Tragedy and child trauma

Tragedy and child trauma is a topic I’ve had too many occasions to write about lately. I’ve modified this post and reposted it in respect for the sorrow and death that occurred in Texas on 11/5 caused by an ex military person with a history of domestic violence in the hope that it may help children. Talking about traumatic events can help children and adults work through the pain or fear of a memory and in the process move the memory from a more emotional short term storage area of the brain into a less emotionally triggering long term area of the memory.

The number of deaths and injuries that occurred is devastating, heart-breaking, and my thoughts & prayers are with the families and also anger at the injustice of a random act of violence disrupting and ending so many lives. Calls for more stringent gun control and gun safety classes may make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to have guns while criminals would likely still have a black market for them but the graph in this link suggests it would help: https://twitter.com/JustinWolfers/status/927866872401416192

The shooter wouldn’t have been able to legally obtain a gun if his history of domestic violence had been properly reported to the current system however, and the shooter was stopped by an NRA member who was nearby and was called for help by a witness. http://www.bizpacreview.com/2017/11/06/nra-member-involved-shooting-took-shooter-558745

This link includes many statistics and a variety of ways that gun safety might be increased without necessarily taking away the right to own guns. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/06/opinion/how-to-reduce-shootings.html?smid=tw-share

The current administration recently made it easier for people with mental illness to obtain guns legally, https://twitter.com/TODAYshow/status/927509432015171585

However most mental illness doesn’t increase risk of mass violence. A history of child trauma or domestic violence is linked to it. And copying previous acts of violence is also a risk. This comment sums it up https://twitter.com/bpshow/status/927872165717962752

Men and society support of kindness might help. Research suggests testosterone may have a role to play in men copying good or bad behavior. Testosterone in men can lead to trying to be better, bigger, faster, more whatever – the crowd of other men seem to approve. More positive acts being approved leads to more better, bigger, faster, etc positive acts and when negative honor killings or other negative treatment of people, women or children seem to be supported then that may lead to more extreme negative acts. (p106-107, Sapolsky) Men and women, boys and girls can help promote safety by not supporting violence or harassment of women and girls or other minority groups or poor people. We as a group also tend to like to feel superior to someone when in reality we are all just a brief moment in geologic time. the planet has had many long phases without humans and may yet again if we don’t start working towards a more sustainable way of using our planet’s limited supply of resources.

We all have quirks and good days and bad days but not like the shooter in Texas. Most of us are caring and can control ourselves or punch a pillow if we’re angry. The common theme of random mass violence is a male with a history of domestic violence or who experienced child trauma and who may be a binge drinker. From a previous post: Regarding potential underlying reasons for a person to resort to mass violence – typically it isn’t due to “mentally ill” people unless they were already prone to violence. An increased risk for violence is not associated with depression, anxiety or ADHD. Increased risk for mass violence is significantly associated though with being a male who had experienced child trauma and who is a binge drinker.  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318286/ )

So addressing poverty and binge drinking would likely help more than focusing just on gun control methods, 50% of children live in poverty, which is associated with stress for the household.

Until we change our approach to equality in general and regarding gender relations we may not achieve the peace that I knew as a child.  It can help children and survivors to talk about their experience or fears, otherwise there can be a risk of PTSD, an over active fear response which can worsen with repeated trauma.

From a previous post: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur in observers of trauma even if they weren’t harmed. There are many helpful articles available on the topic: (Talking about trauma may help prevent PTSD)

Some other tips for helping reduce symptoms of PTSD https://www.organicfacts.net/post-traumatic-stress.html

More information about early childhood and developing trust through secure attachment parenting styles is available on my new website, in the section Trust is Learned Early.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

 

Childhood emotional trauma can cause brain changes

Changes in the temporal lobe may cause temporal lobe epilepsy which can include a variety of symptoms that are less obvious than a seizure. Feelings of disorientation from temporal lobe epilepsy can include “mind-body dissociation—the feeling that one is watching one’s own actions as a detached observer.”

These studies suggest that child abuse may alter development of the left hippocampus permanently and, in so doing, cause deficits in verbal memory and dissociative symptoms that persist into adulthood. ”

The left hemisphere is specialized for perceiving and expressing language…

The research suggests that children who experience trauma may have lasting damage occur in their left temporal lobe which is a part of the brain that contains the smaller hippocampus. Temporal lobe epilepsy is uncommon but is more of a risk for children who suffered trauma of some sort. It doesn’t cause seizures that are as obvious as those that occur in other types of epilepsy. Diagnosis can be difficult also because the patient would need to be having an EEG performed while having a temporal lobe seizure.

Symptoms may include: “Because these areas constitute a sizable, varied part of the brain, TLE has a veritable catalog of possible symptoms, including sensory changes such as headache, tingling, numbness, dizziness, or vertigo; motor symptoms such as staring or twitching; or autonomic symptoms such as flushing, shortness of breath, nausea, or the stomach sensation of being in an elevator. TLE can cause hallucinations or illusions in any sense modality. Common visual illusions are of patterns, geometric shapes, flashing lights, or “Alice-in-Wonderlandlike” distortions of the sizes or shapes of objects. Other common hallucinations are of a ringing or buzzing sound or repetitive voice, a metallic or foul taste, an unpleasant odor, or the sensation of something crawling on or under the skin. Feelings of déjà vu (the unfamiliar feels familiar) or jamais vu (the familiar feels unfamiliar) are common, as is the sense of being watched or of mind-body dissociation—the feeling that one is watching one’s own actions as a detached observer. Emotional manifestations of temporal lobe seizures usually occur suddenly, without apparent cause, and cease as abruptly as they began; they include sadness, embarrassment, anger, explosive laughter (usually without feeling happy), serenity, and, quite often, fear.4

*I find this information interesting because I have had some of these symptoms in the past and my migraine headache pain was always greatest in the same spot on the left side of my head.

Ways to help protect the infant’s brain /may/ include rocking the baby (probably-gently) from side to side (based on animal research) as it seems to be calming for the brain’s cerebellar vermis which is a section that may help control electrical activity and prevent seizures. Infant rats who were handled by humans for just five minutes or those whose mother (rat) spontaneously licked and groomed them all showed lasting changes in their development,  behavior, and response to stress later in life.

ADHD like symptoms are common for people who had a childhood history of trauma and a smaller size of the cerebellar vermis is common in ADHD: “Interestingly, one of the most reliable neuroanatomical findings in ADHD is reduced size of the cerebellar vermis.”

Successful treatments are not that common which makes prevention of child abuse and neglect important for protecting children’s longterm quality of life. EMDR treatment is discussed in the article. I did find the cognitive therapy technique helpful for my own trauma history. The difficulty with traditional ‘talk therapy’ for issues that developed during early childhood is that verbal reasoning might not have been present when the trauma occurred. EMDR is a type of relaxation technique that can help the patient access deeper emotionally charged memories that aren’t based in words.

I wrote about the EMDR therapy technique in this post:  Talking about trauma with kids; PTSD, neural mapping, EMDR and reframing

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.