Thursday, October 09, 2008
From email to Roxanne
These are the two source articles (below) from the link you sent yesterday. They may or may not actually list the 89 genes. I struggle under the burden of being a lay person, and have only the one resource to call in articles from the Bibee library — am limited in how many I can call in (3 a week, and that stretches their cooperation). If I have the 89 genes I can go to the genome site and at least access abstracts for articles that site links to the specific genes. If someone could get me these 2 articles I would be so grateful!!
If I were “rich” I imagine the U in Tucson library has subscriptions for many journals that lay people could access right there….but….
- I suspect that all addictions hook into these original pathways to accomplish (ineffectually) what secure attachments are supposed to, by design, do for us instead.
Especially for those of us who are by design highly sensitive, severe trauma quite simply and most profoundly, breaks our heart. The researchers do not want to talk about essential sadness and grief even as they identify actual genes that operate on “the grief system.” The study of genetics will ultimately give all of us a common language, even beyond molecules. But our genes cannot be separated from our attachment core as human beings. All genes manifest in an experience-dependent fashion – in relationship. And toxic is as toxic does.
thank you, Roxy — and much love, Linda
I would add, all these grief changes affect how our genes manifest in our nervous system, which includes our brain, and in how our immune system operates. If we are deprived of optimal attachment experiences from conception, the development and operation of our entire body will be compromised – to one degree or another.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I believe that the fundamental tipping point with trauma happens when an individual, on some level, determines that they are absolutely alone in a world that is extremely dangerous and life threatening. That is why the number one protective factor against ongoing trauma consequences is adequate social support.
We are a social species. We are predatory herd animals with a choice. Usually. There are time when an individual’s trauma threshold is crossed and the body becomes reactive rather than active. At such times we become dangerous to ourselves and to one another. What we must realize is that we can reach a point biologically when in fact our bodies are preying on themselves. This happens when a combination of factors so tips the individual internal balance that an array of contributing factors overwhelms the body’s ability to reestablish its rapport not only with the external environment, but with the internal one as well.
Through evolution the human species has been given a vast array of adaptive mechanisms that has allowed it to survive unimaginable traumas f every sort. Just because we live in so-called “modern times” does not protect us from the ancient physiological consequences of overwhelming trauma.
It is only logical that what overwhelms one person might not overwhelm the next. Within each of us there are a variety of factors operating behind the scenes that ultimately means that the gene pool of our species will remain flexible and adaptable, as a species, to just about any kind of nasty situation that could possibly happen.
Yet there are many adaptations that come both with a cost and with a price. The ultimate cost is our life, with the ultimate price being our death. Short of that, all kinds of what we might see as deviations allows the individual to survive what their “self” might not be able to endure. The body has gating systems, like locks and levees that control the flow of vast amounts of water. Yet within our bodies too much of the wrong kinds of trauma without adequate resources to cope with it, creates a situation where the water is more like molten lava and stress from trauma literally fries us to death from the inside out.
It is also entirely possible that in this process we take others with us. Ask anyone who has been raised in a violent, abusive environment where the parents who are supposed to protect and care for their young yet put most if not all of their efforts into destroying them instead. Destruction of their offspring is the ultimate cost any species will pay in an environment that is malevolent, threatening and unsafe. It happens when the balance of life has been tipped in the opposite direction.
There are common sense factors that lead to well-being versus ill-being that most five year old children could probably name for us in case, as adults, we have forgotten them. They are stable for our species from birth to death in spite of the fact that we seem to reason that we can manipulate them to the far reaches of what our bodies can tolerate. Clean air and water, adequate food free from toxins, shelter from the elements, freedom from violent attach, close and caring relationships, access to adequate medial attention, and protection from harm if we need it.
Intertwined with all these factors are the human needs to communicate, express, and search for novelty. All of these factors share in common the human need for access to life-support resources and the ability to use them. On top of the basic foundation we reach forward to the future in preparation for producing offspring and for caring for them. Yet if we are out of oxygen we will not think of our thirst. If we are dying of thirst our hunger for food will not be our most important concern. If bombs are exploding out of nowhere and blowing up our families we will not be thinking at that instant of the needs of our neighbors.
If we are faced with oblivion in the next instant of time our bodies will not allow us to choose how we are going to respond to threat. It will take matters onto and into itself to give the ongoing life of our species the best possible chance of survival possible. To the extent that the body has to take over, the conscious mind will be left out of the picture.
We are thus going back in time to when nothing was certain, nothing was known except the necessity of the body keeping itself alive. At those time we essentially become a species of one. As far as the body is concerned, there is nobody left to keep the species alive but us.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Of all the terror hot spots in the world, an infant’s cradle, crib, nursery, a child’s sandbox or playground, should not be one of them. And yet this is exactly where traumas land, especially when our little ones are being born not only into a present world of trauma, but with trauma already programmed and implanted within their bodies.
The number one requirement for a good life is that a growing human being be in a safe and secure environment. Humans, including our brains, nervous systems, immune systems, our bodies, develop in an interactive experience dependent fashion. That means that we “learn” constantly within and by environments that are either safe or toxic. Threat to safety, threat to life, threat to the integrity of the self from birth will create a biologically different human being than one who has developed in and by a world of secure safety. Two different kinds of people end up prepared by these two different worlds – either benevolent or malevolent worlds, to live in these two different worlds.
The trauma that parents and early caregivers are carrying as a part of what is called their allostatic load will impact the development of their children in a threat-to-life way whether we intend to happen or not. Research shows that women who were in their third trimester of pregnancy and close to ground zero during the terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11, and who developed PTSD through that experience, gave birth to babies with PTSD. Those babies, as do the offspring of the Holocaust experience, are going to live with the consequences of overwhelming trauma built into every biological level of their existence for the rest of their lives. In addition, it is entirely possible that they will biologically pass the effects of their own trauma experiences on to their own offspring.
Human evolution has prepared us with an almost unbelievable ability to adapt to our environments. It is that process of adaptation that I want to pass on to you in hopes that this information will help to lessen and alleviate trauma and its consequences as it is operating on so many global levels within our human societies. I want this book to be translated into many languages, and to find its way into the hands and homes of all who can find something helpful within its pages the world over.
And in the reading of this book I want all to realize that the nature and impact of the traumas and their impact, that lead you to read it, are shared around the globe, to a lesser or a greater extent, depending on simply on where you or where you were, are at a given time and place.
Traumas kill and maim us and those we love. When someone we love life is threatened or dies, and we survive, that traumatizes us also. Never in the evolution of our amazing species were we programmed, except in the worst possible circumstances, to endure traumas alone. The number one aspect of resiliency that keeps us going as a species, true the world over, is our connection to others in a caring social network. This book is meant to bring to you the care, effort and life’s work of thousands of researchers and their assistants who have gathered information to help all of us understand our place in a world that can be dangerous and overwhelming.
Through this book I hope to create and cast a net of safety and a web of empowering information gathered by these people in our caring human network, people that we will never meet personally but have, nonetheless, given the gift of their lives toward assisting others to gain a greater sense of well-being versus ill-being in their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and especially in the lives of the children worldwide that are the hope of the future for our species.
I began work on this book when I realized that there was something terribly wrong with me that nobody I had ever encountered could describe or explain. I have had to go back in my thinking and research further than the moment of my first breath, further than before the terrible traumatic labor my mother and I experienced as I was coming into this world, further back to the terrible traumas my mother must have experienced in her very young life, back before her life to the processes and circumstances that must have surrounded her when she was born, back to the fact that there was something terribly wrong with the people that not only neglected and hurt her, but also and did not protect her in absolute safety from the moment she was born.
I believed that I had enough information to write this book based on the 18 years of torture, violence and abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother and through the neglect of my father until I was diagnosed a little over a year ago with invasive, advanced, aggressive breast cancer. Thanks to the outstanding medical care I have been given through the generosity of America, who cared for me even though I could not personally afford that care, I am still alive and am absolutely dedicated to the writing of this book before I die – should that event be in my near or distant future.
And if I should die before this book is in its final edited form, I am counting on my children and my siblings to finish it for me. I will extract from them that promise so that this book can be my legacy and the gift of my life to all of you.
Can you, I ask any country, guarantee your citizens safe passage through life from the cradle to the grave? Understandably, there are natural circumstances, natural disasters, which cannot be prevented. But as a matter of conscience, are we safe from threat of violence and undo harm in your country, no matter what?
I ask you this, and no more do I ask, forever more.
For those of you who had pretty good, or “good enough” caregiving in your childhood, and did not suffer from severe trauma especially in your first and second year of life, and did not suffer from sexual abuse or trauma before the age of 5, and then had an adequate childhood, your brains were formed in what can be called a secure attachment environment, and that means in a benevolent social world. You have a good brain foundation. You have so much going for you. Please do not let your combat experience ruin your lives, because it can – and if you let it – I promise you, trauma will not only ruin your life, but will negatively affect everyone you ever care about – especially your children.
For those of you who did not have a secure attachment from birth, your brain has already suffered damage to its structure and operating abilities so that it is not formed to work in a benevolent world. On the far end of the spectrum, if you were neglected and abused from birth to 2, and if not then, then after age 2, you are extremely at risk for even more serious trauma-consequence difficulties.
I cannot make any guesses as to what kind of backgrounds my readers actually had, so I will try to clarify the range of damages and the range of recovery.
It disturbs me that Scaer’s book on trauma and resiliency does not even have the word resiliency in the index. It doesn’t have learning or associations in their, either. It mentions the world thalamus once, and doesn’t list plasticity. Like I am supposed to find what I need written between the lines? Because what I need most I won’t find in there evidently.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I think about what I want in my life, having just yesterday finished my year’s worth of treatment for my aggressive, advanced breast cancer, and all I can think of is that I want to finish a book based on what I know from the abuse and neglect I experienced from birth that can help someone have a better life. I think that if I get enough words recorded even if I die before the book is done my daughter can go through my words and find the book in here and finish it for me. I want her to promise that.
It isn’t the stories that I want to talk about. What I imagined today is a beautiful ocean beach with a large hill behind it. I see my words about what I know about trauma as a monstrous tidal wave growing far out to sea. I see the force of my passion that something good can come out of my experience swelling that wave. I see a host of tiny little boats, far from one another, far from shore, not even knowing which way to safe landing. I see the wave lifting those boats at its front edge and the volume of water pushing the boats close to one another and carrying them at the front edge of the wave safely to shore. The people in the boats have time to climb the hill out of the way of the tidal wave before it crashes with full force upon the shore.
I do not carry a string of medical degrees behind my name. I am not a professional. I am not a therapist. But I know where I came from. I had a quickening the other day, an awakening, when I made the quantum leap from considering the crisis my mother’s self experienced from birth compassionately to being able to accept that my mother was not ONLY an abused child whose body adapted and left her mind behind, and was not ONLY a violent psychotic borderline. Her behavior and her treatment of me was ALSO criminally pathological.
Maybe I should say: “I made this whole thing up. Any connection between the words in this book and reality are purely accidental!” Like the storytellers say, “All stories are true, and some of them really happened.” The only information in this book that I know for fact is what actually happened to me. The rest of it is about trying to learn what the meaning of this is….. for myself, and as it may help someone else.
It hit me as I sat and looked at my front door, and suddenly imagined my mother being in my house, opening that door, walking across my yard and into the street of my neighborhood and laying so much as one of her fingers in an aggressive fashion on one of the children that live around me. I imagined what would have happened if she had done so in one of her so-frequent rages. I imagined her even doing that for 30 seconds to someone else’s child, or to a full grown adult. And suddenly I started doing the math in my mind. I figured at the minimum she violently physically assaulted me a minimum of 3 times a week for 18 years. Adding up what I would consider a mild sentence of 5 years for each violent assault, and adding onto that 50 years each for two attempted murders against me and one against my sister, I came up with a minimum jail sentence for my mother of 14,190 years.
Those figures are the tip of the iceberg of what my parents did to me in my childhood. I would have to come up with nearly the equivalent sentence for my father who knew what was going on and either watched or walked away. I know what I am talking about. My own experience has been my teacher.
I studied infant brain development and resulting brain changes and emotional dysregulation for a year, and then took a year off to be treated for my advanced, aggressive cancer, and now I’m back. I only hope that I can give adequate voice to what needs to be said about vulnerabilities to trauma and resulting brain and body changes that are possible if the trauma cycles are not completed. It’s all about what happens when the natural patterns of rupture and repair are interrupted. I kid you not.
What if our world kept all of us safe? What if our world kept us all in danger? All of us, no exceptions?
Once our trust in the safety of ourselves in the world has been violated and broken, it can never be restored – innocence is lost….
August 31, 2008
When we use the word “pathways” we are, in its use, suggesting its fuller parameter which refers to “history.” In order for any kind of pathway to exist, some action must have occurred in TIME that is related to the existence of the pathway. Even within the brain itself, for a pathway to exist, a history of prior connectivity has previously occurred.
It is this connection between previously and pathway and history that lets us establish our study of our bodies in interaction with the environment that is our life.