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Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear

 Sound Medicine

brain regions
Last week, a report by the University of San Diego School of Law found that about 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. Traumatic childhood events can lead to mental health and behavioral problems later in life, explains psychiatrist and traumatic stress expert Bessel van der Kolk author of the recently published book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Children’s brains are literally shaped by traumatic experiences, which can lead to problems with anger, addiction, and even criminal activity in adulthood, says van der Kolk. Sound Medicine’s Barbara Lewis spoke with Dr. van der Kolk about his book. Here are highlights from the interview.

Sound Medicine: Can psychologically traumatic events change the physical structure of the brain?

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk: Yes, they can change the connections and activations in the brain. They shape the brain.

The human brain is a social organ that is shaped by experience, and that is shaped in order to respond to the experience that you’re having. So particularly earlier in life, if you’re in a constant state of terror; your brain is shaped to be on alert for danger, and to try to make those terrible feelings go away.

The brain gets very confused. And that leads to problems with excessive anger, excessive shutting down, and doing things like taking drugs to make yourself feel better. These things are almost always the result of having a brain that is set to feel in danger and fear.

As you grow up an get a more stable brain, these early traumatic events can still cause changes that make you hyper-alert to danger, and hypo-alert to the pleasures of everyday life.

SM: So are you saying that a child’s brain is much more malleable than an adult brain?

BK: A child’s brain is virtually nonexistent. It’s being shaped by experience. So yes, it’s extremely malleable.

SM: What is the mechanism by which traumatic events change the brain?

BK: The brain is formed by feedback from the environment. It’s a profoundly relational part of our body.

In a healthy developmental environment, your brain gets to feel a sense of pleasure, engagement, and exploration. Your brain opens up to learn, to see things, to accumulate information, to form friendships.

It’s about becoming safe to feel what you feel. When you’re traumatized you’re afraid of what you’re feeling, because your feeling is always terror, or fear or helplessness. I think these body-based techniques help you to feel what’s happening in your body, and to breathe into it and not run away from it. So you learn to befriend your experience.

But if you’re in an orphanage for example, and you’re not touched or seen, whole parts of your brain barely develop; and so you become an adult who is out of it, who cannot connect with other people, who cannot feel a sense of self, a sense of pleasure. If you run into nothing but danger and fear, your brain gets stuck on just protecting itself from danger and fear.

SM: Does trauma have a very different effect on children compared to adults?

BK: Yes, because of developmental issues. If you’re an adult and life’s been good to you, and then something bad happens, that sort of injures a little piece of the whole structure. But toxic stress in childhood from abandonment or chronic violence has pervasive effects on the capacity to pay attention, to learn, to see where other people are coming from, and it really creates havoc with the whole social environment.

And it leads to criminality, and drug addiction, and chronic illness, and people going to prison, and repetition of the trauma on the next generation.

SM: Are there effective solutions to childhood trauma?

BK: It is difficult to deal with but not impossible.

One thing we can do – which is not all that well explored because there hasn’t been that much funding for it – is neurofeedback, where you can actually help people to rewire the wiring of their brain structures.

Another method is putting people into safe environments and helping them to create a sense of safety inside themselves. And for that you can go to simple things like holding and rocking.

We just did a study on yoga for people with PTSD. We found that yoga was more effective than any medicine that people have studied up to now. That doesn’t mean that yoga cures it, but yoga makes a substantial difference in the right direction.

SM: What is it about yoga that helps?

BK: It’s about becoming safe to feel what you feel. When you’re traumatized you’re afraid of what you’re feeling, because your feeling is always terror, or fear or helplessness.  I think these body-based techniques help you to feel what’s happening in your body, and to breathe into it and not run away from it. So you learn to befriend your experience.

Sound Medicine – Childhood Trauma

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POWER & Inspiration

‘You, At Your Most Powerful’

I love this post ..

I’ve added a few photo’s below of people ‘in their power’ from EG facebook page but check out some of the rest, and read their inspiring comments to her.

I love that this woman is all about empowerment.

SilverGirl x

Post by Elizabeth Gilbert – Writer

Dear Ones –

I want you to do me a favor today.

I want you to post a picture of yourself taken at a moment when you felt like you were at your most powerful.

Here is a photo of me, for instance, at my most powerful.

It’s not me at my prettiest, and definitely not me at my most glamorous. I hadn’t washed my hair for a few days, and I was wearing my rattiest old tank top. I wasn’t hanging out anywhere exciting — not meditating in India, not eating my way through Italy, not walking on a beach in Bali, not climbing a mountain, not watching a sunset, not receiving an award, not meeting a famous person.

When this photo was taken, I was at home. I was doing research for my novel THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS. I was reading yet another scholarly treatise on 19th century botany, taking notes on some index cards that I’d purchased at Staples.

That’s what I did pretty much all that year — I just sat there, reading books, and studying 19th century botany, and taking notes, and dreaming of my novel.

When I look at this picture, I see a woman who is doing exactly what she wants to be doing with her life.

That’s what power means to me.

In fact, that’s the ONLY thing power means to me.

Power doesn’t have to be fierce. It doesn’t have to be aggressive or combative or cocky. It doesn’t have to tear anything down. It doesn’t have to be in your face. It doesn’t have to be a moment of fist-pumping victory. It doesn’t have to be expensive or monumental. It doesn’t have to make the world explode.

Generally speaking, the deepest kind of power doesn’t have much to do with anyone else at all. Nothing to do with status, nothing to do with reputation, nothing to do with winning.

Because you can achieve all that stuff (status, reputation, victory) and still feel lost as hell.

No, true power comes from standing in your own truth and walking on your own path.

That’s it.

When you are operating from that place (standing in your truth; walking on your path) you are the mightiest thing that has ever lived. Nothing can harm you.

And it usually doesn’t even feel exciting! In fact, the moments in my life where I have completely inhabited my own power have been incredibly relaxing — because there is nothing to fight, nothing to prove.

You just ARE, and you have no doubts about what you are, or where you are, or who you are.

Show me a moment when you felt that way.

I don’t care how long ago it was — let’s see those pictures!

Sometimes just looking at a picture of your most powerful self will remind you of what you’re supposed to be doing with your life, and how it’s supposed to feel.

Sometimes it will point you back toward your path, back toward your truth.

And if you haven’t felt powerful like this in a long time, maybe it’s time to start thinking about what it’s gonna take to get you back to that place, OK?

Because it’s still there. You can still access it.

Sometimes it’s a whole lot less complicated than you think.

ONWARD,
LG

In Their Power

Click on Images

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Are You Living In CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome)?

Do you feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overdrawn? Hopeless and you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry friend, we’ve been there, too.

Check out these tips and baby steps from FlyLady.net

I so need this ..

SilverGirl x

71 by maïlys sketchbook, via Flickr

What is FlyLady?

Step through the door and follow FlyLady as she weaves her way through housecleaning and organizing tips with homespun humor, daily musings about life and love.
Getting Started in Baby Steps

 

Shine your sink

This is your first task as a FlyBaby, and also the foundation of FlyLady. It all begins with a shiny sink!

The happy sense of fulfillment when you've successfully cleaned your sink.

Getting dressed to shoes

FlyLady believes that you feel and act differently when you are completely dressed with shoes on your feet, even if you’re not leaving the house. It makes you feel ready to go! Read FlyLady’s essay about why you should get dressed to shoes every day.

nice pair // brogues & socks & printed trousers illustrationBabySteps

As FlyLady says, “Your home did not get dirty in one day, and it will not get clean in a day either.”

Declutter 15 minutes a day

FlyLady’s principle is that anyone can do anything for 15 minutes. Just set a timer and declutter something for 15 minutes, and then stop when the timer goes off!

Stopwatch

Take regular breaks

Cleaning doesn’t need to be a marathon! Take 15-minute breaks after a round of decluttering to rest your mind, calm yourself, and plan what you want to do next.

Byron likes to read Shakespeare while sipping black tea heavily sweetened with honey {Amber Alexander}

FlyLady’s 11 commandments

FlyLady’s commandments that will help you begin to FLY.

hasyanomaki: cottoGood Luck!

SG x