Personality means “the evolving values, beliefs, traits, reflexes, talents, and limitations that make every person unique.”
Donald opened with a poem by Emily Dickinson
There is a pain – so utter –
It swallows substance up –
Then covers the Abyss with Trance –
So Memory can step
Around – across – upon it –
As one within a Swoon –
Goes safely – where an open eye –
Would drop Him –
Bone by Bone.(Selected Poems, Everyman, 1996)
According to the Donald, this poem describes how the inner world comes to the rescue of the trauma survivor. In terms of the psyche, trauma is any experience that causes unbearable pain or anxiety. Anything that leaves the child feeling that the essence of who they are is defective or missing in essential value and therefore at risk of annihilation is traumatic. Dissociation is necessary for the individual to go on living; the pain is distributed to make it more manageable. It also saves something of spirit for later growth. This is a self-care system that allows one part to regress and the other part to progress.
Donald spoke of the split between the innocent part of the self that has been saved by an ‘imaginal inner world of companions’. This self is now in hiding from the real world with its undependable attachments. This is a world of tyrannical infantilism where the victim becomes the perpetrator, where the personal is projected onto the general and vice versa. He describes a ‘Self-Care System’ that protects the personality from disintegration, a system that a) makes meaning for child’s life, b) that regulates distance from the world of others – ‘all by myself’ might be the catchword, c) establishes self-regulation to control aggression towards the other and d) promotes self preservation by keeping feelings at bay, very often through addictions – a slow suicide. This is a world where there are no memories, only flashbacks and repetition. Relationship is the conduit through which this painful work can be repaired. He articulates what we as humanistic and integrative psychotherapists have held – that relationship is the way through this impasse. https://iahip.org/inside-out/issue-55-summer-2008/the-inner-world-of-trauma-the-lost-and-recovered-soul-public-lecture-and-seminar-with-donald-kalsched-ph-d-4th-and-5th-april-2008
Our brains develop from before birth and into adulthood (Siegel and Bryson, 2012). But there are key ‘sensitive periods’ during early childhood and adolescence where children and young people’s brains are more malleable, making them more susceptible to positive or negative experiences (Shonkoff et al, 2008).
What happens during a child or young person’s life in these periods can have a significant effect on a child’s brain development.
Positive experiences throughout childhood help to build healthy brains. Conversely, childhood trauma and abuse can harm a child’s brain development. However, positive experiences, caring relationships and support services can reduce the harmful effects of negative experiences and help a child’s brain continue to develop in a healthy manner (Shonkoff et al, 2015).
Although it’s beneficial to provide children with positive experiences as early as possible, our brains always have the potential to change and grow. It’s never too late to give a child or young person positive brain building experiences.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become an important public health problem. However, the conventional therapeutic strategy, including pharmacotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, has limitations. Neurofeedback is a technique that utilizes electroencephalography (EEG) signaling to monitor human physiological functions and is widely used to treat patients with PTSD. The purpose of our study is to assess the efficacy and safety level of neurofeedback treatment in patients with PTSD using quantitative EEG.
Neurofeedback is widely used for various psychiatric diseases, including PTSD. It has an advantage over CBT because it does not re-expose patients with PTSD to the traumatic event. Several studies have reported on the effects of neurofeedback on patients with PTSD. However, most of these studies used a relatively small sample size.11, 58, 59 Additionally, some did not feature a control group and, therefore, could not account for the natural history effect of the disease, regression to mean, and several non-specific effects.15, 16 Some studies did not report the exact location of the electrode.18 Several studies did not report the neurofeedback protocol, which limits their reproducibility and the clinical utility of their results.17, 26
“Trauma survivors have symptoms instead of memories”
Harvey, M. (1990). An ecological view of psychological trauma and recovery. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9(1)
It can be really tough to try to make sense of a past trauma and how it effects you in the here and now. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has a specific set of symptoms, such as nightmares and flashbacks. But the reality of complex trauma resulting from repeated traumatic events is that the effects go far beyond the symptoms outlined in the DSM.
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds”
Trauma Survivors Have Symptoms Instead of Memories by guest @LinneaButlerMFT
Characteristics of children’s memory for a trauma and for a positive event were compared and relationships of memory characteristics to trauma symptoms examined in 30 children who experienced a traumatic event. Results revealed that memories for trauma tended to have less sensory detail and coherence, yet have more meaning and impact than did memories for positive experiences. Sexual traumas, offender relationship, and perceived life threat were associated with memory characteristics. Few relationships between memory characteristics and trauma symptoms were found. Therapist ratings of child memory characteristics were correlated with some child trauma memory characteristic reports. These results are consistent with other studies. Possible explanations include divided attention during the traumatic event and cognitive avoidance occurring after the event.
Bremner, J. D., Krystal, J. H., Charney, D. S., & Southwick, S. M. (1996). Neural mechanisms in dissociative amnesia for childhood abuse: Relevance to the current controversy surrounding the “false memory syndrome.” The American Journal of Psychiatry, 153, 71-82. (Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.)