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.