The brains of young people are very adaptable to processing trauma, neglect and abuse. Sometimes the memories and traumatic experiences young people face lay dormant in the recesses of the mind until they have the cognitive understanding to properly deal with the facts and consequences of the negative events.
In many cases of parental abuse, children put so much trust and loyalty toward the adults who are supposed to be their protectors and the people they depend on for their very survival that they do not permit themselves to accept or understand when their trust is violated or trampled on. Over the course of many years, this creates an impenetrable wall of self-defense that is very difficult to penetrate in psychotherapy. Instead, the victim insists on loving and excusing the abusive and neglectful parent.
It is critical to detect the symptoms of trauma early on and to diagnose them in order to deal with the catastrophic results for individuals and a society compounding in personality disorders, eating disorders, stress, depression and anxiety that certainly will develop in the worst cases.
The role of a trauma-informed approach cannot be overstated in providing the trust and understanding to help lead the Psychotherapist to assisting in freeing the individual from body and mind self-defenses that no longer work to release the authentic self of the individual. Often, one of the manifestations is not having clear memories of early childhood or experiencing mental dissociation when facing triggering events. This dissociation can also be observed in a disconnection with their own bodies. It is particularly shown that a lot of victims of abuse do not exercise regularly and they have difficulties verbalizing and/or identifying their emotions. Ultimately eating disorders, depersonalization, flash-backs, and emotional eating to numb feelings triggered by feeling physical sensations can negatively affect the lives of individuals who have experienced early trauma in their lives.
All things aside Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation, Ayurveda and Agni can be spiritual ways to deal with these sensations in a safe manner, in my personal experience. I will develop this theme in my next blog next week.
Early trauma also affects the cognitive development, motor skills, and the effective development of social and emotional skills. The most evident cases of these effects can be seen in developmentally delayed children who are exposed to neglect and drug abuse by their parents in-utero and as babies. Preschools have a role to play in identifying, enacting intervention, and preventing any further abuse and neglect of children. The educational system in our nation needs to be more trauma-informed in order to help the young individuals that, through no fault of their own, may be facing relentless difficulties in their day to day endeavors.
As adult survivors of childhood abuse we express a sense of insecurity and anxiety about our environment and about others. This lack of confidence leads to a black-and-white view of the world and also to a sense of cynicism, isolation and anxiety that breeds our current society. It is my opinion that a society that ignores the victims of trauma and does not seek to establish therapeutic means to assist in their healing is a society that promotes violence and quick solutions. Hence the maladies of drug abuse, violence, homelessness, and mental health crises we currently face in our nation. An individual commitment to peace, justice, and the restoration of mental health to traumatized children from each one of us can pave the way to significant changes in the future.