In writing this post I realize that it became very lengthy and would benefit from being divided into two posts. I apologize that I am not willing to take the time right now to figure out where this break should occur!
Part of what I wish to accomplish in the writing of this post is a reply to “Lee’s” comment found at the end of my last post —
I am ordering and intend to read ASAP this book:
A few days ago my daughter, who is a professional sociologist and researcher, attended a luncheon in the state capitol of North Dakota. She was able to sit next to and visit with Robin Karr-Morse as they discussed many topics related to the permanent and severe lifelong consequences of living in a body whose development on all levels was detoured by early stress from trauma.
My daughter later relayed to me the gist of an analogy that Robin uses to describe the body-based reactions severe early trauma survivors have. To them – me – us – there is always a White Tiger in the room.
My exact knowledge of the details of the discussion that my daughter and Robin had is sketchy at best. A mention was made of research that compared the stress response to a minor kind of disturbance between little ones who had not been chronically traumatized and those who had been traumatized. When the minor stressor was presented, the trauma-altered kids had a massive stress reaction in their body with a very slow ability to return to a calm state than did the non-trauma altered little ones. In some cases the non-trauma little people did not even respond at all.
I think the point was that to trauma-altered development people there is ALWAYS a White Tiger in the room.
I will ask my daughter again when she has time to retell this story to me. In the meantime as I begin my day in this body that is way-too slow to heal this nasty reaction I still have even with antibiotics to a cold I picked up from my 2 1/2 year old grandson (who brought it home from daycare while I was visiting up north) – I am tempted to refine the White Tiger analogy in this way: The White Tiger threat that I live with is not in the ROOM at all times – it is IN MY BODY.
Because I am not and will never be anything like a ‘mental health professional’ I am not limited in my ability to combine information I glean from multiple sources into my own assessment of how I am in the world. I can only offer guesses about what life in a trauma-altered body is like for anyone else.
When it comes to trying to use knowledge that DOES fit our condition by using existing language-words to describe our survivor reality, I suggest that what our true ‘condition’ is remains at this point in time — unknown.
If I would be asked to say on-the-spot what is ‘wrong’ with me I would simply say, “I have nearly the most severe kind of insecure attachment disorder possible.”
Now, experts might describe what is ‘wrong’ with me as an adult version of “Disorganized-Disoriented Insecure Attachment.” Yet there is one other ‘more severe’ category infrequently mentioned in the research literature called “Cannot Classify.” Maybe I fit that one. I don’t specifically know, and at this point at my age of 61 I don’t care what anyone – including myself – choose to name how my body is in the world. I don’t think anyone can even accurately name ‘my condition’ – so it hardly matters except as a ‘diagnosis’ is needed to let those on one side of the abyss I mentioned communicate with those on their own side about how they might understand me.
Most importantly, there is no way to FIX what is ‘wrong’ with me. I know that now.
Everyone with an insecure attachment disorder – which Dr. Allan Schore mentions is approximately 45% of our population – also has what he calls ‘an empathy disorder’. I strongly believe that some version of an insecure attachment disorder, created through unstable, inadequate and usually traumatic early attachment relationships, lies at the origin of every known ‘ mental illness’ we might name.
Most certainly the most severe insecure attachment disorders such as Disorganized-Disoriented are directly related to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and to Complex PTSD. Those of us with the most early-trauma-altered development are also probably related in the ‘family tree of physiological consequence’ to what can be called Reactive Attachment Disorder.
What matters most to me is that those of us who find our way to the gate of new understanding through which we enter to discover that ‘what is wrong with us that cannot be fixed’ is ultimately about nearly complete failure of the adults in our earliest attachment environment during the first 33 years of life (conception to age two) to take adequate care of us.
In cases such as mine where active, terrifying and terrible hatred and abuse was directed at us from the time we are born — the only reason we are alive, and are able to function with any kind of competence, is that some kind of miracle occurred to preserve us that it seems NOBODY is yet able to identify or describe.
I realize that my use of the world ‘miracle’ to describe my own preservation within a personal hell nearly beyond imagination from the time I was born smacks of a shady version of either ‘faith’ or ‘witchcraft’ where MAGIC is assumed to accomplish unexplainable ends that are understood by no one.
I am content with this. I would rather salvage what I can of myself in this body in my lifetime with awareness that what happened to me and how my physiological development was altered is a complete mystery to everyone at this point in our human evolution than to completely shortchange myself by stopping short with some made-up explanation by ‘someone’ that is not remotely true or accurate.
Years ago my brother who is very successfully in the business of making money with his used bookstore told me that the writing I do lies within the genre of ‘forensic autobiography’.
I think that is what all survivors of severe early abuse and even of later traumas they experience without having been traumatized during their most formative years are ACTUALLY involved in.
We are gathering every single minuscule and larger fact that we can find in an attempt to solve a mystery so big it covers generations.
We survivors cannot afford to join the gangs that scamper around the ‘killed beasts’ revealed by ongoing research in many fields of study about what early infant-child trauma, neglect and abuse DO to the BODY of tiny victims. If we are going to concern ourselves at all with the carcass of at these research kill sites we need to AT LEAST join the flying scavengers while they scan for the bigger picture.
Proprietary information might serve those who stand to make fortunes through inventions in the business world, but for those who need the truth in order to heal and to remain alive, it is the combined truths we can glean from all possible sources of information that we need to find as they intersect and overlap.
We will know we are on the right track for ourselves when this information, as we discover it, RINGS TRUE for us IN OUR BODY. The resonance of truth within us is unmistakable. We do not need to worry about what is true for anyone else, not even about what is true for any given ‘expert’. We need to pay attention to the truth that rings and resonates within our own self because it will be those truths that will lead us to freedom.
Of course our study is not a random one. We have to head toward ‘attachment’ and ‘developmental neuroscience’ related fields of research to find what we are looking for.
For example, two books that I highly recommend for clue exposure to the bigger picture we need to see are these:
The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping The Hormone Of Calm, Love, And Healing by Kerstin Uvnas Moberg, Roberta Francis, Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg and Translated by Roberta Francis (Sep 16, 2003)
This book describes the ‘other half’ of the stress response system’s function. Why do nearly all experts leave this half out? Whose purpose does it serve to be ignoring the most important parts of this stress response puzzle? This neglect does more to keep the White Tiger present in people’s lives than we can imagine – until we read this book.
This book addresses another area of fact-gathering toward accurate information we need, as well. Early severe distressful trauma during the first 33 months of life does not, for example
– ‘just’ change the way our right brain – the emotional regulatory and social interaction part of our brain develops
– or the way that our left brain develops
– or the way the corpus callosum that processes information between our brain hemispheres
– or even the well-recognized changes early trauma causes to the formation and operation of the brain’s amygdala as it handles learning and fear responses
– or our brain’s memory processing hippocampus
to name just a few of the changes in physiological development that distressful insecure and unsafe attachment earliest human interactions create.
I recognize for myself that every possible change was made in my development that could be made – because I could not endure and survive without these changes — was made. This includes changes to the way my DNA manifests, the way my Central Nervous System (CNS) including my brain (of course) developed, the way my Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) developed (of course including my stress-calm response system), the way my immune system developed — and on and on.
Once we can identify that the conditions of the first 33 months of our life were hurtful to us — a fact that we can easily know if our life has been problematic to us in ways we never intended and did not know how to prevent because — as we are learning — we COULD NOT — we can KNOW there was something wrong with our early attachments during those most critically formative stages of our earliest physiological development.
The common ‘believe what I say about how broken you are because you were born a flawed and inadequate human being from the start’ professional and often public response to the problems early trauma survivors live with is meant to turn us away from healing, not assist us toward it — no mater what anyone pretends to the contrary.
It is my personal stance that until proven otherwise, at least 95% of all ‘mental illness’ and physical problems such as books like “Scared Sick” describe, are all due to one process that I name as —
Trauma Altered Development (TAD)
That’s it. It’s that simple. To me, it’s that specific and that accurate.
It has long been my hope that the books I intend to publish — both as they describe what is known about what happened to my mother to turn her into a severely mentally ill monster capable of committing infant-child abuse, and as they describe what I know of what happened to me — are about Trauma Altered Development.
Trauma Altered Development happens in our BODY — which then, of course, affects every single aspect of our existence over the course of our lifespan. TAD is an inclusive experience because we are a whole being. Everything about our being alive is connected and is subject to influences we experience being alive within a living environment.
It is not ‘just’ our ‘mind’ that becomes ‘ill’. That is as ludicrous an incrimination to me as it is inaccurate. When a White Tiger sets up residence in our life, there is no part of us that is not threatened and that will not respond in any way possible to keep us alive.
Any new paradigm shift (the world is not flat, earth is not at the center of our solar system) requires growth of the ‘group mind’ in order for new truth to be ‘accepted into evidence’. Before this social shift of consciousness happens, those who hold to the new truth – as it IS the truth – are thinking with ‘uncommon sense’. If we understand what Trauma Altered Development means, we are currently thinking against versus thinking with the ‘common sense of the masses’.
As I think about the abyss I mentioned with those who experienced TAD on one side and those who did not experience TAD on the other side, what currently keeps us apart could most accurately be called NONSENSE.
Most simply stated at this moment I would put it all this way (Well, that was interesting. The battery in my wireless computer mouse died at the instant I finished typing the word ‘way’. I am certainly glad I had another battery on hand!):
– The continued evolution of the human species demands that we continually transfer what was previously considered ‘nonsense’ contained within ‘uncommon sense’ to a position of ‘common sense’ when a new truth is discovered.
– This process underlies advances in human civilization.
On a personal level of advancement it is that which rings true to us in our body that we can learn to recognize as truth that helps us.
Those of us who have suffered TAD, and who have tried so many different avenues toward healing to no real effect, have always been able to recognize ‘untruths’ when we have encountered them.
The communications about what causes TAD (traumatic stress from inadequate attachment environments mostly in the first 33 months of life) and about its lifelong consequences needs to be put into accurate language so that those of us on each side of this abyss I mention can talk to one another effectively.
Personally for me, the many years of gobbiltygoop that was fed to me through every avenue of so-called ‘recovery’ channels I approached in therapy and in self-help books did not ring true to me. The truth is that all of it FELT like nonsense to me.
But because I was only one person lost in the commotion of the ‘common sense’ of the masses I could not recognize or honor my own ‘uncommon sense’ that there was far more to the story than everyone knew, myself included.
Now I know I was right from the beginning. The first clue I had came in 1980 when I entered a 7-week in-patient treatment center for addiction treatment.
Marijuana was my drug of choice. At that time nobody discussed how this drug is so often used to self-medicate depression. I had to translate my entire experience through the treatment jargon of ‘alcoholism’ which by itself was a very difficult process for me.
Because treatment program I entered followed a 12-Step protocol I was introduced very early to the idea that if I ‘did things right’ I would be ‘restored to sanity’. When my gut told me instantly that this could not possibly happen because I had NEVER experienced what ‘sanity’ was before so I could not have it ‘restored’ to me — all the therapists literally ganged up on me so that I was ‘brow beaten’ into accepting (A) That I was resistant to treatment, (B) That I did not really want to recover, (C) That I was using the defense mechanisms of ‘denial’ and ‘rationalization’ and ‘intellectualization’ to avoid the truth about myself, (D) and that I was therefore shamefully a ‘bad’ person, doing this ‘wrong’, that I had to change and accept their way which my gut told me was nonsense — ETC!
I detected this pattern of mismatch between what rang true and felt wrong about what I was told about myself and ‘recovery’ in every self-help book I read, and in no direction did I find validation for my own experience of reality. True, I worked hard with determination and willingness to change myself and therefore change my life the best that I could using the ‘nonsense’ available to me. I could find no other option.
But back then in 1980 the diagnostic category of Borderline Pesonality Disorder which I think best describes my mother on its extreme end, did not even exist yet. Back then technology had not advanced far enough for the most accurate details about how early infant attachment interactions form the body-brain to be discovered. Back then computers and the internet were not available to find the latest information, either.
We are all advancing together in these days of rapid planetary growth, healing and change. I accept this. I honor it. At the same time I will no longer tolerate what I know to be nonsense as it applies to my circumstances of life. My uncommon sense has led me to the truth about what happened to me through severe early trauma. Validation of my uncommon truth is coming daily as the common sense of the masses increasingly recognizes
– that Trauma Altered Development DOES happen through trauma caused my unsafe and insecure early attachment relationships in the first 33 months of life
– that Trauma Altered Development causes the greatest damage no matter what other traumas and abuse happens after these earliest developmental windows have closed
– that Trauma Altered Development negatively affects a human being on all levels over the course of their entire lifespan
– that no adequate assistance can be given to a Trauma Altered Development person unless and until the truth about our reality has been recognized, accepted and validated.
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