Images public domain courtesy Pixabay

Childhood disrupted



Nakazawa's book is quite an accessible account of how development trauma impacts our health and well-being as adults. Indeed her heads up is that: "scientists are now calling the correlation between childhood trauma, brain architecture, and adult well-being the new psycho-biological 'Theory of Everything'."


In the process she does quite a thorough treatment of Felitti's ACE study. The ACE study from 1990 showed that at least two thirds of us have been somewhat traumatised during childhood. One or two examples of his data: if you have an ACE score of 7 you have a 4x   higher chance of heart disease. For each ACE Score an individual had, the chance of being hospitalized with an autoimmune disease in adulthood rises 20 percent. An ACE Score of 6 and higher shortened an individuals life-span by almost twenty years.


One point she makes is that the ACE study is really only the tip of the iceberg. For a person to remember childhood events, this only captures post verbal events. Thus trauma that occurs before you learn to speak, becomes much harder to access. Its actually felt rather than remembered. Things like birth, weaning and toilet training come to mind here.


Mild trauma seems to leave marks as well. Even subtle, common forms of childhood stress, eg., a hypercritical, narcissistic, or manic-depressive parent, can cause just as much damage as a parent who deals out angry punishments or is constantly absent.


As does stress absorbed from stressed parents in the womb. When you mother is stressed while you in vitro, the cortisol soup leads you have more vulnerability / sensitivity to stress when you an adult. Family dysfunction begets a neuro-biology inheritance, an inter-generational feedback.


She points out the terrible bind that children experience. As a child, you cant fight, because your caregivers are way bigger than you, you cant run, because you'll die on your own, which   only leaves dissociation as your only nervous system solution. That learned behavior you then use throughout your life to manage stress. In one light its effective because it keeps you alive so you can at least breed. But its obviously doesnt give you an effective toolset to live your life.


She gives a nice metaphor for this kind of development trauma conundrum:


"What if that bear is circling the house and you cant get away from it and you never know if its going to strike, or when, or what it will do next? There it is, threatening you every single day. Your emergency response system is set into overdrive over and over again. Your anxiety sensors are always going full blast".


Its also pointed out that time does not heal these wounds. Far from healing, Time conceals. And human beings convert traumatic emotional experiences in childhood into organic disease later in life. Often, these illnesses can be chronic and lifelong. Autoimmune disease. Heart disease. Chronic bowel disorders. Migraines. Persistent depression. Even today, doctors puzzle over these very conditions: why are they so prevalent; why are some patients more prone to them than others; and why are they so difficult to treat?"


Empathic stress is when being around stressed people makes you stressed.


Stress itself isnt harmful, its your reaction to it. Anxiety has its uses to prepare you for action. Its the pounding heart, which makes you breath harder to get more oxygen to the brainm heightens your awareness, and makes you seek support, which in turn raises your oxytocin level.


Harvard study: centenarians were found to be more likely to wobble grieve and move on.


And this parting line aptly describes what so many of us feel:


"Most kids who have suffered from toxic stress and adverse experiences do not recover without help. And as adults they are all too often still swimming unaware against the hard and invisible current of those emotional forces from long ago, as they try to make their way toward a happy and fulfilling life."


The solutions part of the book is not as strong, thus i suggest you look elsewhere for information on the subject of moving forward. But as a really readable low shame description of how we ended up in this mess, its great.



Whangarei, NZ
T- 028 8513 0580

© 2021 Life is Wonderful