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Junot Díaz: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma | The New Yorker

In the treatment world, they say that often you have to hit rock bottom before you finally seek help. It doesn’t always work that way, but that sure is how it was for me. I had to lose almost everything and then some. And then some. Before I finally put out my hand.

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The Leadership Council – Trauma and Memory

Research has shown that traumatized individuals respond by using a variety of psychological mechanisms. One of the most common means of dealing with the pain is to try and push it out of awareness. Some label the phenomenon of the process whereby the mind avoids conscious acknowledgment of traumatic experiences as dissociative amnesia . Others use terms such as repression , dissociative state , traumatic amnesia, psychogenic shock, or motivated forgetting . Semantics aside, there is near-universal scientific acceptance of the fact that the mind is capable of avoiding conscious recall of traumatic experiences.

  • Aug 17, 2015: New study confirms neurological pathway for inaccessible traumatic memories. Special brain mechanism discovered to store stress-related, unconscious memories. Science News
    Some stressful experiences — such as chronic childhood abuse — are so traumatic, the memories hide like a shadow in the brain and can’t be consciously accessed. Eventually, suppressed memories can cause debilitating psychological problems. Scientists have discovered how and where the brain stores those stressful memories and how to retrieve them. The findings could lead to new treatment for patients with repressed traumatic memories.
  • FAQ on Traumatic Memory
  • Recovered Memories: True or False? – Statement by the Leadership Council on recovered memories.
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The Effect of Childhood Trauma on Brain Development

Abstract: The present chapter will review childhood PTSD with specific focus on neurobiological sequelae of childhood trauma and present some preliminary evidence of altered functioning of brainstem catecholamine systems in childhood PTSD. In specific, it is hypothesized that the abnormal patterns of catecholamine activity associated with prolonged ‘alarm reactions’ induced by traumatic events during infancy and childhood can result in altered development of the central nervous system (CNS). Furthermore, it is hypothesized that this altered development includes a ‘dysregulated’ brainstem which in turn results in a host of signs and symptoms related to abnormal brainstem functioning, including altered cardiovascular regulation, affective lability, behavioral impulsivity, increased anxiety, increased startle response and sleep abnormalities. Finally, early life experience is discussed, in context of childhood trauma, as an ‘expresser of genetic predispositions.

Perry, B. D. (1996). Neurodevelopmental Adaptations to Violence: How Children Survive the Intragenerational Vortex of Violence. In Violence and Childhood Trauma: Understanding and Responding to the Effects of Violence on Young Children. Cleveland, Ohio: Gund Foundation Publishers, pp.67-80.

Perry, B. D. (1997). Incubated in Terror: Neurodevelopmental Factors in the “Cycle of Violence.” In J. Osofsky (Ed.). Children, Youth and Violence: The Search for Solutions . (pp. 124-148). New York: Guilford Press.
How violence alters the brain and nervous system of the developing child.

Perry, B. D. (1997). Altered Brain Development Following Global Neglect in Early Childhood. (1997). Academy version of a paper presented at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, New Orleans.

Perry, B. D. (1998). Neurophysiological Aspects of Anxiety Disorders in Children. In: Textbook of Pediatric Neuropsychiatry. In C.E. Coffey & R.A. Brumback (Eds.), Textbook of Pediatric Neuropsychiatry. (pp. 579-594). Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

Perry, B.D. (1999). Memories of fear: How the Brain Stores and Retrieves Physiologic States, Feelings, Behaviors and Thoughts from Traumatic Events. In J.M. Goodwin & R. Attias (Eds.), Splintered Reflections: Images of the Body In Trauma. (pp. 9-38). New York: Basic Books.

Perry, B.D. (1999). Violence and Childhood: How Persisting Fear Can Alter the Developing Child’s Brain.

Perry, B. D. (2000). Traumatized children: How childhood trauma influences brain development. The Journal of the California Alliance for the Mentally Ill 11(1), 48-51.

Perry, B.D. (2001). The neurodevelopmental impact of violence in childhood. In D. Schetky & E. Benedek (Eds.), Textbook of Child and Adolescent Forensic Psychiatry. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

Perry, B.D. (2001) The neuroarcheology of childhood maltreatment: The neurodevelopmental costs of adverse childhood events. In B. Geffner (Ed.), The Cost of Child Maltreatment: Who Pays? We All Do. San Diego, CA: Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute.

Perry, B.D. (2001). Trauma and Terror in Childhood: The Neuropsychiatric Impact of Childhood Trauma. In Ed., I. Schulz, S. Carella & D.O. Brady (Eds.). Handbook of Psychological Injuries: Evaluation, Treatment and Compensable Damages. American Bar Association Publishing.

Perry, B.D. (2002). Childhood Experience and the Expression of Genetic Potential: What Childhood Neglect Tells Us About Nature and Nurture. Brain and Mind, 3, 79-100,

Abstract. Studies of childhood abuse and neglect have important lessons for considerations of nature and nurture. While each child has unique genetic potentials, both human and animal studies point to important needs that every child has, and severe long-term consequences for brain function if those needs are not met. The effects of the childhood environment, favorable or unfavorable, interact with all the processes of neurodevelopment (neurogenesis, migration, differentiation, apoptosis, arborization, synaptogenesis, synaptic sculpting, and myelination). The time courses of all these neural processes are reviewed here along with statements of core principles for both genetic and environmental influences on all of these processes. Evidence is presented that development of synaptic pathways tends to be a “use it or lose it” proposition. Abuse studies from the author’s laboratory, studies of children in orphanages who lacked emotional contact, and a large number of animal deprivation and enrichment studies point to the need for children and young nonhuman mammals to have both stable emotional attachments with and touch from primary adult caregivers, and spontaneous interactions with peers. If these connections are lacking, brain development both of caring behavior and cognitive capacities is damaged in a lasting fashion. These effects of experience on the brain imply that effects of modern technology can be positive but need to be monitored. While technology has raised opportunities for children to become economically secure and literate, more recent inadvertent impacts of technology have spawned declines in extended families, family meals, and spontaneous peer interactions. The latter changes have deprived many children of experiences that promote positive growth of the cognitive and caring potentials of their developing brains.

Perry, B.D. (in press). Sexual Abuse of Infants. A five-part question focusing on sexual abuse during infancy

Perry, B. D., Conroy, L., & Ravitz, A. (1991). Persisting psychophysiological effects of traumatic stress: The memory of “states”. Violence Update, 1(8), 1-11.

Perry, B. D., & Marcellus, J. E. (1997). The Impact of Abuse and Neglect on the Developing Brain. Colleagues for Children, 7, 1-4. [Missouri Chapter of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse]

Perry, B. D., & Pollard, R. Altered brain development following global neglect in early childhood. Society For Neuroscience: Proceedings from Annual Meeting , New Orleans, 1997)

Perry, B.D., & Pollard, R. (1998). Homeostasis, stress, trauma, and adaptation: A neurodevelopmental view of childhood trauma. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America , 7, 33-51.

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Parents losing custody to abusers

High conflict families are disproportionately represented among the population of those contesting custody and visitation. These cases commonly involve domestic violence, child abuse, and substance abuse. Research indicates that that custody litigation can become a vehicle whereby batterers and child abusers attempt to extend or maintain their control and authority over their victims after separation. Although, research has not found a higher incidence of false allegations of child abuse and domestic violence in the context of custody/visitation, officers of the court tend to be unreasonably suspicious of such claims and that too often custody decisions are based on bad science, misinterpretation of fact, and evaluator bias. As a result, many abused women and their children find themselves re-victimized by the justice system after separation.

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Child abuse and interpersonal violence

Some unfortunate women after years of enduring domestic violence have lost custody to the batterers who abused them. In these cases, batterers have made good on their threat to attack their ex-partner in the place she is the most vulnerable—by taking her children away from her. After separation, these batterers continue to wage their campaign of manipulation and abuse by attempting to convince involved children that their mothers never loved them. Looking for a way to describe their batterers’ behavior, some mothers have called what their batterer is doing “parental alienation syndrome.”

In reality, what these women are describing from their ex-partners is better termed Domestic Violence by Proxy (DV by Proxy), a term first used by Alina Patterson, author of Health and Healing. DV by Proxy refers to a pattern of behavior which is a parent with a history of using domestic violence or intimidation, uses a child as a substitute when he no longer has access to his former partner. Calling this behavior “parental alienation” is not strong enough to convey the criminal pattern of terroristic behaviors employed by batterers.

When his victim leaves him, batterers often recognize that the most expedient way to continue to hurt his partner is to assert his legal rights to control her access to their children. By gaining control of the children, an abusive male now has a powerful tool which allows him to continue to stalk, harass and batter an ex-partner even when he has no direct access to her. Moreover, by emotionally torturing the child and severing the bond between children and their mother, he is able to hurt his intended victim — the mother — in a way she cannot resist.

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Moral insanity

Moral insanity referred to a type of mental disorder consisting of abnormal emotions and behaviours in the apparent absence of intellectual impairments, delusions, or hallucinations. It was an accepted diagnosis in Europe and America through the second half of the 19th century.

The physician James Cowles Prichard first used the phrase to describe a mental disorder in 1835 in his Treatise on insanity and other disorders affecting the mind.[1] He defined moral insanity as: “madness consisting in a morbid perversion of the natural feelings, affections, inclinations, temper, habits, moral dispositions, and natural impulses, without any remarkable disorder or defect of the interest or knowing and reasoning faculties, and particularly without any insane illusion or hallucinations.”[2][3][4]

The concept of moral insanity was indebted to the work of physician Philippe Pinel, which was acknowledged by Prichard. Pinel had described mental diseases of only partial, affective, insanity. His concept Manie sans délire (Latin – mania sine delirio; French – folie raisonnante or folie lucide raisonnante, monomanie affective; German – Moralisches Irresein[5]) referred to insanity without delusion. That is, the sufferer was thought to be mad in one area only and thus the personality of the individual might be distorted but his or her intellectual faculties were unimpaired.[6]

The term ‘moral’, at that time and taken originally from French, could mean emotional rather than necessarily referring to ethics.

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Intuition – not to be confused with Instinct

Modern psychology

In more-recent psychology, intuition can encompass the ability to know valid solutions to problems and decision making. For example, the recognition primed decision (RPD) model explains how people can make relatively fast decisions without having to compare options. Gary Klein found that under time pressure, high stakes, and changing parameters, experts used their base of experience to identify similar situations and intuitively choose feasible solutions. Thus, the RPD model is a blend of intuition and analysis. The intuition is the pattern-matching process that quickly suggests feasible courses of action. The analysis is the mental simulation, a conscious and deliberate review of the courses of action.[31]

Instinct is often misinterpreted as intuition and its reliability considered to be dependent on past knowledge and occurrences in a specific area. For example, someone who has had more experiences with children will tend to have a better instinct about what they should do in certain situations with them. This is not to say that one with a great amount of experience is always going to have an accurate intuition.[32]

Intuitive abilities were quantitatively tested at Yale University in the 1970s. While studying nonverbal communication, researchers noted that some subjects were able to read nonverbal facial cues before reinforcement occurred.[33] In employing a similar design, they noted that highly intuitive subjects made decisions quickly but could not identify their rationale. Their level of accuracy, however, did not differ from that of non-intuitive subjects.[34]

According to the works of Daniel Kahneman, intuition is the ability to automatically generate solutions without long logical arguments or evidence.[35]

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10 Ways Being Too Nice Will End Badly For You

The world can be a dark place where positivity and kindness are hard to find…

…yet, there are many nice people out there who try to take on that darkness by letting their own kind light shine.

It’s an admirable desire and quality in any person. Unfortunately, there is a tremendous amount of suffering, negativity, and selfishness in theworld. People often look out fo

r themselves, not their fellow man.

Posted in Alienation

Bad Things Happen When You’re Too Nice

If you are always giving, people will expect that of you.

In the article, “5 Ways Being Too Nice Can Become Negative,” published on The Power of Positivity, the author states that if you don’t set boundaries, you will be viewed as a doormat and taken advantage of. Valuing yourself, making sure your needs are met, and establishing limits does not mean that you do not have sympathy for those around you. It just means that your needs are important as well.

I thought that people would like me better and see me as more valuable if I gave as much as I could. Instead, I found that people appreciated it less. Those around us will value us as much as we value ourselves. As I began to set limits and ask for help when I needed it, people began to notice and appreciate my contributions.

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The Dangers of Being Nice | Psychology Today

Does this mean you shouldn’t be nice?

Of course not. But there’s a difference between a values-driven life and an anxiety-driven one. A values-driven life comes out of your values, your core beliefs as an adult of how to be with others. You are kind and considerate and see that we are all struggling on this tiny dot of speck in the vast universe; you treat others the way you’d like to be treated. You do it not because you “should” or because you will feel guilty otherwise, but because it’s your life blueprint.

But along with this, you can say no, take care of yourself as well as others, be assertive and honest without being aggressive and hurtful. Life is win-win as much as possible.

The anxiety-driven life, on the other hand, makes being nice a way of managing anxiety. You learned to take a nice-stance as a way of avoiding conflict and confrontation that you can’t tolerate, a stance that is “I’m happy if you’re happy,” meaning I do whatever I need to do to not get you disgruntled, because your being upset makes me anxious. Here you don’t say no, you don’t speak up and be honest and assertive, because of your own fear. It’s less about a value of how to treat people and more a psychological flack-suit to protect you from what seems to be a scary world.

Ramping It Down

If you decide that you are, in fact, tired of being nice all the time, or tired of absorbing any or all of these consequences, it’s time to stop going on autopilot and begin to make choices and change some of your behaviors. Here’s how to get started:

1. Slow down to realize how you really feel.

If you’re an always-nice superstar, you likely don’t even realize how you feel a lot of the time. Rather than quickly raising your hand at the staff meeting when they call for volunteers, take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself whether you really want to do this. The same is true about negotiating with your partner: Stop the pre-compromise and figure out what you truly want. If you can’t tell at the time, wait, and continue to ask yourself how you truly feel; something will eventually emerge.

2. Practice saying no.

Not raising your hand is saying no, but you want to practice doing this more actively — this is about setting boundaries. If you’re asked to be on a church committee, for example, and don’t want to, say no. Better yet, be proactive and let others know where you stand before they come to you. If it’s too difficult to say no in person, call and leave a voicemail, or send a text. Just get it done.

3. Use your anger as information.

When you feel anger, irritation, or resentment, use it as information telling you what you need, what you don’t like, what you may want. Then again speak up.

4. Practice being more honest.

Honesty is essentially what setting boundaries is all about, but honesty is also the driver of intimacy. Move out of that superficial talk and experiment with deeper conversations — tell those close to you how you really feel rather than “fine.” If your partner is doing the same, get the problem of verbal intimacy and honesty on the table as something you both want to work on

5. Use your symptoms as tools to let you know when you’re overextended.

Don’t just sweep the binge or the burnout or the passive-aggressiveness under the rug, but instead use them as red flags that you are being over-responsible, that you are neglecting your own needs. It’s time to not just apologize or recover, but again speak up.

6. Push back against the critical voices.

Your critical voices will go crazy as you begin any of the above. You will feel guilty, you will feel anxious that the world will despise you and that terrible things will happen. This is little-kid stuff that flares up when you start to break your old patterns. Take a few deep breaths, pat yourself on the back, and keep moving forward.

So, are you ready to give up some of your niceness?


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