having to learn as much as I can about adult interactions that seem foggy to me in these areas.  In the meantime as I continue to learn, I try to achieve a gentle forgiving stance that is most clearly connected to this thought as I struggle in adult relationships:  “Linda, this isn’t the end of the world!”

From the time I was born everything in my universe felt like ‘the end of the world’ or ‘the world is ending NOW (or very soon)’.  Just taking a breath, backing up from the specific details of a troublesome experience and giving myself time to process accomplishes a lot for me!  The experience of the passage of TIME itself becomes altered in the midst of trauma.  I try today to literally manage time so that it slows down.  In that slowing down I can allow more and more information into the picture that can help me gain a better, clearer perspective about what matters most — and what doesn’t.

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+COMMENTS TO THIS BLOG I PUBLISH – AND THOSE I DON’T

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I wanted to post some information about the kinds of comments to this blog that I will publish as opposed to those I won’t.  While everyone is free to post any kind of comment that they wish, I do not publish any comment whose sole intent appears to me to be negative, undermining of anyone, and that does not include something that lets me know the commenter is speaking from their heart about their own (blog topic related) personal experience.  (I do not consider what we have to say about our abuser as ‘undermining’!)

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+WHEN SELF-UNDERSTANDING FLIES OUT THE WINDOW!

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Maybe if I can go down another level I can make some movement off of the dead-center feelings I described earlier.  How do I REALLY feel right now?  I feel great grief and sadness.  I feel lost, alone and hopeless.  Everything that happened last week seems like it happened at a great distance away from both me — and from reality.  I can no longer well-tolerate a world in which people do not offer their FEELINGS and emotions within the context of relating and in relationships.  THOSE kinds of human interactions feel dead to me.

I in part have to ‘blame’ the culture in which we all reside, the one that decided hundreds of years ago that feelings don’t matter, no does the body in which the feelings reside.  We live in a culture that tells us that FEELINGS themselves are not real!  That they don’t ‘have matter’.  That they ‘don’t count’.  Our culture-society seems determined to find all sorts of ways to erase feelings – bad plan in my thinking!

Feelings DO matter!  And I believe that’s the way humans are best designed – to be fully informed on all levels from the feelings we experience in our body as they are translated into verbal meaning through our brain-mind.  Without acknowledgment of feelings the most important information we have about our self in the world is left out and this most important information is then missing in our relationships.

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I am working today to pull my own self back into my own body.  It does me no good to ‘reach out’ to others in the way I am most prone to do — reaching outside of myself in my attempts to understand other people who are not clear to me.  This lack of clarity happens because I never built emotional information processing into my body-brain ‘correctly’ in the first place.   And because I do not truly understand LANGUAGE between humans.

Maybe last week was like ‘beating my head against the wall’.  Whatever that wall is, I am not the only one that put it there.  If other people choose to let their walls exist — and wall of their emotions — I want to learn to be perfectly OK MYSELF when they do that!  Yes, I end up feeling like I am losing relationships when I can’t detect that feeling-felt feeling within myself AND when I can’t detect that others are feeling it.  The lost-lonely-sad feelings I then feel are MINE and have nothing to do with ‘them’.

These people who came here live a long way away and will not be back for a long time, at best.  I suppose if we were in proximity of one another more often perhaps I would understand these patterns more easily.  Or not!

What matters to me is that I don’t like feeling unbalanced and so lost like I do today.  I can’t find my own firm footing.  Understanding them is not the point right now.  Understanding myself better is.

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Today’s earlier posts:

+INFANT ABUSE AND NEGLECT: THE PERVASIVE IMPACT OF ‘WHAT IS MISSING’

+’DEPERSONALIZATION’ AND ‘DEREALIZATION’ – HOW CLEAR AM I ABOUT THE SOURCE OF THESE ‘SENSES’?

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+’DEPERSONALIZATION’ AND ‘DEREALIZATION’ – HOW CLEAR AM I ABOUT THE SOURCE OF THESE ‘SENSES’?

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My next realization following my writing of my previous post (+INFANT ABUSE AND NEGLECT: THE PERVASIVE IMPACT OF ‘WHAT IS MISSING’) has to do with a major set of manifestations of the physiological reality I live with in my body.  Related to ‘dissociation’ is the frequent (and to me common) related experiences of feeling ‘depersonalized’ and ‘dereal (derealization)’.

I am suffering today from strong senses related to both of these states.  Nothing from this past week feels ‘real’ to me, and I feel the ‘depersonalization’ related to my own self AND to the other people I just spent the past week with.  This seems like a pervasive sense that I am not ‘real’, that my experiences of the past week were not (are not) ‘real’, and that the people were not ‘real’, either.  I HATE this feeling!

My ‘realization’ is that perhaps I just clearly learned that when I have this sense in part it is an exactly very real (true) reaction to having spent time with people who are perhaps not ‘real’ to their own self or to others, either!  If, as I strongly suspect many, many people suffer from degrees of the same emotional-social early right brain formation attachment-related difficulties that I do, it would make sense then that I can learn to understand that it is often very true that these senses of depersonalization and derealization exist OUTSIDE of myself within other people and thus my own sense of what is real and of who/what a person actually is can often be impacted by this fact.

If a human being’s true state is meant to be one of healthy well-being, and if degrees of early abuse, trauma and deprivation diminish this true state, then those of us who are extremely sensitive beings WILL NOTICE when another person has ALSO been trauma-changed during their earliest developmental stages.

Can I now begin to pay closer attention to how I feel when the depersonalization-derealization senses ‘come over’ me?  Can I begin to separate (as per become more clear about ‘boundaries’) about where these senses are actually originating when I experience them?  Is there anything I can do for myself that will help me keep ‘their stuff’ from affecting how I feel?

Is there a great risk that survivors of harmful early developmental trauma naturally respond to one another within these ‘dereal’ and ‘depersonalized’ places because they happened to be our first and therefore primary and ‘natural’ states (built into our body-brain)?

How much of the smothered feeling I feel today of being overwhelmed by ‘derealization’ and ‘depersonalization’ actually — and very really — existed within the patterns present in the OTHER people I just spent my week with?

How exactly DOES it feel to me as a ‘dissociational’ person when I am around and interacting with other people who are this same way — and don’t even have a clue about their condition?  Well, if there was ever a day for me to work on my clarity about this topic, today certainly is a prime one!

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+INFANT ABUSE AND NEGLECT: THE PERVASIVE IMPACT OF ‘WHAT IS MISSING’

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I can’t say I want to write this post.  I HAVE to write this post, because I don’t believe there is anyone — not ANYONE — who will truly understand what I have to say except for infant abuse survivors.  Even if we don’t know that we know what I am going to say here, we DO KNOW it because we live with this condition all of our lives because it was built into our body-brain from the time we were born (or even before that time depending on our pre-birth experiences).

It won’t be until we realize consciously as survivors that we have this ‘condition’ that we will be able to talk about it.  Conscious realization might not so much change HOW this condition operates so much as it might change how we feel about ourselves and other people.

A week of out-of-town guests (family) has concluded.  I am left feeling confused and bogged down by (almost) unnameable feelings from this past week’s experiences of being around people I love and who love me.  But at the same time I am working to gain some clarity about all of this I realize that I have nobody to verbalize my process or insights with.  While our nation is itself increasingly suffering from this unnameable and invisible malady to one degree or another, it is those of us who suffered from the most trauma, neglect, abuse and maltreatment from birth (and/or before birth) who — I believe — have the truest capacity to recognize this first (other than developmental neuroscientists who very well know what this condition is and where it comes from — though I don’t believe they know PERSONALLY what it FEELS like as we infant survivors do).

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How can we talk about a condition that seems to be so unnameable and so invisible?  Where are the words we can use to talk about something that is becoming dangerously prevalent in our culture in the degrees of damage it creates within people — and within all of our relationships to self, others and the world around us?

My first comment would be that I can’t say (or feel as if I KNOW) the true reality of any single human transaction that just happened during this past week.  Next, I would say that I am a survivor of such severe infant abuse (followed by the next 18 years of abuse) that I am far, far, far over on the ‘this sure happened to me’ continuum.  So although it is therefore easier (and even possible) that I would be the one to identify that whatever it was that happened this past week,  it was the HOW of HOW it all happened that most disturbed me.

Don’t get me wrong.  There were no fights, no cross words between any of us.  All that happened remained in the realm of the ‘silent and unspeakable’.

When experts talk about less-than-optimal infant-caregiver attachment interactions in disturbed early relationships they speak – yes – of resulting insecure attachment disorders.  They are ALSO saying at the same time that ’empathy disorders’ directly connect to the same painful, neglectful, frightening, inadequate and non-loving interactions.

As I look around at our nation and consider that our cultural and societal platforms of safety and security that are needed to provide support on all levels to young infant-children and their parents, I recognize that degrees of these ‘insecure attachment disorders’ and their related-connected empathy disorders are GOING to be the lifelong ‘condition’ of most little ones that are suffering today.

While it might take obvious and direct abuse to create such a trauma-changed body-brain in survivors of the worst of infant maltreatment, there is no possible way that little ones who experience deprivation even unintentionally committed against them can escape having some form of insecure attachment-empathy disorder created in their developing body-brain.

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We will recognize these patterns as confusing interactions between others (and within our self) as they contain emotional messages that are communicated within social exchanges.  We are members of a social species, and all the ‘wiring’ we receive during ESPECIALLY our first year of life establishes the physiological capacities we will use the rest of our life to relate as social-species members.

I just went through a week where most interactions I experienced fell squarely into the GUESSWORK category.  When the emotional-social circuits in a little one’s body-brain form under duress, patterns of communication and interaction simply WILL NOT work RIGHT (optimal-health).  Emotions existed on all levels this past week and NONE of them were directly expressed — or even recognized — for the entire week.

I will never claim that I have the ability — or ever will in this lifetime have the ability — to be able to clarify or make clear any aspect of human exchange that the OTHER person can’t do the same for within their own self.  When OTHER people have suffered in their earliest developmental stages enough trauma that their own body-brain wasn’t built to process emotional-social information ‘correctly’ (optimal health) — I am LOST LOST LOST!

I can ONLY function smoothly (safely and securely) when I am around people who had enough safety and security in their earliest attachment relationships that they were able to form a body-brain during the first year of life that processes emotional-social information ‘correctly’.  Certainly not one single person connected to my own family of origin received what they needed for this to happen.  Even though I was most definitely the ‘chosen one’ to receive the horrors of the direct abuse, all of my siblings were witness and also grew from birth being ‘trained’ by a mad woman who NEVER processed emotional-social information correctly.

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I HATE how I end up feeling — like every single tiny interaction this past week was a ‘misdirect’.  I will NEVER truly comprehend or be comfortable with human emotional-social exchanges.  I am absolutely dependent upon the ability of the OTHER PERSON to know how all those interactions are SUPPOSED to work.  If the other person suffered from some degree of ‘damage’ to their physiological development in their RIGHT emotional-social development I am LOST LOST LOST.

The problem nearly ALWAYS IS that the other person (people) don’t even begin to realize that these trauma-altered patterns are going on.  The problems appear invisibly, are unnameable, are left unidentified and unresolved.  The ‘ruptures’ in conversations and in the communication of need and intent are left without ‘repair’.  The most critically important quality of human interaction that relates to FEELING FELT does not exist, and everything lands in the murky world of ‘what the heck is actually going on here’?

I don’t understand myself how to overcome these difficulties because I was nearly entirely built in a world of trauma and extreme abuse.  All I know at this point is that what I just experience this past week was very, very real — and equally invisible.  It is NOT, however, completely unnameable to me because I have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to learn about how I was trauma-built in my body-brain.

In addition I can FEEL what just went wrong last week even though I have no clue how I personally could have made anything ‘better’.  So this is one of those ‘I am writing a message and stuffing it into a bottle hoping someone will know what I am trying to say’ posts.

We are obviously not living in an infant-child friendly culture, no matter what words we mouth as a nation to the contrary.  Problems with empathy and its resulting potential for true compassion and for truly feeling felt and for helping others to feel felt are flying into our nation’s past the same way they flew into my past when I was born.  I NEVER was allowed to experience these most precious and vitally important emotional-social patterns of interaction from the time I left my mother’s womb.  Those deprivations built themselves into me at the same time they built me during the formation of my emotional-social earliest-forming right brain.

To know that I am not alone in this, and that many, many others experienced ‘degrees of damage’ through the same process (though not so extremely) actually greatly disappoints me!  What hope do I have to find large numbers of optimally love-formed, non-early-traumatized people that can help ME understand what it means to be a well-being-human?

I KNOW all this now!  I know that anything less than clear, open, loving, appropriate and stable patterns of interaction between a mother (and other earliest caregivers) and an infant ESPECIALLY until age one  cannot possibly create those same optimal patterns and their corresponding capacities-abilities within a growing infant’s body-brain.

When these optimal patterns are missing all emotional-social patterns for a lifetime will be reflecting their absence.  As a consequence, healthy empathy, quality compassion and complete communication between suffers will be missing.  What is left, then, are patterns of missing information, distortion of priorities, incomplete communications (transmissions), misdirected efforts to interact with others, absent critical emotional information, vague recognition of self and others, and some degree of dismal-abysmal relationships that do not (because they most often cannot) include the fullest potential of what human beings can actually accomplish as emotional-social beings.

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+PLAYING STUPID ABOUT ‘WHAT’S WRONG’

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The points brought to light in my previous post, +OUR BODY-BRAIN BALANCE BETWEEN ‘PEACE’ AND ‘ALARM’, make it clear to me that if we guaranteed every human being optimal PROPER CARE for the first 33 months of their life (beginning at conception through age two) nearly all of what we call ‘mental illness’ and ‘social malaise’ would vanish from civilization.  At the same time pharmaceutical companies would have to close their doors.  Prisons would shrink to the size of laundromats, and few would have any excuse for behaving ‘badly’ as we would all have to name negative behavior for what it would then completely become:  A personal rational choice.

SEE ALSO:

+LOOKING AT THE NURSERY AS THE SEAT OF VIOLENT CRIME

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+OUR BODY-BRAIN BALANCE BETWEEN ‘PEACE’ AND ‘ALARM’

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While I certainly can’t say that I understand either the information presented in this selection I am posting today from the book I am reading, Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence – (1998) by Robin Karr-Morse, Meredith S. Wiley, I can say that I find this passage intriguing.  I am not familiar with “the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin in aggressive behavior” as I usually come across it in reference to the ‘montage’ of pharmaceutical concoctions that are prescribed to treat ‘depression’ by increasing/enhancing available serotonin in a ‘depressed’ person’s body.

I am reading this book thinking about my mother.  Nobody will ever know the exact combinations of early infant and childhood distress, neglect, trauma and otherwise malevolent treatment she received that turned her into such a violent, vicious, and chronic infant-child abuser (with me being her target).  I do suspect, however, that much of the information the authors present in this book do apply to her.

Even though I am not a violent person, the trauma my mother inflicted upon me from birth through age 18 affected the development of all the systems in my body, as well.

The following comes from a subsection titled PEASE PORRIDGE HOT, PEASE PORRIDGE COLD that is contained in chapter two from Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence (I added bold type within text below for emphasis):

It was only a game.  Even though it was for science – it was only a game.  The first person who hit the button after the lights flashed got to zap his partner with an electric current.  The winner could pick a charge ranging from one, a light twinge, to eight, a jolt of pain.  These were college students at McGill University in Montreal.  They usually picked low dosages of electricity, giving what they got, exchanging only level of pain they received.  That was before the drink.  Scientists deliberately raised the aggression level of participants by giving them a dose of amino acids that lowered their levels of the brain chemical serotonin.  Soon the game changed.  Volunteers began zapping their partners with higher and higher numbers in spite of receiving lower charges themselves.  Next, the students were given another snack, this time a dose of tryptophan, an essential ingredient for the brain to produce serotonin.  As the serotonin levels rose, the choice of painful jolts diminished.  An Orwellian experiment, perhaps, but proof positive that the manipulation of neurochemicals can alter levels of aggression. [see work of Ron Kotulak)

Serotonin reducing chemicals such as certain amino acids lower the threshold [meaning ‘they let more aggression in’] for aggressive tendencies.  In rodents, serotonin-reducing drugs were first viewed as aphrodisiacs because the rats became very sexually active under their influence.  But aggression soon followed.  Handlers were bitten and other rats were attacked just for coming close – behaviors previously unseen in the animals.

The role of the neurotransmitter serotonin in aggressive behavior has been under study since the mid 1970s when Marie Asberg, at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, observed the linkage between low serotonin and violent suicides, suicides involving guns, knives, ropes, or jumping from high places.  Soon criminals with a history of violence were discovered to also have low levels of serotonin.  But the effect of serotonin can only be understood in relation to a counter-balancing neurotransmitter, noradrenaline [norepinephrine].

While serotonin is known to be key to modulating impulsive behaviors at the neocortical level of the brain, noradrenaline is the alarm hormone designed to alert the system to respond to danger.  Together they have a teeter-totter type of relationship:  in normal people, serotonin is higher during sleep and decreases during wakefulness, while noradrenaline is higher during wakefulness and lower during sleep.  The balance between the two is the key to normal function.  For most of us, there is a balance, enabling us to react in reasonable ways.  But, as with the McGill students, our functional levels can be altered, at least temporarily.  Alcohol and extremely stressful environments can have similar effects to the students’ initial drink of amino acids.  When these exposures occur to a developing fetus or infant, the levels of serotonin and noradrenaline are just being built, shaping lifetime patterns.

Violent behavior is roughly of two types:  impulsive and premeditated.  Most acts of violence are impulsive.  “Cold-blooded” pr premeditated acts are far less common and are typically enacted by a very different personality than the “hot-blooded” crime.  When environmental experiences early in life cause noradrenaline levels to be too high and serotonin levels too low, the result, in the presence of later emotional triggers, may be impulsive violenceConversely, very low levels of noradrenaline together with low levels of serotonin result in underarousal, which may generate an appetite for high-risk behaviors to achieve arousal, setting the stage for predatory violence or premeditated crimes.  Interestingly, very high levels of serotonin are not a means of counteracting this effect.  Excessively high serotonin levels result not in well-being, but in rigidity or obsessive-compulsive behavior, like Lady MacBeth’s repetitive hand washing.  The balance of neurochemicals in either scenario is thought to be set primarily by early experience [Google search:  ‘Perry incubated in terror’ for the author’s reference here – first link on Google is the document]When babies develop in an atmosphere of terror or trauma, these neurochemicals can be called upon to enable them to survive.  But that which enables survival may also create permanent and lethal imbalances.

Low levels of serotonin may be the result of a genetic error.  A single gene inherited by some people from their fathers results in an inability to adequately convert tryptophan from common foods into serotonin.  The individual inheriting this gene may have no problem unless there is an additional stressor, primarily alcohol.  In affected individuals, alcohol briefly raises, then drastically lowers, serotonin levels.  At the latter point, the individual is prone to acting out aggressively.  This gene is common – affecting 40 percent of the Swedish population tested at random [see same Perry reference above].  With 48 percent of the homicides in the United States committed under the influence of alcohol, the role of this interaction is clearly of concern.

Normal serotonin and noradrenaline levels are extremely important to balanced functioning.  Without realizing it, our culture is creating more and more individuals with an imbalance in this delicate equation in the brain.  Alcohol, drugs, and other toxic exposures such as lead are being implicated in damage to the genes responsible for these neurochemicals.  So are conditions after birth such as abusive, terrifying, or war-torn environments, in which impulsive or reactive behaviors are essential to survival.  Researchers suspect that conditions of child neglect, child abuse, gang warfare, and domestic violence are – without our awareness – biologically, as well as socially, feeding the cycle of violent crime.  As Ron Kotulak stated in his series on the brain:

“Underlying the scientific quest, which has revealed genetic and environmental links to abnormal brain chemistry, is the growing suspicion that society may unwittingly be feeding the nation’s epidemic of murder, rape and other criminal acts by making childhood more dangerous than ever.”

Abuse and neglect in the first years of life have a particularly pervasive impact.  Prenatal development and the first two years are the time when the genetic, organic, and neurochemical foundations for impulse control are being created [the first 33 months of life].  It is also the time when the capacities for rational thinking and sensitivity to other people are being rooted – or not – in the child’s personality.”  (pages 42-45, Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence)

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OTHER RELATED TOPIC LINKS:

How Trauma Affects the Brain

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See study here:  Difference in serotonergic and noradrenergic regulation of human social behaviours

Noradrenaline was related to increased social engagement and cooperation and a reduction in self-focus….serotonin may be associated with protection of the self from the negative consequences of social interaction.”

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Functional coupling of serotonin and noradrenaline transporters.

On serotonin and noradrenaline:  “Re-uptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenaline out of the synaptic cleft is mediated by selective transporter proteins, the serotonin transporter and the noradrenaline transporter respectively. Both are integral membrane proteins that are have a high degree of homology and represent members of a larger neurotransmitter transporter superfamily.

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BOOK:  Balancing Serotonin and Norepinephrine Levels

By John Allocca

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Mechanisms underlying the long-term behavioral effects of traumatic experience in rats: the role of serotonin/noradrenaline balance and NMDA receptors. (2007)

Traumatic stressors induce long-lasting changes in behavior. It is believed that all three glutamatergic, serotonergic and noradrenergic neurotransmission play a role in the development of such behavioral changes, but their relative importance and relationship is poorly understood. We have shown previously that a single exposure of rats to electric shocks induces social avoidance for about 10 days….  Noteworthy, the brain noradrenaline/serotonin ratio correlated negatively with shock-induced social avoidance, suggesting that the ratio rather than absolute levels are important in this respect.”

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Why Some Kids Turn Violent

For millions of American children, the world they encounter is relentlessly menacing and hostile. So, with astounding speed and efficiency, their brains adapt and prepare for battle. Cells form trillions of new connections that create the chemical pathways of aggression; some chemicals are produced in overabundance, some are repressed.

In studies with children and adolescents with disruptive behavior disorders, low serotonin levels was the single most accurate predictor of which youngsters would go on to commit more violent crimes or suicide. Conversely, high levels of noradrenaline were the chemical signature of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The rising tide of abuse and neglect of children occurs during the critical period when children are developing what is called “moral emotions.” These are emotions that are rooted in brain chemistry and are established in the first three years of life. The development of impulse control occurs at a time when sensitivity toward others is also being rooted in a child’s personality.

The brain’s alarm network, called the locus coeruleus, sits at the base of the brain and sends out noradrenaline pathways to other brain centers that control heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, emotions, and motivation.

When the locus coeruleus finds itself in an uncontrollable, threatening environment, it sets its noradrenaline gauge on high. Over the pathways come surges of the stress hormone that keep the body in a constant state of readiness—heart racing, blood pressure high, easy to startle, quick to blow up. These are the PTSD children.”

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HOW STRESS AND POOR NUTRITION CAN CAUSE POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION by Dean Raffelock

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From the International Guide to the World of Alternative Mental Health

Guidebook for Preventing Migraine Headaches, Depression, Insomnia, and Bipolar Syndrome by Dr. John A. Allocca

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GUT HEALTH – Our Second Brain

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Seratonin: The chemistry of Well-Being

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Neurological Control — Neurotransmitters

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Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: A Brain Illness

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DEVELOPING A SOCIAL NEUROSCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING OF YOUTH by E. Koller

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SEE ALSO:

+LOOKING AT THE NURSERY AS THE SEAT OF VIOLENT CRIME

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