Childhood Trauma in Adulthood
When you were a child you needed love. You still do of course, but when you were a child that requirement was completely unadulterated by – shall we say – distractions (money, time, escapism, etc). Of course you needed sustenance, i.e. your mother’s milk; plus an arse wipe here and there; a kip to help you grow; and warmth. But other than than it was all about love.
Now, I appreciare, love is not a very scientific word …yet. So I’ll try and break it down to add some sombre gravitas and academic credibility: Psychological stimulation of a positive nature; so as neurological pathways are healthily ‘exercised’ in a way that activates synapses and various ‘high brained centres’ in the mind (and heart) in order to build a bank of emotional and, dare I say, spiritual security.
Good Mums and Dads know exactly what I’m talking about. All that coochie-cooing was for a very good reason.
It forges a harmonious bond between infant and primary carer that accesses all the higher-brained activity such as communication, creativity, confidence, etc. The good stuff.
The flip side comes via neglect. Which is a form of abuse. But nothing happens. So it’s ‘anti’ abuse; making it difficult to detect without detailed and extended observations. Like in the Romanian orphanages.
The children there were physically ok, in terms of food, water, shelter, etc. But in terms of a loving dynamic of healthy relationships; stimulating community; and nuturing care givers, they were starved. Almost to death. Because the psychological ‘wounding’ that these children were subjected to was crippling. To an extent that they had no external life, and were therefore psychologically corroding because of their conditions.
Again, to add some science, specifically chemistry; their attempts, to receive the nurturing Energy – which us hippies call love – was futile. From their solitary cells (barred cribs) they could cry, shout, smash their heads against the walls, whatever. Nothing happened. No one came. No one cared for them.
So a substance called cortisol – a stress hormone – was released. In small doses cortisol is pretty useful. It puts you on edge, heightens your attentiveness, keeps you on your toes. But in the case of Romanian babies they were flooded with it. Cortisol tsunamis sloshed around in their little brains, and in such concentrations, it becomes corrosive. It numbs the brain tissue in a very detrimental way, and mental disorders arrive – perhaps beneficially to sooth the poor, deserted psyche …although I’m sure I don’t have to emphasise that this is anything but recommended, from the indiviual’s perspective. It might of course be recommended if your goal were to ‘break’ an individual – as with horses – to persuade them to run at, say, a machine gun; or sit in a dark factory all day?
If you want to know more about this chemical interplay of cortisol I recommend reading, ‘Why Love Matters,’ by Sue Gerhert.
The Romanian example is an extreme case, of course. Miles away in history – nothing to worry about.
But plenty of studies have been carried out on the orphans of Romania, now that they have reached adulthood, to understand the consequences of their dreadful ‘upbringing’. I’ll spare you all the details, but needless to say that the sharpness of their minds was blunted.
It is clear from the evidence that in order to function as a fully operational mammal, certain environmental parameters are necessary. Most of them the exact opposite to the Romanian orphans. And many western, modern, institutions.
Comparable is the wreched state that zoo animals arrive at in their solitary confinement. Admittedly, as time moves on, regulations become laws, and they are afforded more square footage these days. But you will surely have a mental reference of a tiger or a monkey pacing back and forth in a manic daze after years and years of captivity. They have – to use a colloquial term – lost their marbles. The cortisol, through stress and lowly depression, has numbed their minds to the desolate existence of neglect in which they find themselves.
Both the zoo animals, the Romanian orphans and most trauma sufferers the world over pine, psychologically, for Love.
Again, I appreciate that to us brought up in and amongst western academic rigour, Love has a reduced meaning. So I’ll elaborate. Without the close contact and bonding of positive interactive stimulus; societal security; and care; plus nurturing relationships, they went stir-fry bonkers.
And I will contend that our human culture and society do something subtly similar to our children, in western capitalism. I would also contend that it is not by accident either. The powers-that-be, in their ivory towers, require docile battery humans – to use a farming metaphor – in order to perform menial labour and carry out orders. So to create such subordinates and beasts of burden – willing to spend extended periods of time in inappropriate conditions (whether in front of a screen, down a mine or in a trench prior to being machine-gunned) a psychological condition called codependence must be cultivated, from early childhood.
Codependence arrives through childhood neglect. If a baby is ‘removed’ from its primary carer (i.e. and put in a nursery with many other babies) that essential, individual, care bond is denied. Trauma then induces cortisol excresion; and over extended periods – during what might be referred to as the ‘settling in’ period – the damage begins. Therefore the child grows with a emotional ‘void’. Love is missing. The child cannot ‘explore’ its environment in the freedom with which nature intended, because it is continually psychologically searching for codependent validation, aka parental Love.
Without Love the ‘lizard brain’ is maintained: Freeze, fight or flight. The ancestoral reptilian aspect to the Energy of the Mind. Predatory, cold-blooded, ruthless. Not yet developed enough to reach the zennith of human capability.
The accessibility of human charcteristics such as independent thinking, confidence, creativity, exploration and inner emotional security, is, at best, delayed as Psyche is stalled at the ‘Lizard Realm’ of consciousness.
I was put in a boarding school at the age of 11. And this was a perfect example of ripping a child from its nurturing foundation and exposing it to a cold and austere regimented existence, in which psychological trauma is fostered. Close affection and care is virtually minimal; aggressive psychological manipulation is abundant; and stress and trauma are common-place. This example mirrors other institutions to a greater or lesser extent, and the damage to a child’s development will vary accordingly. Cortisol is regularly induced, and psychological deficiencies can therefore be sustained under abusive socio-structures.
I was fortunate in that my parents arrived once a week to visit and nurture my well-being – the release of emotion in having an afternoon of attention and care was pronounced. And I distinctly remember that I was not alone in the distress, as a young child, on the Sunday evenings when our parents had again ‘detached’.
How ironic that the label ‘attention seeking’ is seen as anything other than a symptom of a needy Spirit pinning for love.
Again, this example can be paralleled through any neglect that a child can experience in a multitude of environments. Starved of Love they are forced to build up resistance and strategies to withstand the deficit. Parental relationships are vital to a child’s upbringing, they must be sacrosant in all civilisations.
They become ‘toughened’ – often, ironically, the reason parents send children away to such educational establishments. They learn defence mechanisms – frequently spikey, aggressive, ‘walls’ are built – to defend and deflect the crippling emotional pain of enduring the Lizard realm in their formative years. Demonstrating zero vulnerabilities is essential to avoid peer bullying. But without focused access to one’s emotional wounding, can there be healing…? These festering psychological ‘infections’ are hidden to avoid shame, and therefore intensify through a lack of exposure to light.
Bear in mind that these children with the some of the most pronounced childhood boarding-school traumas are funnelled into top leadership positions.
And, dependant on other factors, the symptoms of codependence (a ‘debt’ of love) can morph into other ‘special needs’; whether they be along the continuum of narcissism, the ‘numbing’ of autism; or other environmentally determined psychological branches from the trunk of Codependance: ‘People Pleaser Syndrome’.
Interestingly there seems to be increasing studies with psychotropic remedies (such as DMT, psyclosybin and such substances) that are able to perform what might be described as neurological ‘re-wiring’. To ‘release’ the past trauma and evoke authentic and loving connection and bonding to other people, animals, nature and the planet.
For example, if an adult person has an irrational fear of even the tiniest of dogs, via a traumatic experience as a child, these remedies can reset and reboot the emotional responses to such encounters.
Similarly, as an adult sustains childlike insecurity; inducing rage, depression and anxiety; through subconscious triggering; there is hope that such interventions can offer an easing of the neurosis, and therefore emotional relief. Regretably these options are currently illegal in many countries.
[External life – fear to acknowledge internal feelings. / George Orwell Animal Farm – attack dogs breed to kill. / Military schooling in Germany. Bavaria?]