+WRITING ABOUT WORDLESS TERROR IN A CONTAMINATED CHILDHOOD

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I am about to set my feet upon a path today that I will at times lay upon as if I am dying, at times crawl upon, at times slink along, and hopefully at times march along strongly as I try this week to prepare a manuscript of my childhood stories to send to an editor I am blessed to have found who is willing to help pull together this first book on my childhood.

There is bound to be some spill-over as I fight out this battle over words to describe what happened to me in enough detail to convince readers of two things:  I am telling the truth and it matters.

In order to tell this truth I have to use words, and because words were used from the time I was born as viscous and deadly weapons by my mother, all words that I consider and use to tell my story are contaminated by definition.

At this moment as I prepare myself for this week ahead I am afraid.  I can use logic all I want to tell myself that “It’s OK.  You are all grown up.  You survived what was done to you by your mother.  She can’t reach you.  She can’t touch you.  She is dead dead dead.”

But I cannot do this work without going “back there” into the 18 years of hell I spent being inhuman, being evil, being The Devil’s Child sent as a curse upon my mother’s life.  With all the information I now have about how broken my mother was, about how the neglect, maltreatment, abuse, lack of love and acceptance, lack of WHATEVER coupled with WHATEVER dark and toxic forces that shaped my mother’s genetic constitution to permanently remove her from the universe of sanity and reason – I see at this moment no way to take this factual information into my past with me so I can be two places at the same time – here – and there.

It might help to wrap myself tightly within a sort of invisibility cloak as I travel back there to retrieve some version of MY childhood story.  The fabric of this cloak is woven of threads made up of the awareness that I only have to do this once.  One time only.  THIS one time only.

But in order for this journey to be a ‘one time’, I am aware that I have to do it right.  I need protection.  I need a gas mask.  I need a suit to keep my mother’s contamination of my childhood, her contamination of me as her growing daughter off of my skin, out of my airways.

My mind wants to KNOW what the title of this book is as if having the title shuts Pandora’s Box forever with the scary, awful stuff inside.  I don’t WANT to jump inside that box and wrestle again with the demons that infected and overwhelmed, in fact consumed and BECAME the mind of my mother.  I cannot tell my story without being there with her madness because WHO and WHAT she believed me to be WAS the darkness within her.

Only I didn’t know it.  How could I have known it?  From the first breath I ever took on this earth I was already guilty of being a murderess.  “The Devil sent you to kill me while you were being born.”  That being the beginning of my life, the beginning of my relationship with my mother, being just the BEGINNING of her verbal attacks, nothing ever got any better.

My infancy and childhood with my mother happened within a thick, gooey, sticky, slurpy poisonous stew of malevolent darkness.  Sometimes this stew was volcano hot.  Sometimes it was glacial cold.  My mother had all the power in the universe to keep me a hidden captive underneath its scummy, putrefying crust.

But I stop myself here.  I have the power to CHOOSE the words I will put in this book of my infancy-childhood.  I will encounter words that suck me into that horrible place.  I do not want those words.  I am hopeful that I can JUST do my best to tell what few stories I have about what few memories I have and let THAT be THAT.

As I work to write staying on MY path I will need to watch carefully for the defining edges of it so that I don’t fall into the infernos of my mother’s madness.  My mind did not form itself for the first 18 years of my life having any idea at all where the boundary line was between my own self and my own mind – and my mother’s.  Because she was a severe (though undiagnosed) Borderline, the borders of the universes that separated us did not exist.

My childhood was contaminated.  I was born contaminated.  There really is no story to tell.  There is a description of profound contamination that has more in common with being born out of my mother’s womb into a deadly radioactive environment – that exploded while she was in labor with me.

The truth of what happened to me, even of what happened to my mother IS beyond words.  The core of trauma that shaped her and hence shaped me does not exist where words are.  In fact, this trauma acted itself out beyond the range of anyone’s detection as if what cannot be named does not exist.  It is time to name it.

The so-called stories of my childhood?  They are no more about the reality of what happened to me than is my cat’s lose hair stuck to the cushion where she sleeps ACTUALLY my cat.  (Great line for the book’s intro, by the way.)

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I think about my piano keyboard right now, and imagine that there are notes that are so high and so low that they don’t actually exist on the keyboard because they lie outside the range of human ability to detect them.

My life with my mother was like that.  What actually happened DID happen because NOBODY detected the ‘notes’ my mother was playing for me.  It is my challenge as a writer to transpose the experience of being raised as my mother’s inhuman, evil devil’s child into a range of notes-words that CAN be heard by others.

Because in the reality of my childhood with my mother words were contaminated weapons, I have to chose words now carefully and run them through a filter so that they can be cleaned and detoxified, decontaminated and made safe for human consumption.

What happened to me from the moment I was born and continued over the next 18 years of my childhood happened ‘under the cloak of darkness’.  My mother was able to effectively construct and maintain two worlds.  One of these worlds on one side of her Borderline was designed to deceive the public.  On the other side of her Borderline was the world that she designed, constructed and maintained JUST FOR ME as her evilness projection.

It is evidently my job to transpose what happened to me on the darkest side of her Borderline into language that can be understood by ‘the public’.  I ask two questions:

(1)  Is it possible write about wordless terror?

(2)  Is it possible to write of this terror beautifully?

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In other words, it is time for both me and my newly found writing assistant to become WORD WARRIORS.

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+HOPE FOR HEALING TRAUMA IN THE BODY

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Where can severe trauma survivors look for our best-guess for healing?  In a way this next direction I am going with my study, reading and writing surprises me.  Yet at the same time I am grateful for both this inner guidance system I seem to have that tells me what I most need for healing and for the fact that again and again, I trust and follow this guidance.

Not long ago I wrote a post about an article I had found sometime in the past, printed, and added to the ever expanding pile of papers that grows here on my desk in front of my computer.  By the time I picked it up and read it through and wrote my post about it, I had no memory of how, where or when I had found it online.  The information I will be working with next for as long as it takes me to understand it as thoroughly as I possibly can comes from a book that was referenced in that article.

I ordered this book, written by this Swedish doctor:

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 (Hardcover – Sept. 16, 2003)

The book is lovely, solid and comforting even in its design and construction.  It is well made and well written, and as I hold it in my hands and begin to explore its message and teaching, it gives me great hope of healing for any trauma survivor, especially for those of us whose body-brain was designed and built by, for and within early infant-childhood environments of malevolent treatment.

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I first want to share with you a copy of an image that appears within the introduction to this book.  It is a simple graphic illustration about what everyone needs, especially trauma survivors who will have to work extra, extra hard to reach this desired balance in our body, nervous system, brain, mind and self between states of alarm and states of calmness:

Infant-child abuse and other survivors of severe trauma DO NOT get to experience what this balanced harmony feels like -- if at all possible, it's time that we DID!

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As we look at this picture we are really looking at a visual depiction of what safe and secure attachment gives to us.  If this balance had existed in our parents, especially our within our mother from the time we were conceived and born, our physiological systems including our brain would have been able to develop within us to match this desired state for ourselves.

In early environments of threat, danger and trauma, this picture was missing within our universe because it was missing within our earliest caregivers whose job it was to MAKE an equally safe and secure environment for us so that we could have safe and secure attachment relationships that would have built our body-brain into an entirely different one that the one we ended up with.

I believe that the more we can learn about the information presented in this book the better we will be able to begin to recreate safe and secure patterns within our body-brain-mind-self NOW, no matter what our early forming environment was like.

In fact, we might be able to think about our condition in these most simple terms.  A trauma-built body-brain, formed through unsafe and insecure attachment conditions, continues to run on the fuel of cortisol and the stress hormones creating patterns of freeze, flight and fight response that translates into ‘anxiety problems’.

On the other hand, early safe and secure attachments design and build a body-brain that can run on the fuel of oxytocin or the ‘feel good’ chemical of peaceful calmness and positive connection to self, others and the world.  It is the body-in-balance as the above picture describes that is our goal for our healing.  Oxytocin is a critical neurotransmitter of peace and cooperation.  Cortisol is a critical neurotransmitter of stress, threat and danger.

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I find a powerful confirmation of my intuition that I am moving in the right, good and healing direction in my studies when I read in Dr. Moberg’s introduction that she immediately mentions the biases that exist in MOST mainstream medical research.  Those readers who followed the difficult time I had in my struggles with Dr. Dacher Keltner’s book will understand how affirming, comforting and freeing it is for me to find an authority on the subject of human ill- and well-being who recognizes the biases up front that Dr. Keltner seemed to be oblivious to yet relies upon and utilizes heavily in his work.

Moberg notes that fully 90% of published research focuses on the stress response, or sympathetic GO branch of our nervous system while only 10% is devoted to the parasympathetic STOP branch (remember:  pair-a-brakes) branch.  She states about this bias:

“…an interest in the physiology of performance, exertion, and defense has dominated existing scientific knowledge and current research to an extent that we do not always recognize.  This way of looking at things, or shall I say those blinders, has until now kept those of us who work in the medical sciences from seeing the calm and connection response as a separate and valuable physiological system.  Thus, for me, studying this system has involved an element of swimming against the tide with respect to the political mainstream in my profession.”  (pages xii-xii of her introduction)

This imbalance in research focus HIGHLY impacts infant-child abuse and maltreatment survivors, as it does anyone experiencing difficulties with so-called anxiety (including dissociation, PTSD, depression, personality disorders, etc.)  We are in desperate need not only of healing, but of accurate information that can help us DO SO.

As Moberg writes:

“The neglected physiological pattern I will describe in this book is the opposite pole to the fight or flight reaction.  Like most other mammals, we humans are able not only to mobilize when danger threatens but also to enjoy the good things in life, to relax, to bond, to heal.  The fight or flight pattern has an opposite [effect] not only in the events of our lives but also in our biochemical system.  This book deals with the other end of the seesaw, the body’s own system for calm and connection.

“This calm and connection system is associated with trust and curiosity instead of fear, and with friendliness instead of anger.  The heart and circulatory system slow down as the digestion fires up.  When peace and calm prevail, we let our defenses down and instead become sensitive, open, and interested in others around us.  Instead of tapping the internal “power drink,” [of stress-related neurotransmitters] our bodies offer a ready-made healing nectar.  Under its influence, we see the world and our fellow humans in a positive light; we grow, we heal.  This response is also the effect of hormones and signaling substances, but until now, the connections among these vital physiological effects have not been fully recognized and studied.

“The neglect of this system tells us much about the values that underlie scientific research.  The calm and connection system is certainly as important for survival as the system for defense and exertion, and it is equally as complex.  Nevertheless, the stress system is explored much for frequently….

“One reason why research has been so slanted may be that goal-directed activity is emphasized so strongly in our culture.  We are used to defining activity as something moving, something we can see.  But many of the calm and connection system’s processes and effects are not visible to the naked eye.  They also occur slowly and gradually, and they are not as easy to isolate or define as are the more dramatic actions involving attack and defense….physiologists have studied the clearly visible fight or flight mechanism but have been less able to perceive the more hidden and subtle calm and connection system.

“The calm and connection system is most often at work when the body is at rest.  In this apparent stillness, an enormous amount of activity is taking place, but it is not directed to movement or bursts of effort.  This system instead helps the body to heal and grow.  It changes nourishment to energy, storing it up for later use.  Body and mind become calm.  In this state, we have greater access to our internal resources and creativity.  The ability to learn and to solve problems increases when we are not under stress.

“I believe that it is extremely important to increase our understanding of the physical and psychological workings of this antithesis to the fight or flight system.  We need both, since for each individual in each situation there is an optimal way to react.  But it is now well known that long-term stress can produce a variety of psychological and physical problems.  If we are to be healthy in the long run, the two systems must be kept in balance.”  (pages x-xiii of her introduction)

Moberg states very clearly that her interest in the connection system is rooted in her experience of mothering her four children.  Her description of mothering would be the antithesis of my mother’s experience with mothering me.  As I have already noted, it is very clear that the vagus nerve and autonomic nervous system of Borderline’s works with a distortion of the stress-caregiving response systems.  Moberg’s writings are about how things are SUPPOSED to work:

“In pregnancy, nursing, and close contact with my children, I experienced a state diametrically opposed to the stress I was familiar with in connection with life’s other challenges.  I was aware that the psychophysiological conditions associated with pregnancy and nursing fostered something entirely different from challenge, competition, and performance.  Inspired more than two decades ago to explore this life experience scientifically, I learned that there is a key biological marker – the subject of this book – on the trail to a physiological explanation of this state of calm and connection.”  (pages xiii-xiv of her introduction)

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It does not surprise me one bit that it would be not only a female researcher, but also one that has her roots on interested grounded in her experience of mothering that I would now turn to for answers about how the terrible imbalance that survivors of severe infant-child trauma have in their body-brain as a consequence of being formed by trauma can be healed.  In profoundly critical ways early abuse survivors were deprived of the safe and secure early attachments – especially with our mothers – that we desperately needed to grow a healthy balance of peace and calmness into our body-brain from the start.

For all the millions and millions of American children and adults that suffer from obesity, depression and other anxiety-related problems, from addictions, from relationships dis-orders, I believe that it will be in gaining factual information about how our body-brain can be rewired for safety, security, connection, and peaceful calmness that our best chance will come for healing.  I am most hopeful that Dr. Moberg’s writings will give me many important answers that I seek.  I will literally keep you posted on what I discover!

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+WHEN TOO MUCH OF TOGETHER BEGS AGAIN FOR DISSOCIATION

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Voices in the crowd — Sometimes voices combine, sometimes they diminish and quieten, sometimes some are angry, many times they are sad.

Faces in the mirror — Sometimes pieces of the broken mirror of my infant-childhood combine and we see far more of the picture reflected in that collection than the rest of us can easily handle.  Often times it is best that most of us don’t know — all together at the same time — what we do not come forward to speak.

After writing this morning’s post I am largely still wandering that beach of slaughter, where so many end up suffering for the rest of their lives from what was done to them that changed them when they were so tiny, so innocent, so helpless — and hence, so wounded.

I often suspect that to a large extent why I did not grow up to be an abusive mother like my mother did is that I did not come out of my childhood with a single-point self.  Instead, I exist as a collection of we.  There was no combined force that could manage, as my mother did, to orchestrate a mutiny against all semblance of sanity, rightness or goodness.

Yet on some days, such as today, when too many pieces of we are facing in the same direction at the same time looking at the same part of the picture of the devastation of my childhood, we can only hang on until some of us get tired and go away to some farther corner of the universe within the body we all live inside.

We cannot stand together for very long knowing what we know about a childhood that really happened in a place not unlike the beach of Normandy.

There is a blessedness in the oblivion of smallness, of a not united front, of letting the trauma this body has found a way to transcend in the moment go again, out with the tide.

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+THE LIFE ENHANCING NATURE OF SHARED THOUGHTS

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I asked libramoon, a member of an online group, if I could post her words and my reply to them on my blog today and my request was accepted:

“In rereading this with the other jumble of thought/impressions from other readings today, I am wondering: Are what we think of as psychological “conditions” reactions to a social atmosphere that largely negates the natural? I am speaking of both the larger natural environment and the internal natural development of the individual. If we are stunted in development by traumatic events along the way which become defined by normative values which keep us stuck in an unnatural frame, perhaps we need to look to nature for a healthier framing and way out?

I am also thinking about the article you posted regarding pain. Pain is a symptom of something out of whack in the system. The social norm is to block the pain rather than look to restoring balance in the system. Is this part of the mindset that sees nature as outside of conquering man? Is this part of the mindset that honors bullying, control, power and victimization because we are defeating nature rather than honoring wisdom?”

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I was thinking about libramoon’s words last night and the post I wanted to write in response to them when I went to sleep last night thinking only one word as I passed into my world of dreams – NATURE.

I woke out of my sleep this morning with one single word in my mind in return – FRACTALS.

This thought was soon followed by another one:  Nature is nothing more and nothing less that SHARED INTELLIGENCE.

Then, as I wandered through my house in my still-waking-up state, pausing to open the curtains in my living room to let the morning light in, pausing to open the door to let all three of my eager cats in from their night of play, and on into the kitchen to start my pot of coffee, I had an entire phrase come into my mind:  “At this point in our specie’s evolution, human beings are ‘children of the half-light.”

Then, as I waited for my coffee, I opened my email to find these heart wrenching words:

Please read this reader response:

2010/02/05 at 5:58am | In reply to debbi irish.

comment by LilAdopted1 found at this link — CONTACT INFO page

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All of these pieces of thought were preceded by the November 30, 2009 Time Magazine (must read) article by Tim McGirk on our returning war veterans and PTSD-depression that I read yesterday as I ate my delicious lunch at our local laundromat café:

How One Army Town Copes with Posttraumatic Stress

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I am humbled by the rich display of humanity already presented here today in the stories presented in the words above that I have already collected upon this page.

When I read about FRACTALS I begin to wonder if this same explanation might apply to all of us as human beings within the realm of so-called NATURE as we simply exist:

“A fractal is “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole,”[1] a property called self-similarity.”

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I could go on here to talk again about how without the pristine perfection of the Alaskan homestead my parents staked claim to, without the purist life force on that mountain and valley land and my bonding with it I would not have survived my childhood.  I could talk about how at 18, after I was ‘put into the Navy’ by my parents and flew thousands of miles away from my home that I was completely without conception of what being a human being among humans even meant.

I could talk about how in my mid-twenties I was attracted to Native American teachings because I thought among those people I could AT LAST and AT LEAST find comrades that understood what NATURE was and what it meant to be so in love with that natural world that humans remained simply as diminutive representatives of the Life Force that sustains us.  I could talk about how disappointed I was to find that the forced assimilation-genocide our nation had used to destroy the People’s connection to Nature had been so effective that barely a trace of the Original Connection to the Natural World even remained alive.

I could talk about the PTSD article and say that our military is refusing to apply the two simplest measurements of both risk and contribution to PTSD-depression that could mean the difference between life and death, well-being and ill-being for our service people and their loved ones for generations to come:  (1) assess the dominant hand used by these soldiers which relates to how their brain hemispheres process ALL information, most importantly the information contained in traumatic experiences, and (2) accurately assess these soldiers’ attachment systems, which would then clearly describe how their body-brain was built either with or without trauma at its center.

I could talk today about how nature’s SHARED INTELLIGENCE might well save us all at this ‘half-lit’ juncture in human evolution.  If we ALL, all of life, is connected in one body, and if the accurate sending and receiving of communication signals all the way down to life’s molecular levels is what intelligence is all about, then we have given ourselves a most valuable tool to assist us in gaining the kind of wisdom our species now so desperately needs:  We have the technology of computers and of the internet.

This means that those of us who are so fortunate to have access to this world wide web of vital information have an unspoken obligation to use it – and use it wisely.  I believe we are doing that.

SHARED INTELLIGENCE means that we all, each and every one of us, have something critical to offer toward the betterment of life on this planet.  Right here.  Right now.

We are speaking.  We are reading.  We are listening.  We are thinking.  We are sharing.  We are learning.  We are sending and receiving signals between members of the body of our species in ways that have never happened before in the history of our species.

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While I certainly can’t say that it doesn’t exit, I can’t find the whole in the boat of my thinking.  Life continues to exist on this planet because information is signaled through communications between all of its elements – and that intimate fabric of life does not exclude human beings.

As I return to the top of this post in my thinking I note one single word in libramoon’s statement that most captivated me:  STUNTED.

Can we be, as libramoon suggests, “stunted in development by traumatic events along the way?”

I find myself wondering why it took me so many years to buy a bag of Hyacinth bulbs so that I could stick them into a pot of dirt and watch them grow into one of my most favorite flowers.  But this year I did buy them, and every day I watch them grow and develop.  In this case every one of the 12 bulbs is receiving the identical resources.  One bulb rotted.  Eleven are growing greener and taller every day.  I can see their sturdy outer leaves part as the bud of each one’s flower begins to form close to the soil.

Yet not one of the plants is the same.  There is one that is twice the size of the rest of them.  Standing at nearly seven inches it towers over the smallest which only yesterday showed its first greenery at all.  Given this band-width of normal development, what would have happened should any or all of them have suffered some degree of trauma in their development.

Do I compare the tallest and the shortest and the middle plants and say that some are stunted and some are not?  Or is it the truth that each separate plant is simply fulfilling its own individual nature by growing in the only way that it can – in its OWN way?

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The presence or absence of traumatic influences during human development simply signals through molecular pathways in the body what the condition of the world is like so that the growing body-brain of the infant-child can adjust and adapt itself in the best way it can to survive in, and even thrive in, the world it is being built for.

These beautiful Hyacinth plants I am watching are crowded together in an old plastic yellow colander I bought at our local thrift store.  The soil then has excellent drainage.  It sits in my kitchen sink directly in the even light provided by my west facing window.  I can carefully monitor the needs of this whole tribe of plants equally.  But nothing I can provide for them will change them into anything else other than what they started out being.

No matter what influences an infant-child’s development, no matter how much they have to adapt in their body-brain development to trauma, they will always come out of these earliest stages of development in the best way they possibly can.  Each one will always be a unique representation of their potential as members of our species.  But none of us, not one single one of us, can ever overcome the boundaries that make us human.  None of us can become something nature did not intend us to be.

And because of this we each represent the environment that made us in ‘natural’ ways.

Given the information in her earliest environment that my mother’s body-brain-mind-self had to work with (from both within and from outside her body), it is natural that my mother became who she was.  Given who she became, it is natural that the outflow of her condition would be what it was.  Given what my mother did to me during my development, it is natural that my body-brain-mind-self would make the kinds of adaptations and adjustments that it/I did.  There is nothing, to me, unnatural about any of this.

What happened to me, however, is that once I left my home of origin I began to look around me as I became a part of what libramoon refers to as a “social atmosphere.”  Before that time I simply had no points of reference either outside of myself or within myself that I could use for comparison.  I had no inner compass other than the natural one that I had been formed with.

My Hyacinth plants have no ability (that I know of) to compare themselves to one another.  It is only once the signaling communication that we participate in achieves some level of the ability to compare our reality with some other reality that the trouble really begins.  Before that time I believe we simply exist within the natural world in the same way that any other part of nature does.

Once we have reached what I believe to be an evolutionarily advanced state that allows for a point of reference, we enter an expanded universe of thought that includes the ability to CONTRAST some aspect of something to, with and against some aspect of something else.  Without a reference point, we cannot COMPARE or CONTRAST anything any more than my Hyacinth plants can.

The human ability to access reference points so that we can compare and contrast allows us to also form opinions as it allows us to exercise conscious choice.  Using these abilities does not separate us from NATURE.  Thinking is as natural as breathing once we have that ability.

And just as we humans breathe the same air that our planet provides for us, we think by using the same neural abilities that everyone else does.  True, my own individual lungs breathe in and exhale particular molecules.  True, my brain’s particular molecules are thinking my own thoughts as I go through life.  But at the same time these are sharing operations.  Nobody can tell me, “No!  Don’t breathe THAT air!” or “No!  Don’t think THOSE thoughts!”

My body can breathe without my conscious awareness.  My body can also think without my conscious awareness.  Again I return to another critically important concept that I see implied in libramoon’s writing:  MINDFUL.

I can choose to be mindful of both my breathing and of my thinking.  I can accomplish this because I have gained the evolutionary advantage point of HAVING a reference point.  While my mother could no doubt have gained mindfulness of her breathing, I’m not certain that in her entire life my mother could gain mindfulness in regard to her thinking.  In fact, ‘mindfulness’ is one of the primary concepts applied to recovery within the so-called Borderline condition because the ability to live a mindful life has been altered – I believe through early developmental trauma – in a Borderline’s body.

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I believe that the ability to obtain the ability to have a reference point within one’s self is an evolutionarily provided gift.  Having a reference-point ability gives us powers to discriminate, to contrast and to compare so that we can think in mindful ways.  I don’t think my mother had this ability any more than my Hyacinth plants do.

Does this mean that trauma stunted my mother’s development?  Is a plant stunted because it has no reference point and cannot compare and contrast itself to any other aspect of existence?  No.  Simply put, a gift is missing in both circumstances.

Our ability to think mindfully happens because we operate within a social atmosphere that feeds information back to us at the same time we have degrees of ability to receive this information even before we are born.  Information comes to us as forms of nutrients that build our body-brain just as surely as water, soil and light are nutrients that are building my Hyacinths.  These are shared natural processes.

If, however, a developing human being does not receive enough information about its own individual self-in-the-world, the gift of mindfulness will not come into bloom in the same way that if my Hyacinths do not receive the nutrients they need RIGHT NOW as they grow, they will not be able to form blossoms.  In this way, mindfulness is the gift of the flower of humanity.

In this way, also, I see that my mother was not stunted; she was robbed of the evolutionarily advanced gift of mindfulness.  She was not fed with the necessary nutrients within the social atmosphere of her infant-childhood to build a self that could in turn possess a viable reference point that she needed in order to accurately compare and contrast her own self within a world of others.  She could not, therefore, share a gift of mindfulness that she never received.

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My choice to mention both breathing and thinking together is not an arbitrary one.  Research on the human vagal nerve system is showing that it is directly connected to our physiological reactions to what we see ourselves ‘a part of’ and what we see ourselves ‘a part from’ as it regulates our breathing and our heart rate.

Reacting as ‘a part of’ stimulates the STOP arm of our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).  Our heart rate and our breathing slow down.  We then find ourselves on the cooperative rather than the competitive pathway, or the prosocial one.

If we react with an ‘a part from’ reaction, our heart rate and our breathing escalate with stimulation of the GO arm of our ANS, or our fight/flight response.

In this way, I suggest that WE ARE WHAT WE BREATHE and the more conscious and mindful we can become about our fastest physiological reactions within our body the more mindful we can become about our self in relationship with the entire world we live within.  The STOP reactions we have release our breath in an exhale.  The GO reactions that we have catch us with an inhale.  If we can learn to pay attention to this most basic signal from our body, we can increasingly notice with mindfulness the orientation we are taking from our internal reference point – our individual self.

Even without our mindful conscious perception, our naturally constructed social species’ body-brain is continually evaluating our degree of safety and security in the world through finely tuned assessments about what belongs and what doesn’t – what is safe and what isn’t.  These are comparing and contrasting operations that our body has formed itself to assess so that we can increase our chances of staying alive.

The more traumatic our earliest environment was the more automatic and the less mindfully conscious these patterns operate within our body because we were naturally built this way.  As we experience a lifetime of mostly automatic reactions, our body itself has taken over the reference point position, not our conscious mind.

As we begin to practice mindfulness we are creating our own bloom.  We can choose to grow this gift even if nobody gave us this gift pro bono.  Traumatized infant-children are given censored, erroneous information.  The building of an ever increasingly mindful self requires access to and sharing of truthful and accurate information.  Because we are a social species, this growth always happens through give and take within a social atmosphere, even if that atmosphere mostly exists between our own mind and our own self in online exchanges with others.

The more we access, utilize, process and digest new information the less hold any trauma we have ever experienced will have on our mindful self, and the more we will grow and blossom into being the evolutionarily advancing people nature has intended us to become.  Mindfulness, the blossom of our specie’s evolution, concerns all the information about our experience that we can consciously share with our self.  Mindfulness defines the social atmosphere we create within our self with our self.  This is the area where our healing will show its greatest accomplishments.  “Go bloom, everyone!  Go bloom!”

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NOTE:  In consideration of the tendency for some people to think that humans are separate from nature and/or superior to the natural world, all this means to me is that the ‘a part from’ pathway has been chosen rather than the ‘a part of’ pathway.  The reference point of the self has compared and contrasted itself and has made up a thinking-based fiction that has nothing to do with reality.

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+21 RICH NATIONS COMPARED ON CHILD WELL-BEING – U.S. AND U.K. AT THE BOTTOM

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Please spend some time reading the UNICEF 2007 Report Card on six measurements of the well-being of children.  The United States and the United Kingdom have total scores at the bottom of the 21 OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] industrialized nations included in this study (page 2).

While every measurement is extremely important, the one that is of greatest concern to me in regard to the well-being particularly of infants and very young children is the finding that the United States rates highest in the percentage of births per 1,000 women

ages 15-19.  See Report Card page 31, Figure 5.2f.

This report states this about teenage births:

For most girls growing up in an OECD country, the norm today is an extended education, a career, a two income household, delayed childbearing and a small family.   And it is in this context that teenage pregnancy has become a significant problem: giving birth at too young an age is now associated with wide ranging disadvantage for both mother and child – including a greater likelihood of dropping out of school, of having no or low qualifications, of being unemployed or low-paid, and of living in poor housing conditions.   But as always, association is not the same as cause.   Many girls who give birth in their teens have themselves grown up with the kind of poverty and disadvantage that would be likely to have negative consequences whether or not they wait until they are in their twenties before having children.  Becoming pregnant while still a teenager may make these problems worse, but not becoming pregnant will not make them go away.

Beyond the immediate problem, teenage fertility levels may also serve as an indicator of an aspect of young people’s lives that is otherwise hard to capture.  To a young person with little sense of current well-being – unhappy and perhaps mistreated at home, miserable and under-achieving at school, and with only an unskilled and low-paid job to look forward to – having a baby to love and be loved by, with a small income from benefits and a home of her own, may seem a more attractive option than the alternatives.   A teenager doing well at school and looking forward to an interesting and well-paid career, and who is surrounded by family and friends who have similarly high expectations, is likely to feel that giving birth would de-rail both present well-being and future hopes.

It is as an approximate measure of what proportion of teenagers fall on which side of this divide that the teenage fertility rates shown in Figure 5.2f may be an especially significant indicator of young people’s well-being.”

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I consider these findings also especially significant in light of this blog’s strong emphasis on the critical importance of safe and secure attachments as a foundation of body-brain-mind-self development of people.  Take a look at these findings.  The United States and the United Kingdom appear to be failing miserably on these measures of child well-being and are at the bottom of this combined initial attempt to measure attachment on the national level.

On page 22, Figure 4.0 shows young people’s family and peer relationships – and an OECD overview is presented in graphic form.  The Report states:  “The quality of children’s relationships is as difficult to measure as it is critical to well-being.  Nonetheless it was considered too important a factor to be omitted altogether and an attempt has therefore been made to measure the quality of ‘family and peer relationships’ using data on family structures, plus children’s own answers to survey questions.”

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Among the measurements on behaviors and risk-taking of young people presented beginning on page 26, Figure 5.0, the Report states:   “Any overview of children’s well-being must attempt to incorporate aspects of behaviour which are of concern to both young people themselves and to the society in which they live.   This section therefore brings together the available OECD data on such topics as obesity, substance abuse, violence, and sexual risk-taking.”

Again, the United States and the United Kingdom are at the very bottom in their total scores on these measurements.  Page 27, Figure 5.1 Overview — Children’s health behavior the United States is at the bottom.  Page 28, Figure 5.1d, the United States has the highest percentage of young people age 13 and 15 who report being overweight.    “…the EU [European Union] Health Commissioner has said:   “Today’s overweight teenagers are tomorrow’s heart attack victims”.”

“…in most countries young people’s health behaviours do not deviate very far from the average for the OECD as a whole.  The exceptions are Poland, where children’s health behaviours are considerably better than average, and the United States whose overall ranking suffers because of high levels of obesity.”

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The great majority of young people growing up in all OECD countries score themselves above the midpoint on the ‘life satisfaction ladder’.”  Fortunately, United States’ young people are among this majority (page 37).

An interesting observation in this section of the Report about student agreement with negative statements about personal well-being in regard to feeling ‘out of place’ comes from Japan (page 38):

The most striking individual result is the 30% of young people in Japan who agreed with the statement ‘I feel lonely’ – almost three times higher than the next highest-scoring country. Either this reflects a difficulty of translating the question into a different language and culture, or a problem meriting further investigation, or both.”

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From the Report Card:

The true measure of a nation’s standing is how well it attends to its children – their health and safety, their material security, their education and socialization, and their sense of being loved, valued, and included in the families and societies into which they are born.

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When we attempt to measure children’s well-being what we really seek to know is whether children are adequately clothed and housed and fed and protected, whether their circumstances are such that they are likely to become all that they are capable of becoming, or whether they are disadvantaged in ways that make it difficult or impossible for them to participate fully in the life and opportunities of the world around them.   Above all we seek to know whether children feel loved, cherished, special and supported, within the family and community, and whether the family and community are being supported in this task by public policy and resources.

All families in OECD countries today are aware that childhood is being reshaped by forces whose mainspring is not necessarily the best interests of the child.   At the same time, a wide public in the OECD countries is becoming ever more aware that many of the corrosive social problems affecting the quality of life have their genesis in the changing ecology of childhood.   Many therefore feel that it is time to attempt to re-gain a degree of understanding, control and direction over what is happening to our children in their most vital, vulnerable years.

That process begins with measurement and monitoring. And it is as a contribution to that process that the Innocenti Research Centre has published this initial attempt at a multi-dimensional overview of child well-being in the countries of the OECD.”  (page 38)

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Any part of the Innocenti Report Card may be freely reproduced using the following reference:

UNICEF, Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries, Innocenti Report Card 7

2007 UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence. © The United Nations Children’s Fund, 2007

Full text and supporting documentation can be downloaded from the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre website.

This Report Card provides a comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and young people in 21 nations of the industrialized world.   Its purpose is to encourage monitoring, to permit comparison, and to stimulate the discussion and development of policies to improve children’s lives.

The report represents a significant advance on previous titles in this series which have used income poverty as a proxy measure for overall child well-being in the OECD countries.   Specifically, it attempts to measure and compare child well-being under six different headings or dimensions: material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviours and risks, and young people’s own subjective sense of well-being.   In all, it draws upon 40 separate indicators relevant to children’s lives and children’s rights (see pages 42 to 45).

Although heavily dependent on the available data, this assessment is also guided by a concept of child well-being that is in turn guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child…. The implied definition of child well-being that permeates the report is one that will also correspond to the views and the experience of a wide public.”

* The United Kingdom and the United States find themselves in the bottom third of the rankings for five of the six dimensions reviewed  [material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviors and risks, and young people’s subjective sense of their circumstances]

* There is no obvious relationship between levels of child well-being and GDP per capita.  The Czech Republic, for example, achieves a higher overall rank for child well-being than several much wealthier countries including France, Austria, the United States and the United Kingdom

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SEE ALSO – The United States has been taking internal measurements on our nation’s children’s well-being for over 30 years.

CHILD WELL-BEING STATISTICAL REPORT, SPECIFIC TO THE UNITED STATES:

The 2009 Foundation for Child Development — Child and Youth Well-being Index (CWI) Report

Children and youth live unique lives and as such, at some point, each experiences a range of social conditions.   The Index is comprised of Key Indicators associated with different stages of the life course in the first two decades of life.

The CWI includes the following 28 Key Indicators organized into seven domains of child well-being in the United States that have been found in numerous social science studies to be related to an overall sense of subjective well-being or satisfaction with life.

Family Economic Well-Being Domain

1. Poverty Rate (All Families with Children)

2. Secure Parental Employment Rate

3. Median Annual Income (All Families with Children)

4. Rate of Children with Health Insurance

Health Domain

1. Infant Mortality Rate

2. Low Birth Weight Rate

3. Mortality Rate (Ages 1-19)

4. Rate of Children with Very Good or Excellent Health (as reported by parents)

5. Rate of Children with Activity Limitations (as reported by parents)

6. Rate of Overweight Children and Adolescents (Ages 6-19)

Safety/Behavioral Domain

1. Teenage Birth Rate (Ages 10-17)

2. Rate of Violent Crime Victimization (Ages 12-19)

3. Rate of Violent Crime Offenders (Ages 12-17)

4. Rate of Cigarette Smoking (Grade 12)

5. Rate of Binge Alcohol Drinking (Grade 12)

6. Rate of Illicit Drug Use (Grade 12)

Educational Attainment Domain

1. Reading Test Scores (Ages 9, 13, and 17)

2. Mathematics Test Scores (Ages 9, 13, and 17)

Community Connectedness

1. Rate of Persons who have Received a High School Diploma (Ages 18-24)

2. Rate of Youths Not Working and Not in School (Ages 16-19)

3. Rate of Pre-Kindergarten Enrollment (Ages 3-4)

4. Rate of Persons who have Received a Bachelor’s Degree (Ages 25-29)

5. Rate of Voting in Presidential Elections (Ages 18-20)

Social Relationships Domain

1. Rate of Children in Families Headed by a Single Parent

2. Rate of Children who have Moved within the Last Year (Ages 1-18)

Emotional/Spiritual Well-Being Domain

1. Suicide Rate (Ages 10-19)

2. Rate of Weekly Religious Attendance (Grade 12)

3. Percent who report Religion as Being Very Important (Grade 12)

Taken together, changes in the performance of these 28 Key Indicators and the seven domains into which they are grouped provide a view of the changes in the overall well-being of children and youth in American society.   Each domain represents an important area that affects well-being/quality of life: economic well-being, health, safety/behavior, educational attainment, community connectedness (participation in major social institutions), social relationships, and emotional/spiritual well-being.   The performance of the nation on each indicator also reflects the strength of America’s social institutions: its families, schools, and communities.   All of these Key Indicators either are well-being indicators that measure outcomes for children and youths or surrogate indicators of the same.

SEE ALSO:

THE CHILD AND YOUTH WELL-BEING INDEX (CWI)

Foundation for Child Development and the CWI

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Check out this article:

How Is the Economic Recession Affecting U.S. Children?

The 2009 Child Well-being Index

by Eric Zuehlke

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+EXCLUSIVE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OWNED BY SEVERE ABUSE SURVIVORS

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I received this valuable comment about my blog writing through a ‘personal channel’ yesterday:

“YOUR WRITING IS SO INTELLECTUAL THAT I AM ALMOST OVERWHELMED.  YOU DON’T CONVERSE THAT WAY, I HOPE!”

There have been times in my life when such a comment would have stopped me dead in my tracks and I would not write another single word.

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Some time back I wrote a piece where I described the one thing from all the codependency jargon that makes sense to me.  When we find ourselves feeling like we have to explain and/or defend ourselves we are in a codependent stance.

So here I am today considering taking a dose of my own medicine.  What is happening inside of me that makes me feel defensive?  How is my writing tied into my own feelings of inadequacy?  Why is important to me that I please others, that I have something of value that is useful that I can offer to others?  It seems obvious that I am comparing and contrasting myself with those outside of myself – that the operation of assessment and judgment is going on within me.

I suspect that what is both my true underlying and the overriding concern is acceptance, which is an attachment issue.  Do I feel safe and secure enough inside myself to trust that what I write about and how I write is exactly fine with me?  Can I be open to feedback and think about it constructively in terms of what I might need to change to accomplish my goals more successfully?

What might it be in my writing that is either corresponding to Grice’s maxims of rational discourse – or not?  I am really not in conversation here because my approximately 70 readers a day are silent ones.  How confident do I feel inside of myself, how competent do I feel about what I write and how?

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When communication is taking place that allows for resonance and mirroring between people (and even between people and animals) there are patterns of ‘rupture and repair’ that guide the flow of discourse.  One person sends out signals and watches for how they are accepted or rejected, and pauses for response.  Patterning within the social-emotional brain govern how our verbal interactions take place between people just as they govern how our nonverbal communication does.

Researchers have found that Grice’s maxims include an accurate enough description of appropriate patterns of verbal communication that they lie at the foundation of all adult attachment research.  These maxims mirror safe and secure social-emotional brain operations as they appear in the behavior of verbal speech.

The response I received yesterday is partly about the differences between spoken and the written communication.  It brings to mind this philosophical riddle that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality:  “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  The answer to this question is technically “No.”

I first encountered this question shortly after I finished Naval boot camp when I was 18 years old, and it fascinated me.  This was true mostly because I spent the better part of my childhood being bonded not to humans, but to the natural world surrounding me when I could escape from my mother and spend time outside on the mountainside of our Alaskan homestead.  My personal answer to this question has always been “Yes.”  I did not grow up with a social brain that put humans at the center of reality.

In the natural world all of existence is in intimate relationship with all of its members.  Everything is included.  Nothing is excluded.  Perhaps it was because I was excluded as a member of my family that being in the natural world meant so much to me.  I was included in that world and there was nothing my mother could do to change either that fact or my experience of it.

I met both of the requirements for complete acceptance and inclusion in the natural world:  (1) I was alive, and (2) I was there.  I didn’t need words.  I didn’t even need thoughts.  I simply needed to be in a body, to BE a body present WITH every possible part of life around me.  With the exception of one time, never were there any people in that natural world with me.

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On that one day, the summer after I graduated from high school but had still not reached my August 31st 18th birthday, a boy from my brother’s class (a year ahead of me) walked up the mountain to see me.  I had no idea why.  To my knowledge he had never noticed me before.  We had never spoken.  But this boy put forth a lot of effort to find me way up there on the mountain.

He did not arrive by car.  He walked.  How far I don’t know.

When this boy unexpectedly knocked on our door, I greeted him and went outside to visit.  It was a glorious mid-summer Alaskan afternoon.  The sky was that deep blue that I always called ‘postcard blue’.  There was no wind.  It was warm.  Wildflowers bloomed across the hillsides.  Tall emerald green grasses covered the fields.

Only on this day, with this boy, for the first and only time did I feel present in that natural world I loved with another person.  For perhaps two hours we walked the land.  I showed him the beauty that surrounded our home.  There was no physical contact as we sat at the top of the steep ravine that led down to the roaring tumbling creek.  After a time, this boy simply said good-bye and left.

I have never known why he came to see me, and I remain curious.  What I do know is that as soon as he was out of sight around the first bend of our road heading down the mountain, my mother attacked me like she had never done before.  You would have to imagine what it would be like to be attacked by a full grown rabid grizzly bear to begin to understand what that beating was like.  Only my mother included her words.

Up and down the length of our house she dragged, shoved, pushed and hurled me as she pounded my body and face with anything she could grab for hours.  I had seen my mother in her rages against me all of my life, but never had I seen her this angry.  I did not understand any of it.  Not that I had ever understood her attacks, but the power of this one put me into an inner state of shock it took me many years to even partially recover from.

It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I came to understand that her entire violent and vicious rage against me that afternoon had been grounded in sexual fantasies within her mind about what had gone on between myself and that boy as soon as we crossed out of sight through the tall grass over to the edge of the ravine where she could not see us.  For many years one phrase that she had screamed at me hurt me as if I had been slashed head to toe with a razor sharp butcher knife:  “You are no better than a snake in the grass!  You are not fit to be a mother!  I hope God never sees fit to give you children!”

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Now if I return to the comment at the top of this post, I would say that if I were actually facing someone in person how I would tell the story about that summer afternoon might be different than how I write it.  It is certainly not a topic that would come up in ordinary conversation.  At present I cannot imagine a time, a situation, a place or a person that I would ever tell the entire story to on the deepest level.  And this would be only one of thousands and thousands of brutally violent and violating ‘encounters’ I had with my mother from the time I was born.

When it comes to Grice’s maxims I know that it is not humanly possible to follow those rules for rational discourse when attempting to talk about, or write about, severe experiences of trauma that happened to me in my childhood.  The rules for discourse require that an order be followed through a definable pattern that makes sense to the two (or more) people that are conversing TOGETHER.

Together means that there is an empathetic resonance happening between the people engaged in conversation.  Take another look at Grice’s maxims:

Maxim of Quantity:

1. Make your contribution to the conversation as informative as necessary.
2. Do not make your contribution to the conversation more informative than necessary.
Maxim of Quality:

1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
Maxim of Relevance:

Be relevant (i.e., say things related to the current topic of the conversation).
Maxim of Manner:

1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
2. Avoid ambiguity.
3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary wordiness).
4. Be orderly.

This is NOT how I can verbalize my childhood.  Not in words, not in conversation and not in my writing.

These maxims apply to considered and considerate conversation.  It would not be considerate of me – toward me or to my readers – to delve into minute, graphic detail about the actual experiences of abuse I suffered from my mother.  To do so would overwhelm all of us – especially me!

Maybe if I only had ten or twenty or fifty or a hundred violent and violating experiences of abuse in my childhood I would have been able by now at 58 to converse ‘rationally’ with myself or with anyone else about the exact nature of those experiences.  Maybe if I had less than a thousand of them I could ‘tell the coherent story’ of my childhood.

As it is, my entire way of being in the world happens because I do not access the overwhelming memories of overwhelming childhood trauma I experienced.  I would be a fool to ever believe that these traumas can be integrated into who I am in the world in any better way than they already are.  Integrated trauma means that something useful has been learned from the experience that can facilitate a better chance of surviving a similar related trauma in the future.  The only thing to learn from the kind of terrible isolation and abuse I suffered during the 18 years my mother could hurt me was that child abuse survival has a high price, and that it SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN AT ALL.

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I have upped the ante in what I think about, talk about, and write regarding my personal history of severe infant-child abuse.  Literal detailed disclosure of the specifics on separate incidents is NOT my concern.  Understanding what happened to me as a consequence of what my mother did to me is my concern.  This understanding has to be accomplished consciously, and therefore involves an intellectual process.

My mother’s abuse of me forced my body-brain-mind-self to change and adjust its development so that the actual body-brain-mind-self I am left to live my life with and AS is NOT the same one that I would have had should the abuse never have occurred.  These changes are not minor.  They are not insignificant.  And all of the fundamental changes my body-brain-mind-self had to make are permanent on the physiological level.

Time cannot run backward.  I cannot return to being a newborn infant so that I might receive different information from my caregiving environment that would give me an entirely different body-brain-mind-self through my developmental stages.  And just as I cannot RETURN to my infant-childhood for a better chance of developing a different body in a better world, neither can I TURN to any single professional expert source or resource for the information I most need in order to understand exactly how what my mother did to me changed me, and what that means.

Neither am I going to be content with a little piece of an answer, handed to me as a toothpick that relates to a much bigger living tree of information about who and how I really am in this world.  I realize that I join the ranks of those other people who also had extremely abusive infant-childhoods.  None of us have ever really been told the truth about how profoundly our human development was changed so that we could survive what was happening to us.

We will discover this truth within our own self, and as we do so and begin to use the words that matter most to describe the changes we experienced as a result of our abuse, we will be giving birth to our own intellectual property on the topic.   This intellectual property belongs to us because we have this information inside of us.  It is who we are because it is who we had to become to survive.  We are finding new words and new ways to tell our stories about what really happened to us.

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Maybe I am on a mythological quest to find this grand tree of knowledge that will give me the answers I need.  I guarantee if it ever falls I want to be among the first to hear the sound of its falling.  I find glimpses of its existence in the direction much seemingly unrelated research is going, and in its findings.  I had intended to present two specific examples in today’s post, but I have run out of………..

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+LEARNING STYLES AND LONELINESS

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People have differing styles of learning about themselves in the world which are no doubt influenced by our earliest experiences.  I present a link today to a very simple ‘test’ that will show you clearly what your own individual preferences for processing yourself in the world are.  This information comes to us ‘free and easy’ from the engineering department of North Carolina State University.  I found their website today that presents extremely clear and concise information about the four main styles of learning:

INDEX OF LEARNING STYLES (ILS)

It contains a link to the  ILS questionnaire.   Click on this link and complete the 44-item questionnaire that can be submitted and automatically — and instantly — scored on the Web.  This is an ‘older person’s’ version for determining learning styles – just right for us!

Many people believe (myself included) that if our public educational system bothered to do a version of this simple assessment for students, and then bothered to tailor instruction for students according to the learning styles that are most a part of their individual nature, the current miserable state of education among our youth would not exist as it does.  Our learning styles continue to influence how we process ourselves in the world for the rest of our lives.

I hope you will take a few moments to take this test for yourself before you read the rest of this post because I think our first response to the questions will be more on target if we don’t think too much about them ahead of time.  I would recommend going through this experience from your ‘gut’ (body) rather than from your ‘head’ (second-guessing) so that you can better ALLOW your responses to come naturally rather than force them.

After you complete the 44-item questionnaire, your results will appear immediately as soon as you submit them.  You will see a continuum between the extreme ends of all four main learning styles.  Your result will show an ‘X’ above some point on each of these four lines.  THEN click on LEARNING STYLES AND STRATEGIES for the description of what each of these four styles are.  (This link is also at the bottom of your ‘results’ page.)

If you are the type of learner who wants as much information as possible BEFORE you attempt any unfamiliar task, this link (above) will give you an explanation related to the results as it describes the ‘playing field’!

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How did your scores come out on the continuums between these four dimensions of learning styles?

These are my scores::

—  ‘1’ toward the ‘reflective’ end on ‘active-reflective

— ‘11’ toward the ‘intuitive’ end on ‘sensing-intuitive

— ‘9’ toward the ‘visual’ end on ‘visual-verbal

— ‘9’ toward the ‘global’ end on ‘sequential-global

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I believe that where we find ourselves on this MAP shows us how we are in the world, period.  Our learning style shows us how we pay attention, how we perceive, how we process, how we order and orient ourselves in the world.

Here, as with everything else about how I am in the world, I have to consider the impact that severe ongoing early trauma and abuse had on me as my body-brain-mind-self developed in the world through Trauma Altered Development.

How did the trauma of my childhood affect and influence the development of my learning style for me?  I see that I am very nearly at the extreme ends on three of the four continuums.  Only on the ‘active-reflective’ scale do I lie within a middle, more balanced range.

I can more clearly NAME and understand my own writing process when I think in terms of my position on these four scales.  I intuit my writing, I visualize from within myself (really by a sort of sensing and feeling from within my body) what ‘wants’ to be said, and the whole process operates in a globalized fashion where the end result becomes a ‘whole’ rather than a collection of parts that can be rearranged, reordered or restructured.

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For example, my thinking about how things end up being connected to one another makes more sense when I can simply allow my own individual style to shine.

As I have been thinking about my Christmas Eve post +TRAGEDIES OF CHILD ABUSE REFLECTED IN STORIES, I realize that my ‘cup runneth over’ with thoughts than seem disconnected (dissociated)  from the theme of the post.  Yet I know they are related and are connected (associated) in some way or I wouldn’t have them all tumbling around inside of me.

So, what is my inner logic?  What is the pattern and what are the connections?  I won’t begin to know until I write them down!

First of all, to own for myself the truth of what I wrote in this December 24th post I have to accept that my brain did not form in an optimal way through safe and secure attachment – obviously – or I would not have had the experience as a child in relation to the story-movie I wrote about.

In-tune reflection, empathy and mirroring between an infant as it grows its brain and its earliest mothering caregiver are meant to build a social-emotional brain that is built with patterns of human familiarity and connectedness.  The infant is supposed to see its own emotion-states-self mirrored back to it by its mothering caregiver.  As this happens, the infant is learning about patterns of harmonious similarity between itself and the human world it has been born into as these patterns both build the brain and build themselves into it.

At the same time patterns of how the infant is a separate DIFFERENT individual get harmoniously built into the early forming foundation of the infant’s social-emotional brain at the same time it is learning about similarities.  Ideally patterns of ASSOCIATION (similarities – “WE are socially human.”) form the foundation of the social-emotional brain rather than patterns of DISSOCIATION (“Gee, I have no idea what’s going on, or who is who, or what in the UNIVERSE is happening here!”)

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The first scenario happens through safe and secure attachment in a benevolent world.  The infant has repeated experiences of being shown that there is a WE that is made up of two separate people.  The self of the infant is growing in relationship to the self of the caregiver.

The second scenario happens in a malevolent environment where trauma is present.  Trauma is trauma because it is not ordinary or normal, and because it interrupts the ongoing experience of being safely and securely attached in the world.  If trauma is not resolved, and continues to place itself at the center of infant-mothering caregiver interactions (in all kinds of miserable ways), the infant will not be able to either clearly see the OTHER or be able to form its own self in relationship to this scrambled and scrambling messed up maybe-other.

The main relationship then ends up being to the ongoing TRAUMA rather than being a relationship between two benevolent entities in a benevolent world.

Voila!  Enter here a connection to my December 24th post.  What amazes me most is that I survived my severely traumatic childhood being able to function in anything like a human way!!  Making point one:  My version of being human is NOT normal!

If my first truly social-human experience of feeling myself mirrored back to myself happened the way I describe in my December 24th post, there is no possible way that I can feel – and here comes point number two – connected within myself to other people in anything like a normal way.

Oh – I am going to pause here and say something about use of the word NORMAL.  I have avoided this word, but my professional statistician daughter assures me that it is a fallacy to ever think that normal is not real.  Take a look at any Bell Curve.  Think about these images.  NORMAL is there in the middle, and pretending it isn’t is a childhood magical thinking stage illusion!  Normal exists, and it IS measurable once we define what we are talking about.

So, normal.  Oh, yes.  I experienced Trauma Altered Development and I am not normal.  Normal for members of a social species like ours has to do with comfort level that is connected to our experience of well-being – being well as a safely and securely attached member of our species.

What is my own experience of being an evolutionarily changed, adapted to trauma since my early social-emotional brain formed human?

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I am alone.  That is what happens within a traumatized infant-child’s brain in an unsafe and insecure, violent, chaotic, unstable, unpredictable malevolent early brain forming world.  Patterns of overwhelming isolation and DISSOCIATIONS built my brain.  My brain did not form within itself patterns of associations and similarities between myself and others.

If we go back to the foundational brain-building facts of Dr. Allen Schore’s most important 60-page article about infant early development, we can see how things are normally supposed to work between an infant and its mothering caregiver as its social-emotional brain is being built – from the beginning.  My brain did not get built normally.  I am a trauma altered person.

My growing brain could invent nothing outside of the experiences I had that built it.  I had very limited exposure from my birth to anyone besides my mother.  She designed my environment.  She controlled it.  In the beginning, most fortunately, she did not ban my 14-month-older brother from having contact with me.  It was those experiences that my earliest forming infant brain had with a human being – my little brother who loved me as much as it is possible for a human being to love another person – that I believe most saved my life.

Without those early human interactional face-to-face mirroring interactions with my baby brother, my growing brain would not have formed hardly ANY human connection circuits, pathways and patterns into my brain.  As I continued to grow from being an infant into a toddler, my mother began to interfere with and prevent contact even between me and my brother in the same ways she prevented my contact with my father, grandmother and other children.

But while the early interactions I had with my brother probably saved my life, they were NOT enough to save me from Trauma Altered Development.  My brain formed itself with human beings on one side of an impenetrable wall, and what self I could manage to form on the other side.

That means I was formed ALONE, disconnected and dissociated from the experience of being WITH other humans in the world.  That fundamental fact is what my December 24th post is ultimately about.

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My brain formed in isolation.  Isolation is NOT a GOOD condition for humans or any other mammal to form within.  I believe my Trauma Altered Development contributed to the fact that how my self is in the world lies on the extreme ends of three of the four learning style spectrums presented at the beginning of the post.  In my intuitive, visual, global way of knowing things, I KNOW that how my social-emotional early-formed brain developed itself is so far outside the Bell Curve range of normal that it is far closer to one shared on a continuum with autistic people.

I do not anticipate ever being able to find a so-called ‘mental health’ professional who would agree with me.  But I KNOW what I KNOW, and I am right.  I am my own living proof that I know what I am talking about.

It enrages me that I was forced to form a social-emotional brain that does not contain within it normal patterns of being a social human being.  I was BORN with full potential to have a normal brain.  I was FORCED through abuse and trauma to grow a different one.

Another thing that enrages me is that nobody ever told me – ever HAS told me about the facts regarding how my social-emotional brain formed differently from normal.  Luckily ‘they’ did the research, I found it, and now I DO understand what happened to me to give me this unending inner feeling of being not just lonely in any normal sense of the word – but fundamentally isolated and alone – within the very fabric of my body-brain-mind-self’s molecular construction.

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I write this post today for all readers who suffered extreme early trauma and abuse and who suffered from Trauma Altered Development as a consequence.

If you picture Michelangelo’s image of God giving life to Adam painted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and imagine the space between the finger tips as a visual presentation of a gap that cannot ever be bridged between an individual self and the world of other people, others of you without Trauma Altered Development might begin to get a sense of what our kind of isolation, aloneness and loneliness is like.

I believe that a person with a social-emotional brain built through mostly safe and secure early attachment experiences can FEEL connected to others which bridges this gap.  The gap that is supposed to exist between people is supposed to be closed through this ‘feeling felt’ experience.  This gap is only supposed to exist between human beings on the most central levels of selfhood where the boundaries that allow for selfhood itself to exist are not meant to be crossed.

On all other levels people are supposed to have early brains formed that can so communicate with one another between selves through empathic reflective mirroring — that happens in their normally formed social-emotional brain — that they have a choice about being connected to others of their species that the rest of us will never have (including people on the Autistic spectrum).

I am no longer remotely concerned with couching the reality of my state of being in any kind of terms that might make other normally developed social-emotional brained people feel comfortable.  I am different from most human beings, and now I know it – along with the why, how and what of it.  I am not ‘disordered, dysfunctional, blah, blah, blah’ either.  I am different.

I was left isolated and alone with a brutal monster of a mother who did not want me to be alive.  How she treated me – along with the absence of anyone else in my life who gave a damn – gave me a nonsocial emotionally altered body-brain-mind-self.  None of these changes happened as a result of my choice.

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I attended a community Christmas dinner yesterday.  Now that I know HOW I feel being a human in relationship to other humans, I can understand and accept that at no time in my life have I EVER, nor do I hope to in the future to EVER, feel connected to or with them.

I now know I am specifically skilled at pretending to be ‘one of them’.  I can watch them and interpret their actions.  I can mimic these communications in return.  I have a human body, so I look like other people.  But I know the differences between us now, and because I do I also know more and more about how my own feelings inside of myself stem from this fundamental disconnection (dissociation) between myself and other people that exists at the foundation of my long ago formed right social-emotional brain.

I might as well be on the other side of a glass wall forming a barrier between myself and others that can never be removed.

I cannot imagine a greater loss in life than is the loss of any ability to truly FEEL connected – through the circuitry of our brain – to others of our species.

When I write about child abuse, when I speak about the abridgment of fundamental universal human rights of children, when I talk about the consequences of maltreatment in infant-childhood that CAUSES Trauma Altered Development, I am talking about the crime of allowing human beings to be formed in the world so absolutely, fundamentally, essentially ALONE in a dangerous world that their brains are prevented from forming the beginning circuitry that would allow human connection to take place.

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About three years ago I accidentally discovered information that came about through an offshoot of primate brain research that was accomplished through surgical alteration of the victim brains.  I cannot locate my source, and will be very happy when I can.

The gist of it is that at some primate brain study facility that had a very large and ‘nice’ compound for the subject-victims to live in, a discovery was made in a surprising way.  All the primates in the compound had enough space and enough food, etc. so that their social patterns happened most certainly according to the following:

Researchers discovered that the primates bonded to one another and formed their social groups exactly and specifically according to which area of their brain had been tampered with, damaged and changed.  The victims of brain region alteration found one another based only on the similarity of changes caused by what had been done to them.  Each group was self sustaining and had no interaction with any other group who had suffered from damage to any different part of their brain.

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When I talk about having a changed social-emotional brain due to Trauma Altered Development, I am talking about every one of us who survived our terrible childhoods because of these changes knowing on an intuitive, global and visual level – which includes ALL of the information we KNOW from within our entire body-brain-self – that we are lost in a world where we cannot find one another in the way that these (really) trauma-changed-brain primates could.

When we feel lonely, when we feel isolated and alone, when we feel ‘alien’ and ‘different’ from mainstream normal others – it’s because we are.  If nonhuman primates can figure this out, it’s certainly time that the humans did.

I am tempted to say that we DO find one another – in prisons, on the streets, in battered spouse centers, in poverty, ‘mental health’ centers, etc.  While I DO believe this is true, there’s far more to the story.  Most of us find ourselves among people who did not suffer developmental early social-emotional brain changes.  We then additionally suffer from all kinds of mismatches between our experience of being alive and theirs.

We need to validate what we KNOW and how we KNOW it so that we can fully celebrate who we are.  We need to understand HOW and WHAT happened to us – on our most basic, fundamental, essential levels.  We need to know how to live better lives in spite of the changes that happened to us, and I will never be able to say this enough:  We need to HONOR who we are and how we are in the world.  (And we must remember that changes to our early growing social-emotional brain happened according to degrees of early deprivation-trauma we experienced.)

So — THIS is what I wanted to write about today.  Now that I wrote it – I know it – and so do you.  Those brain-changed primates evidently can easily tell how they are different – so they can be different together.  As members of another social species, it is time humans understand this same fact.

If we don’t like the fact that some people end up with a trauma-changed social-emotional brain, we need to  – STOP CHILD ABUSE NOW!  STOP TRANSMITTING UNRESOLVED TRAUMA DOWN THE GENERATIONS NOW!  STOP THE STORM NOW!

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Don’t forget to check out — Brain Facts – A primer on the brain and nervous system

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+CALM THE CRYING BABY — IMMUNE SYSTEM STIMULATES VAGUS NERVE TRAUMA ALTERED DEVELOPMENT

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I have been in HOT pursuit of an idea all day.  This thought has lingered inside of me for 4 years in a ‘body knowing’ place because of what I know as a survivor of severe abuse and malevolent treatment from birth until I left home at 18.

In order for this idea to be given form I need to link it to other people’s related thoughts, and many of these ideas are only recently appearing as science races into a new place of truth about what it means to be a human — and how we develop in interaction with our environment from out conception.

I am not a scientist.  Even if I come up with a theory, and develop an hypothesis, I cannot create or perform research to either prove or disprove my ideas.  So, I have to use the interactive thinking the web provides and see what I can come up with.

And I found something very exciting – but I could not find it until I included the words ‘fish’ and ‘evolution’ into my search on the ‘vagus nerve’ and ‘the immune response’.

It has been my thinking that there has to be a point within the body — and within the body of a developing infant-child exactly ‘where the fire meets the gunpowder’.  A tiny person is powerless to stop trauma that happens to it from outside of its body.  It is therefore forced to try to stop the trauma ON ITS INSIDES.

This STOP action is the job of the vagus nerve as it controls the parasympathetic STOP arm of our Autonomic Nervous System and interacts with our immune system.  Right at this point where the developing body has to try to STOP the force of the impact of trauma ON ITS INSIDES is where Trauma Altered Development is forced to kick in.

It is RIGHT here, at this present moment in time where I cannot think into the future and must patiently await for science to confirm what I know is true – that RIGHT here where the fire meets the gunpowder, where a developing infant-child has to adapt within a malevolent environment and alter who it is becoming that EPIGENTIC forces that interfere with normal development by altering the immune system-vagus nerve-Autonomic Nervous System and brain interactions in preparation for survival within a toxic, malevolent unsafe and insecure attachment environment come into play.  The research proving this point is coming, but it is not entirely here yet.

This, I believe, is where and how what Dr. Martin Teicher calls evolutionarily altered development happens.  When a tiny growing body cannot STOP the ongoing affects of trauma happening to it from outside its body, the STOPPING happens on the inside.

This form of Stop the Storm of the impact of trauma — within a developing little body — causes things to happen like what happened to change my mother into the monster she became.  She could not afford to experience the suffering deprivation-trauma caused her so her body found a way to STOP it.

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My idea goes back to the very beginnings of how severe abuse and neglect in a malevolent environment force a newborn to begin to alter its development in adaptation to the deprivation-traumas that surround and impact it.

Thinking about how a tiny little body has so much work to do to grow its Central Nervous System including its brain, and about how its Autonomic Nervous System is able to at least control its heart rate and breathing from birth, knowing that an infant’s immune system is already in operation, I think about how all these developing processes interconnect.

I believe that it is the job of the immune system to protect and defend us within our environment.  I therefore suspect that it is our immune system that responds to the toxins in our environment – and if our earliest caregivers actually maltreat us and are themselves toxins in our early world, then our immune system must respond accordingly.

In this response to threat, to trauma, all our development is changed.  I suspect that there is an intersection within us where our immune system affects our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).  The vagus nerves are intimately connected with the parasympathetic STOP arm of our ANS.  (I have collected pages of information and active links today on the subject.)

I think about how development altered through trauma ends up often making people into such changed people that their lives become very difficult in adulthood, both for themselves and for those around them.  I think about my mother’s birthday post I wrote for her last night, and I think about how compassionate would be the opposite of the way she turned out.

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I have spent the best part of this day searching for information I read online a few years back about how information transmitted through the vagus nerve reaches male brains differently than it does female’s.  I remember reading that men receive the information from one branch of the nerve – the left one – only while women receive information into both sides of their brains through both branches of the vagus nerve at the same time.

I combed through every gender and the brain link I presented last Sunday, and found nothing about this!  So I have been on the hunt, in pursuit, ever since.

I just found a fascinating article connecting the vagus nerve to compassion—something that my mother, through her trauma altered early development, did not grow up to possess – compassion.  Something about her adaptation to early deprivation and trauma changed her – and eliminated the possibility of having this experience from her for the rest of her life.

This article 9referenced below) follows exactly my line of expanding thought about how early trauma interacts with our immune system, our developing brain, and impacts our Autonomic Nervous System’s development.  It seems very probable to me that the evolutionarily altered person Dr. Martin Teicher describes due to developmental changes through early exposure to trauma experiences changes related to what this article is describing.

Compassion at the Core of Social Work: A – Florida State University

This article by Dan Orzech contains the following:

THE SEAT OF COMPASSION:

THE VAGUS NERVE?

 

“… Dacher Keltner, PhD, believes that the seat of compassion may just lie somewhere else: the vagus nerve. Keltner is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and coeditor of Greater Good, a magazine about prosocial behavior such as compassion and forgiveness. For the past several years, he has been examining the novel hypothesis that the vagus nervea bundle of nerves that emerges out of the brain stem and wanders throughout the body, connecting to the lungs, heart, and digestive system, among other areas-is related to prosocial behavior such as caring for others and connecting with other people.

The vagus nerve is considered part of the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. That means it’s involved in relaxation and calming the body down-the opposite of the “fight or flight” arousal for which the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is responsible. Medicine has traditionally focused on the vagus nerve’s role in controlling things such as breathing, heart rate, kidney function, and digestion. But researchers lately have experimented with stimulating the vagus nerve to treat epilepsy as well as drug-resistant cases of clinical depression (see sidebar).

Keltner has been exploring the idea that the vagus nerve-which is unique to mammals-is part of an attachment response. Mammals, he says, “attach to their offspring, and the vagus nerve helps us do that.” Researchers have already found that children with high levels of vagal activity are more resilient, can better handle stress, and get along better with peers than children with lower vagal tone.

In his laboratory; Keltner has found that the level of activity in peoples vagus nerve correlates with how warm and friendly they are to other people. Interestingly it also correlates with how likely they are to report having had a spiritual experience during a six-month follow-up period. And, says Keltner, vagal tone is correlated with how much compassion people feel when they’re presented with slides showing people in distress, such as starving children or people who are wincing or showing a facial expression of suffering. Among other things, Keltner is interested in the implications of these findings for human evolution. “Much of the scientific research so far on emotions,” he says, “has focused on negative emotions like anger, fear, or disgust”-what Keltner calls the “fight or flight” emotions. “We tend to assume,” says Keltner, “that evolution produced just these fight/flight tendencies, but it may have also produced a biologically based tendency to be good to other people and to sacrifice self-interest.

Evolutionary thought is increasingly arising at the position that the defining characteristic of human evolution is our sociality We are constantly cooperating, constantly doing things in interdependent fashion, and constantly embedded in relationships. From an evolutionary perspective, that suggests that we should have a set of emotions that help us do that work.”

MORE:

WATCH THIS VIDEO – HE SAYS WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR – THE VAGUS NERVE CONTROLS OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM!!  I believe that it is here that an abused developing infant-child experiences the start of its Trauma Altered Development.

 

Dacher Keltner in Conversation

43 min – Feb 5, 2009
Why have we evolved positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe and compassion? Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley
fora.tv/2009/02/05/Dacher_Keltner_in_Conversation

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HIS BOOK:

Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life by Dacher Keltner

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The Evolution of Compassion

Dacher Keltner

University of California, Berkeley

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Dacher Keltner
Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University

Campus Contact Information
Departmental Area(s): Social/Personality; Change, Plasticity &
Development;
Director: Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory

Interests: Social/Personality: emotion; social interaction; individual
differences in emotion; conflict and negotiation; culture

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Well, this is enough thinking and research for one day!  I am not going on to read the following today!!  It has just always made perfect sense to me that something in a traumatized tiny developing body causes its immune system to respond – and triggers the vast array of changes that we see in severe infant-child abuse survivors.  I believe the answer lies along this track.

What happens to an infant’s physiological development when no one calms the crying baby?

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PARENTS HIT AND TERRIFY THE BABY?  Immune systems changes to development through interaction with the vagus nerve, that’s what.

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Vagal activity, early growth and emotional development – Elsevier

by T Field – 2008 – Cited by 1Related articles
The vagus nerve is a key component in the regulation of the autonomic nervous system and Infant growth and development. Several studies have documented a ….. including the hypothalamic-pituitary–adrenal axis and the immune system

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Parental Meta-Emotion Philosophy and the Emotional Life of …

by JM Gottman – 1996 – Cited by 228Related articlesAll 5 versions
nerve. The tonic firing of the vagus nerve slows down many physiological processes, such as the …. a central part of the immune system that is …..

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Calm Sleeping Baby – Baby Massage

Relaxation and enhancement of neurological development. Massage provides both stimulation and relaxation for an infant, Massage stimulates a nerve in the brain, known as the vagus nerve. Strengthens the immune system. Massage causes a significant increase is Natural Killer Cell numbers.

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Tears – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Strong emotions, such as sorrow or elation, may lead to crying. lysozyme) fight against bacterial infection as a part of the immune system. A newborn infant has insufficient development of nervous control, so s/he “cries without weeping. of the facial nerve causes sufferers to shed tears while eating.

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TOUCH IN LABOR AND INFANCY: Clinical Implications

Increases in infants’ vagal activity during massage may lead to an increase As noted earlier, massage has been shown to increase activity of the vagus nerve, As in animal studies, massage has shown immunesystem benefits in humans. autonomic nervous system; a disturbance in the development of sleep-wake

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INFANT IN PAIN

Oct 29, 2009 Does your infant suffer from colic? Reflux? Projectile Vomiting? In her book, Molecules of Emotion,8 Dr Candice Pert (a recognized system interference are a hindrance to normal immune system function. Scientists are still discovering exactly how the immune and nerve systems interrelate.

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[PDF] Emotion

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML
vagus nerve— a branch of the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system — may be involved in positive …. New research on the immune system suggests a biological …… Handbook of infant development

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[PDF] Phylogenetic origins of affective experiences: The neural …

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
by SW Porges – Cited by 3Related articlesAll 3 versions
The healing power of emotion: Affective neuroscience, development ….. how the autonomic nervous system interacts with the immune system, nervous system. The vagus nerve exits the brain stem and has branches …… Porges SW, Doussard-Roosevelt JA, Portales AL, and Greenspan SI (1996) Infant regulation of the

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Evolution and Emotions

File Format: Microsoft Powerpoint – View as HTML
Neurological Development and the Limbic System. R-Hemi has closer connections to limbic system than L-Hemi. R-Hemi develops earlier in infancy than L-Hemi. Emotions appear in Stim vagus nerve, slows Heart 1 (H1). ….Effectiveness of the immune system; ability to ward off illness,

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The Brain and the Neuro-psycho-immune System – Anne Baring’s Website

When Cannon stimulated the vagus through electrodes implanted in the …. Emotions are in the digestive system, in the immune system, The nervous system consists of the brain and network of nerve cells We remember most the most vivid memories – this was probably of great help in evolutionary development,

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Vagus Nerve Is Direct Link From Brain To Immune System

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Deep Brain Stimulation … – Blogs – Revolution Health

which explains how the brain and the immune system are interconnected through the vagus nerve. “It turns out that the brain talks directly to the immune

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How the Dalai Lama can help you live to 120… « Terryorisms

Oct 5, 2006 … it is the way the immune system responds to the mind. Let me explain. You immune system is controlled by a nerve call the vagus nerve

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The Dana Foundation – Seeking the cause of deadly inflammation ….

May 3, 2007 And the vagus nerve story is progressing on multiple fronts, for device development, for understanding classical physiology, meditation, “Look, everybody knows that meditation is good for your immune system.

 

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Breakthrough “Neuro Nutrition” Targets the Brain and Vagus Nerve

Jul 6, 2008 … The Vagus Nerve is the body’s most powerful anti-inflammatory … the Vagus Nerve, has a direct ability to restore the human immune system

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NSLIJ – Scientists Figure Out How the Immune System and Brain …

When they stimulated the vagus nerve, a long nerve that goes from the base of Many laboratories at The Feinstein Institute study the immune system in

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Cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway – Wikipedia, the free …

Kevin Tracey found that the vagus nerve provides the immune system with a direct connection to the brain. Tracey’s paper in the December 2002 issue of

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The vagus nerve, cytokines and depression

The vagus nerve mediates behavioural depression, but not fever, in response to peripheral immune The immune system, depression and antidepressants

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Article: Scientists figure out how the immune system and brain ….

Jul 21, 2008 Scientists figure out how the immune system and brain communicate When they stimulated the vagus nerve, a long nerve that goes from the ……..In a major step in understanding how the nervous system and the immune system Pain & Central Nervous System

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Brain ‘talks’ directly to body’s immune system – The Hindustan …

Brain ‘talks’ directly to body’s immune system – Report from the Asian News Pain & Central Nervous System Week, Vagus Nerve Stimulation Can Suppress

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FASCINATING IDEAS HERE — DOES THE VAGUS NERVE HELP ORGANIZE CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE SELF?

[PDF] Does vagus nerve constitute a self-organization complexity or a …

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
by B Mravec – 2006 – Cited by 3Related articles
nervous system modulates immune functions via vagus nerve (5, 6). from the immune system to the brain via the vagus nerve

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[PDF] Evidences for vagus nerve in maintenance of immune balance and …

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Brain ‘talks’ directly to body’s immune system

post: Nov 14, 2007

He discovered that the vagus nerve speaks directly to the immune system through a neurochemical called acetylcholine.

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Vagus Nerve Schwannoma: effects on internal organs?

I just gave a talk the vagus nerve and the immune system–the vagus nerve > probably plays a very important role in many important chemoregulatory

 

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BiomedExperts: The vagus nerve mediates behavioural depression ….

We propose that behavioural depression is mediated by the vagus nerve indicate that the recently proposed vagal link between the immune system and the

 

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MY MOTHER’S DREAM – March 29, 1960
The whole family was out walking and suddenly we looked up to see a dark rainbow appear – then it got bright and behind it a skyline appeared outlining massive dormed buildings such as I’ve never seen and skyscraper buildings – then it all disappeared and a big wind came.

We realized it was a hurricane. We could hardly stand up against the wind. We saw big apartment buildings on the sides of the streets but the entrances faced another street and we were on the wrong side. The wind grew stronger – finally a door appeared and we went in the building and the person asked us what was wrong? We told her of the great wind but as we pointed outside – all was silent and the wind was gone … and I awoke.

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Stop the Storm of the intergenerational transmission of unresolved trauma carried on through the maltreatment of little infant-children.  If we don’t do this, changes in development will continue to rob these children of their own life free from Trauma Altered Development.

If we don’t stop the trauma from happening on the outside, the tiny developing body will do everything in its power to stop its affects on the inside.  This is what happened to my mother.

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Don’t forget to check out — Brain Facts – A primer on the brain and nervous system

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+DEGREES-OF-WELL-BEING IS ABOUT SOCIAL HEALTH, NOT “MENTAL” OR “BEHAVIORAL”

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At the same time that I do not personally like the use of the words either ‘mental’ or ‘behavioral’ health in regard to the well-being of humans, I cannot fight the world on this point, but I sure can examine what is meant by the words themselves.  The human ‘mind’ is a nebulous, invisible, intangible nonexistent physical entity.  It is not a THING we can detect through our ordinary senses.  We are always forced to follow some magical ‘this is subjective but we’ll all pretend it isn’t” course in our thinking about the concept of MIND.

Dr. Daniel J. Siegel’s work and writings talk about how humans both develop a mind and the ability to have what he calls ‘Mind Sight’.   Siegel serves as the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational organization that focuses on how the development of insight, compassion and empathy in individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes.  His work accurately describes how the mind does not exist separately from the physiological body that comes to manifest it.

If we are going to continue to use the term ‘mental health’ it must be done within the context that Siegel presents.  ‘Behavioral health’ must also be firmly anchored into an accurate understanding that behavior, just like ‘mind’, stems from physiological processes within a person’s body and is completely open for subjective interpretation.

By using either one of these terms on a grand scale, either ‘mental health’ or ‘behavioral health’,  we are pretending that we are talking about a THING.  A thing is an object.  Humans are not objects.  We are living beings who exist in relationship with our environment, within our own body and to everyone and everything around us.  To try to define our well-being in the world in terms of our mind or our behavior as if they are separate THINGS that have nothing to do with our physiological body is STUPID!

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We CAN talk about human well-being at every stage of our existence from conception until death.  Before I would trust any individual national, state, regional, local or individual opinion on any topic of human health, I would want to know what our global ‘best of the best’ have to say about it.

The World Health Organization’s website has a page devoted to Mental Health, where they say:

Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

The World Health Organization defines some specifics about “the early signs of mental disorders”:

A mental or behavioural disorder is characterized by a disturbance in thinking, mood, or behaviour, which is out of keeping with cultural beliefs and norms. In most cases the symptoms are associated with distress and interference with personal functions.

Mental disorders produce symptoms that sufferers or those close to them notice. These may include:

  • physical symptoms (e.g. aches and sleep disturbance)
  • emotional symptoms (e.g. feeling sad, scared, or anxious)
  • cognitive symptoms (e.g. difficulty thinking clearly, abnormal beliefs, memory disturbance)
  • behavioural symptoms (e.g. behaving in an aggressive manner, inability to perform routine daily functions, excessive use of substances)
  • perceptual symptoms (e.g. seeing or hearing things that others cannot)

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Well, I am getting nowhere here, so I am going back to look at the origins of the word ‘mind’ itself.  Interestingly, I have to continue to search for the actual date this word came into our modern English language.  My hard-copy dictionary gives the date as being before the 12th century.:

Main Entry: 1mind

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English gemynd; akin to Old High German gimunt memory, Latin ment-, mens mind, monEre to remind, warn, Greek menos spirit, mnasthai, mimnEskesthai to remember

1 : RECOLLECTION, MEMORY <keep that in mind> <time out of mind>
2 a : the element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons b : the conscious mental events and capabilities in an organism c : the organized conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism
3 : INTENTION, DESIRE <I changed my mind>
4 : the normal or healthy condition of the mental faculties
5 : OPINION, VIEW
6 : DISPOSITION, MOOD
7 a : a person or group embodying mental qualities <the public mind> b : intellectual ability
8 capitalized, Christian Science : GOD 1b
9 : a conscious substratum or factor in the universe
10 : ATTENTION <pay him no mind>

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Very interesting origins!  I looked up the word “mental” and found:

Main Entry: 1men·tal

Function: adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin mentalis, from Latin ment-, mens mind — more at mind

Date: 15th century

1 a : of or relating to the mind; specifically : of or relating to the total emotional and intellectual response of an individual to external reality <mental health> b : of or relating to intellectual as contrasted with emotional activity c : of, relating to, or being intellectual as contrasted with overt physical activity d : occurring or experienced in the mind : inner <mental anguish> e : relating to the mind, its activity, or its products as an object of study : ideological f : relating to spirit or idea as opposed to matter
2 a (1) : of, relating to, or affected by a psychiatric disorder <a mental patient> (2) : mentally disordered : mad, crazy b : intended for the care or treatment of persons affected by psychiatric disorders <mental hospitals>
3 : of or relating to telepathic or mind-reading powers

Ah!  Here again, as with the word ‘symptom’ (see post on topic here) , we have a Renaissance-origin word:  ‘Mental’ as an adjective.

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It becomes immediately clear to me as soon as I try to discover the roots of human thinking behind a term like ‘mental health’ that we are evidently not willing to talk about what we are really talking about!

When the invisible unreal entity of MIND is considered independently from the human body that both HAS a mind and experiences life WITH this mind, what we are really talking about – as we can see from our consideration of the meaning of ‘mind’ and ‘mental’ in relationship to their origins —  is HOW A PERSON’S  SPIRIT REMEMBERS ITSELF in the world.

(If the treatment a developing infant receives from its mother is unsafe and insecure, that treatment is a warning to the infant that adjustments need to be made in order to survive within a malevolent world.  A mother’s treatment of her offspring ‘reminds’ it of the conditions of the environment.  All human ‘remembering’ (including how our DNA manifests itself) happens from conception within this framework.  Because we are a social species, all our ‘remembering’ happens through the body-brain we developed primarily before the age of one.)

No matter what the Renaissance thinkers intended as they began to talk about ‘mind’ and ‘mental’ the reality is that no consideration of mind is actually remotely scientific!  Just by making up a meaning and attaching it to a made-up word DOES NOT MAKE SOMETHING into a real, tangible THING.

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Are we really talking about something no less tangible than what one of my favorite words describes?

Main Entry: al·che·my

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English alkamie, alquemie, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French alkimie, from Medieval Latin alchymia, from Arabic al-kīmiyā’, from al the + kīmiyā’ alchemy, from Late Greek chēmeia

Date: 14th century

1 : a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life
2 : a power or process of transforming something common into something special
3 : an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting

al·chem·i·cal \-mi-kəl\ also al·chem·ic \al-ˈke-mik\ adjective

al·chem·i·cal·ly \-mi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

There it is:  “an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting.”  We have transmuted the invisible process of how and who a human being is in the world into a tangible THING, giving the words ‘mind’ and ‘mental’ meaning AS IF we are talking about something REAL and tangible rather than something UNREAL and intangible.

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What happens if I turn my considerations toward ‘behavioral health’ instead of ‘mental health’?  Hummmmm – this search also is leading me toward the obvious – yet another Renaissance word:

Main Entry: be·have

Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): be·haved; be·hav·ing

Etymology: Middle English behaven, from be- + haven to have, hold

Date: 15th century

transitive verb 1 : to manage the actions of (oneself) in a particular way
2 : to conduct (oneself) in a proper mannerintransitive verb 1 : to act, function, or react in a particular way
2 : to conduct oneself properly

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If I make a gigantic leap and connect “to conduct oneself properly” in relationship to ‘behavioral health’ back through ‘mind’ as being a ‘remembering of the spirit’, and return full circle to the beginning of the post, I find in the World Health Organization’s discussion about the ‘symptoms’ of ‘mental illness’ and ‘mental disorders’ that they clearly present this qualifying statement:

A mental or behavioural disorder is characterized by a disturbance in thinking, mood, or behaviour, which is out of keeping with cultural beliefs and norms”

In other words, it is impossible to even begin to think even about ‘disorder’ itself, in relation to either a so-called ‘mental’ or a ‘behavioral’ one without first defining what any particular culture’s ‘beliefs and norms’ are.

Any consideration of ‘disorder’ has to be done within a consideration of the established social-cultural patterns of what’s considered to be ‘order’.  Disorder is itself another Renaissance word:

Main Entry: 1dis·or·der

Function: transitive verb

Date: 15th century

1 : to disturb the order of
2 : to disturb the regular or normal functions of

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Even if I try to place the IDEA of disorder within the larger context of what ORDER might mean, I find myself looking at an English word that is connected not in our history of Renaissance-period thinking, but to our Medieval-period, or Middle Age Millennium of thinking:

Main Entry: 1or·der

Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): or·dered; or·der·ing \ˈȯr-d(ə-)riŋ\

Etymology: Middle English, from ordre, noun

Date: 13th century

transitive verb 1 : to put in order : arrange
2 a : to give an order to : command b : destine, ordain <so ordered by the gods> c : to command to go or come to a specified place <ordered back to the base> d : to give an order for <order a meal>intransitive verb 1 : to bring about order : regulate
2 a : to issue orders : command b : to give or place an order

OR AS A NOUN:

Main Entry: 2order

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French ordre, from Medieval Latin & Latin; Medieval Latin ordin-, ordo ecclesiastical order, from Latin, arrangement, group, class; akin to Latin ordiri to lay the warp, begin

Date: 14th century

1 a : a group of people united in a formal way: as (1) : a fraternal society <the Masonic Order> (2) : a community under a religious rule; especially : one requiring members to take solemn vows b : a badge or medal of such a society; also : a military decoration
2 a : any of the several grades of the Christian ministry b plural : the office of a person in the Christian ministry c plural : ordination
3 a : a rank, class, or special group in a community or society b : a class of persons or things grouped according to quality, value, or natural characteristics: as (1) : a category of taxonomic classification ranking above the family and below the class (2) : the broadest category in soil classification

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As a weaver, I find “akin to Latin ordiri to lay the warp, begin” fascinating!  That is exactly what a mother does for her infant — she lays the warp as her infant begins its life as a social being, and with that warp a person’s life is created.

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We cannot consider ‘mental’ or ‘behavioral’ ‘disorders’ outside of the context that gave birth not only to the words themselves, but to the cultural ideas and concepts that contain them.

It is clear to me that all of these words originated within a Christian mindset and cultural world view.  We continue to use these words AS IF (think alchemy again) we could transmute the concepts, values, beliefs, understandings and religious underpinnings beneath and behind them into something magically SCIENTIFIC.

Main Entry: sci·ence

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin scientia, from scient-, sciens having knowledge, from present participle of scire to know; perhaps akin to Sanskrit chyati he cuts off, Latin scindere to split — more at shed

Date: 14th century

1 : the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study <the science of theology> b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge <have it down to a science>
3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : natural science
4 : a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws <cooking is both a science and an art>

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“Scientific’ is supposedly “the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.”  We are all familiar in our culture with the other end of the ‘nonscientific’ spectrum, and the conflict that often arises between them:

Main Entry: re·li·gion

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at rely

Date: 13th century

1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

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Yet if we are honest with ourselves as a species, this entire discussion and any consideration of what the terms ‘mental health’ and ‘behavioral health’, as well as ‘mental disorder’ and ‘behavioral disorder’ is really describing is how comfortably –or not — an individual fits into the social system of which they are a member.

At the point that so-called ‘science’ wanted to begin to establish itself separately from ‘religion’ words began to be used in our language that were supposed to take ‘how spirit remembers itself’ and transmute them magically into something else – something tangible, literal, measurable and real.

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As we accept these terms and use them to describe ourselves and/or others, we are continuing only to consider human beings in the context of the social environment they live within.  We are not REALLY concerning ourselves with the actual conditions of well-being or lack of well-being that a person experiences from within their own skin.  We are a social species, so it is not at all surprising that the formulas we use in our thinking about how we fit into the larger social context are all reducible down to social relationships.

And, again, it is the earliest mothering caregiver interactions we experience during our infant brain developmental stages that entirely build the foundation of our social brain that will regulate our interactions within our own self and within our social environment for the rest of our lives.  These experiences ‘order’ our brain.  It is at this level that we have to look for what happens to us the rest of our lives.

It is at this very real level of interaction between our social environment (our mothering experiences) and our growing and forming social brain’s foundation that we can NOW understand the science of social interaction.  It has nothing to do with ‘religion’ as we usually understand it as lying at the foundation of our culture, our social order, or the words, concepts and terms we use to consider our ‘invisible’ ideas.

The Latin conception of ‘religio’ as tying and binding together is, in its largest sense, what mothering an infant adequately is all about.  Social interaction is the way humans, as members of a social species, find themselves in the world from the building of our early-forming social-brain on up.  Neurons tie themselves together and form circuits, pathways, patterns in our early-forming brain that are SUPPOSED to link us harmoniously to our own SELF and to other selves in the world around us – beginning with our mothering early caregiver.  How our brain is ‘ordered’ and organized happens through social attachment.

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Looking at the roots of our word ‘social’ I find it related in its origins to ‘man, companion, ally’ (and also, interestingly, as it relates to ‘sue’).  We are a social species, and therefore the issue of companionship – companionship with our mother, companionship with our developing self, and companionship with other members of our species – forms the foundation of who we are through the social brain we built.

Our word ‘companion’ is fundamentally connected in its origins to FOOD, and for all the words I have considered today, it is only in this simple word – food – that I find an origin in our language that goes back before the 12th century.

FOOD

Etymology: Middle English fode, from Old English fōda; akin to Old High German fuotar food, fodder, Latin panis bread, pascere to feed

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NOW THIS IS TAKING US BACK TO WHAT MATTERS.  THIS WORD TAKES US BACK TO OUR HUMAN ROOTS.  THIS WORD IS ABOUT OUR ORIGINS.  With our mothers, beginning our human journey, we transition into the social ordering of our very foundational social brain through all the kinds and qualities of FEEDING that our earliest caregiver, our mother, gives to us.

This is the natural order of making a human being.  This is where our attachments in the world begin.  This is where all our feel-good physiological processes originate.

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If you are still reading this post, and have followed along this far, you will appreciate what a search through words in our language now gives us.  Mothering is about something both so simple and so profound that it lies at the basis of our species.  Mothers can either provide the best possible nourishment for her offspring or she cannot.

Main Entry: nour·ish

Pronunciation: \ˈnər-ish, ˈnə-rish\

Etymology: Middle English nurishen, from Anglo-French nuriss-, stem of nurrir, norrir, from Latin nutrire to suckle, nourish; akin to Greek nan to flow, noteros damp, Sanskrit snauti it drips

Date: 14th century

1 : nurture, rear
2 : to promote the growth of
3 a : to furnish or sustain with nutriment : feed b : maintain, support

nour·ish·er noun

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All of my thoughts, in fact all of anyone’s thoughts, always return in their origins to the mother who brought us into the world and who was then responsible for forming the foundations of our earliest social-emotional brain.  We find in one single word the essence of all that matters in our beginnings.

Main Entry: 1suck

Function: verb

Etymology: Middle English suken, from Old English sūcan; akin to Old High German sūgan to suck, Latin sugere

Date: before 12th century

transitive verb 1 a : to draw (as liquid) into the mouth through a suction force produced by movements of the lips and tongue <sucked milk from his mother’s breast> b : to draw something from or consume by such movements c : to apply the mouth to in order to or as if to suck out a liquid
2 a : to draw by or as if by suction b : to take in and consume by or as if by suction

We draw the world into ourselves in our beginnings through our interactions with our earliest caregiver, our earliest representation of humanity in our world – our mother.  We take in and consume what she provides for us and build a brain out of it, build a nervous system, an immune system, and entire body that has at its basis of operation in the world the signals her treatment of us communicates to us about the condition of the world:  Is it a safe and secure benevolent world or is it an unsafe, insecure malevolent one?

The resiliency factors available in our own DNA memory or our species allow us to adapt to and adjust within the quality of the world our mother presents to us from our conception.  How our developing body-brain is ordered is dependent upon the interactions we have with ALL of our earliest caregivers, but most centrally upon the interactions with the mother that suckles us – by feeding us information about the condition of the world that we adapt ourselves to in our earliest development.

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We have reached the heart of the matter.  We cannot separate either our mind or our behavior from the body we live within, this same body that was guided in its development by the suckling we received from our mothering caregiver that built us.

What we are actually talking about is our degree of SOCIAL HEALTH.  This is, in my opinion, the most accurate term we can use to talk about how we are in the world as members of a social species.

The problem with adopting Social Health as an accurate term related to our degrees of well-being is that it simply does not allow us to continue using stigma against one another.  Social Health and well-being is about ALL OF US.  It is about our entire body, not only individually, but about the health of the culture we live within and on the largest scale, of the entire quality of health for every single one of the members of our species on our planet.

Main Entry: stig·ma

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural stig·ma·ta

\stig-ˈmä-tə, ˈstig-mə-tə\ or stig·mas

Etymology: Latin stigmat-, stigma mark, brand, from Greek, from stizein to tattoo — more at stick

Date: circa 1593

1 a archaic : a scar left by a hot iron : brand b : a mark of shame or discredit : stain <bore the stigma of cowardice> c : an identifying mark or characteristic; specifically : a specific diagnostic sign of a disease
2 a stigmata plural : bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Jesus and sometimes accompanying religious ecstasy

Once we are given a ‘diagnosis’, we are then the recipient of a ‘brand’ or a ‘mark’ that sticks to us and separates us from ‘the others’.

Main Entry: 1stickFunction: noun

Etymology: Middle English stik, from Old English sticca; akin to Old Norse stik stick, Old English stician to stick

Date: before 12th century

1 : a woody piece or part of a tree or shrub: as a : a usually dry or dead severed shoot, twig, or slender branch b : a cut or broken branch or piece of wood gathered for fuel or construction material
2 a : a long slender piece of wood or metal: as (1) : a club or staff used as a weapon (2) : walking stick b : an implement used for striking or propelling an object in a game c : something used to force compliance d : a baton symbolizing an office or dignity; also : a person entitled to bear such a baton

We are cast aside, as if we are cut off as a branch would be broken from the main tree of human life.  We are both ‘stuck’ with the stigma and ‘struck’ by it because stigmas hurt people.

Social Health is an inclusive rather than an exclusive term.  Using it would stop stigmatization dead in its tracks.  Everyone would then be included; nobody would be marked, cast off, stigmatized, judged, condemned or punished as being different from anybody else.  Everyone has some degree of social health.

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Oh, but in the U.S.A. we are such big fans of uniqueness and individuality.  Social Health smacks of ‘socialism’ and unwanted oppression over the rights of the individual!  We want to be ‘free’ to be ‘different’ from everyone else.  We do not want to accept that after all, we are human beings just like everyone else is.

When we are ‘free’ to be ‘unique individuals’ and ‘different’ from everyone else, we can feel superior or inferior, better-than or less-than other people.  We can keep our stigmas, our prejudices, our arrogance and our ignorance.  We do not want to admit or accept that these aspects to our ‘social ordering’ within our culture are fooling no one but ourselves.

We continue to keep our illusions intact, and believe in ‘manifest destiny’ and ‘the right of imminent domain’.  After all, in America anyone and everyone can ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps’ if they only want to.  After all, we are all born ‘all men are equal before the law’.

Never mind that laws are not enforced equally.  Never mind that infant-children can be neglected, battered, abused and maltreated within our national boundaries, forcing these victim-survivors to grow a completely evolutionarily altered body and brain that will change how they are in the world for the rest of their lives.  What is happening to The Great Society?

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Our primary concern is with health – every kind of health related to the conditions of being human.  Because we are a species of social beings, all of our health concerns boil down to social ones.  The adjective we use to talk about how we are as social beings in the world, in relationship with our own self and with one another needs to be accurate.  Social Health uses the right adjective.

Main Entry: health

Function: noun

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English helthe, from Old English ̄lth, from hāl

Date: before 12th century

1 a : the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially : freedom from physical disease or pain b : the general condition of the body <in poor health> <enjoys good health>
2 a : flourishing condition : well-being b : general condition or state <poor economic health>

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+THIS HONEST TRUTH: ME, MY 6-YEAR-OLD SELF AND MY MOTHER’S 1958 LETTERS

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It takes courage for me to publish here this link (below) because I do not have any answers when it comes to my own ongoing, internal, personal experience with my childhood traumas with my mother.  I have returned to the task of transcribing my mother’s 1958 letters, a job that I left behind several months back.

My efforts TODAY to deal with further discovery in my mother’s letters of her beliefs about me as a six-year-old disintegrated me even further than they did last night when I first re-encountered her writing.  The internal process going on for me as contained here and in this link make me feel like I am dying, my guts torn out and strewn on the ground as Hitchcock’s birds fly at me to peck my eyes out.

I guess I could say, “This post may trigger” — it certainly triggered me:

*Age 6 – Jan. 1958 First Grade in Mother’s Letters

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background information:

Diagnosis of Trauma and Abuse-Related Dissociative Symptom Disorders in Children and Adolescents

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This is what I wrote when I found that the first words of the first 1958 letter of my mother’s that I picked up to work on transcribing last night was about me:

I feel icky and contaminated as I start back to work on my mother’s letters, a job I abandoned awhile back because I was SICK of the memory of my mother.  These are the 1958 letters from the year I was 6, in first grade, the first year we were in Alaska.  By August 31, 1958 I turned seven and started second grade that fall.

My mother – with her twisted, tweaked, twilight borderline distorted view of the world – the one I grew up thinking was normal because I had no frame of reference to the contrary.

As soon as I begin work again with my mother’s letters I can feel conflict between knowing the truth NOW that I didn’t know for the first 30 years of my life, and my feelings of what, fear?  That I ‘should’ respect my mother, and “Who am I to make up all these bad things about her and slander her good name?”  Bad Linda.  Bad, Bad Linda.

Horse pucky.

These feelings are difficult to identify and to face head on because I have spent most of my life avoiding them.  It’s like getting caught in a time warp, reading that my father in January of 1958 just went out the door to start the car to warm it up and is coming back into the house in a minute to get the note my mother is writing so it can be mailed to my grandmother.  All dead, all of them dead now.  How, really, can a person criticize a dead person’s life?

What values of my own do I confront here?  They certainly aren’t around to care what I say about anything.  Is all that I have here before me in these tattered and tanning envelopes really nothing but the passing of time – soon to be 52 years of it with this particular batch of mother’s letters.

Yet it does matter.  These people’s lives formed mine, and I in turn formed my children’s lives.  We all just march on down the road of our lives leaving one little tiny, miniature less than an ant sized footprint along the pathway after the other.

Yet I know I am not far away from my own deep sadness as I transcribe my mother’s letters:  I wanted my parents to love me and they did not.  I want to reach my hands back through the passage of all this time gone by, grab them each by the shoulders as the big person I am now.  I want to shake them, looking them each straight in the eye.  My face would follow theirs closely if they tried to look away from me when I ask them, “Why?  Why could you not love me?  I am your CHILD!  Why did you HURT me?”

I never really was my parents’ child.  I was their hated stranger.

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