Maria Cristina Verrocchio
The recently published article by Clemente and Padilla-Racero made incorrect statements regarding Richard Gard-ner and the mental condition that he identified, parental alienation syndrome. Clemente and Padilla-Racero conducted research on children and concluded, ” Gardner’s ideas about parental alienation syndrome, and in particular the ease of parental manipulation of children, were not empirically verified. ” When we reviewed the data from their own research, we arrived at the opposite conclusion, i.e., that over 40% of child subjects, age 6 to 12, were manipulated by adult suggestion to describe a non-event. We conclude that the data of Clemente and Padilla-Racero were consistent with Gardner’s theory that a parent can influence a child to make false statements about the other parent and to develop false beliefs and ultimately false memories of non-events. That article, which features misinformation and methodological flaws, should be withdrawn from publication. Clemente and Padilla-Racero (2015) recently published a research paper in Children and Youth Services Review, which was titled, ” Are children susceptible to manipulation? The best interest of children and their testimony. ” The purpose of their research was to test empirically the concept of parental alienation syndrome (PAS), a clinical condition that was described 30 years ago by Richard Gardner (1985). We identified many serious problems with the research design of Clemente and Padilla-Racero, their conclusions, and the text of the published paper. We appreciate the willingness of the editorial staff of Children and Youth Services Review to consider the publication of this commentary , which we hope will clear up the misunderstandings and errors that appeared in the Clemente and Padilla-Racero article.
Memory is one of the more highly valued cognitive capabilities. Memory is used in every day functioning and is a critical part of human development; however, what if memory was lost? What if an experience or even a period of time was simply erased? According to Eysenck and Keane (2015), repression is the concept of motivated forgetting of a traumatic experience (particularly from childhood). We will integrate the theory of repression with professional research with the intent of interpreting the link between repression and childhood trauma. While repression of childhood trauma can be a useful and even a necessary coping mechanism, unprocessed trauma can have a damaging effect on the mental, emotional, and even physical health of the individual. Processing repressed memories is critical to long term health; thus, understanding motivated forgetting and the risks of false memory associated with recovered memories is highly important during treatment. Continue reading “Impact of childhood trauma and the use of repressed memories”
What is Psychological Repression?
Repression serves as a defense mechanism where a person unconsciously pushes away painful or traumatic thoughts and memories. It often allows a person to live a relatively normal life while being seemingly unaware of the existence of such painful experiences.
It is important to note that repression is an unconscious act, and happens without a person intending to push certain memories away. In instances where a person consciously drives away distressing thoughts, it’s called suppression. Continue reading “What is Psychological Repression?”
How can someone actively cope with trauma?
It may not be unusual for an individual to see small glimpses of a traumatic memory that they previously could not recall. “What happens sometimes is that as the person becomes distant from the moment of trauma, the brain allows the memory to be released in packets of memory, so they may remember in short flashbacks or intrusive thoughts,” she said.
If someone is dealing with trauma, whether signs of dissociation are present or not, it can be a very overwhelming and scary experience. As these experiences can involve extremely sensitive topics, McLaughlin recommends getting expert help to move forward.
“The very first step is to seek therapy,” McLaughlin said. “Words allow us to get a handle on emotional experiences and memories that are embedded in emotional memory. Whether it’s formal psychological treatment or confiding in a trusted person, it’s best to talk to someone.” Continue reading “Can you unconsciously forget an experience?”
How repressed memories affect us
By repressing memories, we are stopping the brain from reliving traumatic events. So how does this affect us in real life?
At the time of the painful event, repressing the memory might be the only way a person can function. However, many psychologists believe that if these memories are left repressed, they can lead to mental problems further down the line. Some psychologists believe that these painful repressed memories can exert an influence on our behaviour, which could undermine our mental state. This is because even though the memory is repressed, it is still an intact memory. Continue reading “Could it be that some experiences are just too painful that our minds seek to protect us by shutting them down?”
The quick answer is yes, we really do repress painful memories. Not all bad memories are repressed. People still remember things like someone close to them passing away or abuse during childhood. However, there are certain painful memories our brains allow us to forget on a conscious level. It is our body’s way of protecting us and our feelings from really painful experiences that could cause emotional distress to remember. There are individuals who went through serious trauma but the brain locks it away so the person is unaware on a conscious level. Continue reading “Do We Really Repress Painful Memories?”
Their Choice—or Ours?
Society reaps what it sows in nurturing its children. Whether abuse of a child is physical, psychological, or sexual, it sets off a ripple of hormonal changes that wire the child’s brain to cope with a malevolent world. It predisposes the child to have a biological basis for fear, though he may act and pretend otherwise. Early abuse molds the brain to be more irritable, impulsive, suspicious, and prone to be swamped by ﬁght-or-ﬂight reactions that the rational mind may be unable to control. The brain is programmed to a state of defensive adaptation, enhancing survival in a world of constant danger, but at a terrible price. To a brain so tuned, Eden itself would seem to hold its share of dangers; building a secure, stable relationship may later require virtually superhuman personal growth and transformation.
Our brains are sculpted by our early experiences. Maltreatment is a chisel that shapes a brain to contend with strife, but at the cost of deep, enduring wounds. Childhood abuse isn’t something you “get over.” It is an evil that we must acknowledge and confront if we aim to do anything about the unchecked cycle of violence in this country. Continue reading “The Neurobiology of Child Abuse”
We easily understand how beating a child may damage the developing brain, but what about the all-too-common psychological abuse of children? Because the abuse was not physical, these children may be told, as adults, that they should just “get over it.”
But as developmental neuropsychiatrist Martin H. Teicher reveals, scientists are discovering some startling connections between abuse of all kinds and both permanent debilitating changes in the brain and psychiatric problems ranging from panic attacks to post-traumatic stress disorder. In these surprising physical consequences of psychological trauma, Teicher sees not only a wake-up call for our society but hope for new treatments.
A Constellation of Abnormalities
Our research (and that of other scientists) delineates a constellation of brain abnormalities associated with childhood abuse. There are four major components:
Limbic irritability, manifested by markedly increased prevalence of symptoms suggestive of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and by an increased incidence of clinically signiﬁcant EEG (brain wave) abnormalities.
Deﬁcient development and differentiation of the left hemisphere, manifested throughout the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus, which is involved in memory retrieval.
Deﬁcient left-right hemisphere integration, indicated by marked shifts in hemispheric activity during memory recall and by underdevelopment of the middle portions of the corpus callosum, the primary pathway connecting the two hemispheres.
Abnormal activity in the cerebellar vermis (the middle strip between the two hemispheres of the brain), which appears to play an important role in emotional and attentional balance and regulates electrical activity within the limbic system.
Let us look brieﬂy at the main evidence for each of these abnormalities.
Traumas and adversities in childhood may leave scars that last into adulthood and put a person at risk for a variety of difficulties. This is true for all kinds of early traumas, including accidents, disasters, and witnessing violence directed at others, but it is especially true for child abuse and neglect, the victims of which have been studied extensively. Not all childhood trauma survivors ex perience difficulties in adulthood. However, for many people, it may be important to come to terms with past traumatic events. People who have been in treatment can gain relief from anxiety and depression and are able to stop focusing on the disturbing memories and feelings associated with traumatic childhood events. Continue reading “Why is it Important to Get Help for Problems Related to Traumatic Childhood Events?”