For the human spirit is virtually indestructible, and its ability to rise from the ashes remains as long as the body draws breath, Alice Miller
Childhood Trauma & Sexual Abuse Process
The Childhood Trauma & Sexual Abuse Process is designed to detect and deal effectively with a very difficult and unfortunately common cause of compromised human health and dysfunctional behavior — especially as it relates to subsequent interpersonal relationships. The detrimental effects of childhood stress and trauma, unless effectively addressed, are ever there with the adult.
A well-studied but woefully underfunded area of science is that of the effects and prevention of childhood trauma and sexual abuse. Not only is this area underfunded it also borders on being an epidemic. Childhood abuse and infantile trauma are much more prevalent than commonly reported or acknowledged. Though serious malevolent abuse is a serious and growing problem, it is fortunately not universal. Yet, despite this, some degree of childhood trauma essentially is universal. This is because trauma is a natural byproduct of life—from the confinement in the womb, followed by the trauma of the birth into the physical world and then the very limited ability of the newborn to understand its environment, followed by the early learning years in which parents try to teach the child things it hasn't yet the capacity to understand or to which to attach appropriate meaning. 1
However, these are things that most children will recover from and learn by. Nevertheless, it is indicative that when using testing methodology developed by such practitioners and researchers as Susan McCrossin or Dr. Charles Krebs we find that the average adult efficiency of communication between the two hemispheres of the brain across the critical corpus callosum connections is generally less than 10 % we must logically ask what is going on in the population in general? And since these common communication blockages can usually be traced back to emotionally charged events and/or dysfunctional beliefs we might rightly assume that trauma or something akin to it is indeed essentially universal. 2
Life is indeed stressful and much of its stress is actually useful. Nor would we ever achieve our purposes in life without opposition and challenge. However, our present world and its culture is turning stress into an increasingly toxic potion that is not only compounded by the obvious things such as information overload and drugs but also by more pernicious emotional intrusions into health and wellbeing in forms that damage the developing self and interfere with appropriate acquisition of a mature agency powered by or stemming out of an adequate and consciously accessible knowledge base.
Sexual abuse of children is one of the worst of these destructive factors and has now well documented negative developmental effects both neurologically and behaviorally. Furthermore, the relatively new science of epigenetics clearly points to the fact that these negative effects are being passed down to future generations to a degree we never understood before and, conversely, that we are also inheriting the indiscretions of previous generations to a degree we never suspected before. See PROCESSESS-4 the Epigenome Modulation Process.
Sexual abuse has been found to change brain chemistry, predispose children to PTSD, have an effect upon brain size and certain neurological structures such as the amygdalae and hippocampus, create or contribute to chronic hypervigilence and anxiety, predispose to later promiscuity or frigidity, contribute to relationship problems, hamper quality of judgment, effect attitudes toward risk taking, interfere with learning, and being either overly aggressive or inordinately passive. Sexual abuse during the developmental years has been shown to hamper the proper maturation and development of the prefrontal cortex during the teen years — an essentially permanent development of an area of the brain required to make mature judgments and decisions. The studies indicating the above conclusions and many more are listed in the footnotes. These studies were also employed to assist in targeting all the necessary brain structures and pathways for the neurological component of this Process. 3
However, as suggested above, there is much more to this picture. Traumatic stress has been a component of almost everyone and abuse suffered at the hands of parents and siblings is, to some degree, the norm — whether it be a lack of proper bonding at birth that plays out in a negative way over the years, or a parent who is never there due to income needs or career demands or, for example, a cold hearted parent who is simply the product of his/her own inadequate family environment. This later example also segways into downstream generational components that translate earlier abuse in the client lineage so that it plays out in the current generation. Familial neglect and emotional exclusion compete with sexual abuse for detrimental effect in each generation — and unless rectified can become cumulative. This can also spill over into other forms of dysfunction such as birth defects and disease. See PROCESSES 1, the Generational Miasm Process.
The effects of childhood abuse and neglect are perverse, insidious and far reaching. The Childhood Trauma and Sexual Abuse Process deals with the combination of what are known in the literature as the traumagenic aspects which include the effects of traumatic sexualization, betrayal, powerlessness and stigmatization that are commonly associated with childhood abuse as well as the host of neurological and related behavioral effects that stem from alterations in such things as brain chemistry and neural structures. 4
Fortunately, all of these factors have energetic signatures and markers that are detectable and usually available to correction or improvement. Clearly dealing with such problems prior to puberty is best. Young children and their various mind/body processes are more resilient and amenable to change and early processing can forestall any impediments that will negatively interfere with the next phase of rapid maturation that the body schedules for the teen years. After puberty and the teen years neurological challenges have become more hardwired. They are still addressable but more problematic. Most of our work in this area is, unfortunately, with adults — many of whom were not aware of the origins of their anxieties and dysfunctions. 5
This Process may often be done in concert with other complimentary ones such as the Epigenome, Primal Fear, Life Purpose, Pain Body/Attractor Field and Addiction processes. The Childhood Trauma and Sexual Abuse Process may also be a precursor or compliment to Brain Integration.
1) Parents and others often expect young children to understand things that their undeveloped and unmyelinated neuronal pathways have not yet acquired the capacity to process. The result is infantile stress and possible misunderstanding that is still internalized. Some theorize that stressful situations experienced before synaptic mylination by the developing child will not be remembered and therefore have no effect. It is likely true that the child may not be able to bring to conscious awareness such expereinces but our clinical work suggests that such stress is definitely recorded in the celular structures and circuits of the mind/body and that trauma related to this period is very much alive and with active negative effects upon subconscious processes. This is particularly true of satanic ritual abuse (SRA) the effects of which are otherwise unavailable to the conscious mind of the child even into adulthood while remaining a wellspring of interference in relationships and life in general.
2) We have discussed elsewhere, particularly in the Life Process material, the challenging effects of the birth process. These are new and unique to the human spirit and, combined with the tremendous challenges that a fetus turned child present to the spirit confined in a seemingly non-cooperative bodily sheath are themselves necessarily frustrating or even traumatic. The spirit find itself encapsulated in a physical device that will not be fully functioning for quite some time. And by the time it is the spirit will have largely forgotten why it is here and what its purpose is. If early infancy and childhood were perceived as stressful, survival will likely become the dominant original plan in life. If life was relatively painless, pleasure might emerge as the dominant plan in life. The most successful course of life in an eternal perspective is to find and embrace one's life purpose.
3) The list of studies on the detrimental effects of child abuse are legion. Consequently the following data is summarized and the references abbreviated. Children exposed to trauma may experience chronically elevated corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) during pituitary development. Elevated CRH may lead to pituitary hypertrophy, which may be most pronounced during puberty. Chronic exposure to CRH, in turn, can result in down regulation of pituitary CRH receptors over time. This down regulation may be an adaptive mechanism that regulates pituitary hypertrophy. An adaptive response to constantly elevated CRH must be down regulation of CRH receptors, or resultant high cortisol levels which would result in medical illness and gross damage to brain structures (Sapolsky, 2000). Such a mechanism could explain the complex phenomena of low ACTH but elevated cortisol levels seen in studies of abused pre-pubertal and latency-age children, and normal and low cortisol levels, but elevated central CRH levels exhibited in many studies of traumatized adolescents and adults. In support of this idea, low urinary cortisol secretion has been found in adults with PTSD secondary to surviving the Holocaust as youth (Yehuda et al., 1995). The limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (LHPA) axis, the major neuroendocrine stress response system, is also involved in the pathophysiology of PTSD and childhood trauma stress. Elevated levels of CRH has been consistently reported in traumatized individuals (Southwick, Yehuda, & Wang, 1998). Adults with PTSD, maltreated children with symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders, and pediatric patients with abuse-related PTSD evidence this dysregulation (for review see De Bellis, 2001). Multiple neurotransmitter systems and neuroendocrine axes are activated during the acute stresses of child abuse experiences. Such stress exposure affects the neurotransmitter systems, neuroendocrine system, and immune system which are interconnected to modulate response to both routine stimuli as well as acute and chronic stressors. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) or catecholamine system, the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (LHPA) axis, and the serotonin system are the three major neurobiological stress response systems implicated in mood, anxiety, and impulse control disorders (for review see Vermetten & Bremner, 2002). As arousal, stress response, behavioral and emotional regulation, and neurodevelopment are all dependent on these systems many of the acute and chronic symptoms associated with child abuse and neglect arise in conjunction with alterations of these systems. Neuroimaging of adults support the hypotheses that the medial prefrontal regions, which are responsible for executive functions, are hyporesponsive, and the amygdala is hyperresponsive in PTSD (Bremner et al., 1999a; Bremner et al., 1999b; Lanius et al., 2002; Shin et al., 1999; Shin et al., 2004; Shin et al., 2001). The medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala are thought to be reciprocally related (Hamner, Lorberbaum, & George, 1999; Stefanacci & Amaral, 2002). When confronted with traumatic reminders during a brain scan, medial prefrontal cortical dysfunction is seen in adults with PTSD, but not in traumatized adults without PTSD (Bremner et al., 1999a; Shin et al., 1999; Shin et al., 2004). In adults, PTSD is associated with specific neurostructural differences, such as a smaller hippocampus (Sapolsky, 2000). Abuse-related PTSD is associated with global adverse brain development (Carrion et al., 2001; De Bellis et al., 1999c; De Bellis et al., 2002b; Teicher et al., 1997).Myelinated areas of the brain appear particularly susceptible to the effects of early exposure to significant levels of stress chemicals. Studies indicate adverse brain structure and development as a consequence of abuse resulting in PTSD or subthreshold symptoms of PTSD. (Teicher et al. 1997) provided the initial data that suggested early childhood trauma had a deleterious effect on the development of the corpus callosum. The size of the corpus callosum was affected by early adverse experience, and this effect appeared to be somewhat gender dependent. These researchers found a reduction in the middle portion of the corpus callosum in children who were hospitalized at psychiatric facilities with documented histories of trauma, including abuse or neglect, as compared to psychiatric controls. Moreover, these findings were more significant in males. Studies have found a reduction in the midsagittal size of the corpus callosum and in parallel to a decrease in white (but not grey) matter volume in the prefrontal and parietal cortices. These decreases occurred in conjunction with cognitive impairments, decreased total midsagittal area of the corpus callosum and enlarged right, left, and total lateral ventricles. The detrimental effects of abuse, neglect or trauma on the corpus callosum (including size, capacity and throughput), lateral ventricles, synaptic myelination and any related cognitive impairment are to be fully identified in both current and historical context and rectified within optimum process capacity and DM/BT standards (including retroactive time/space matrix processing as needed). Male children with PTSD had smaller measurements of the corpus callosum and a trend for smaller total brain volume than female children with PTSD. Again, these findings suggested that males may be more vulnerable to the effects of severe stress on brain structures than females; however, adverse effects were found regardless of gender. Additionally, it was noted that the intracranial volume was decreased by 7% and total brain volume by 8% in PTSD subjects compared to controls. Earlier onset of abuse and longer duration of abuse correlated with smaller intracranial volume. See also footnote #4 below.
4) See D. Finkelhor, A. Browne: The Traumatic Impact of Child Sexual Abuse: A Conceptualization , Family Violence Research Program, University of New Hampshire, A framework is proposed for a more systematic understanding of the effects of child sexual abuse. Four traumagenic dynamics – traumatic sexualization, betrayal, stigmatization, and powerlessness – are identified as the core of the psychological injury inflicted by abuse. These dynamics can be used to make assessments of victimized children and to anticipate problems to which these children may be vulnerable subsequently. Implications for research are also considered. A_conceptualization.
5) Longitudinal studies have demonstrated regionally specific nonlinear pre-adolescent increases followed by post-adolescent decreases in cortical grey matter (Giedd et al., 1999a; Thompson et al., 2000). Neurons generally enlarge with age (Blinkov & Glezer, 1968). Axons become thicker and the number of synaptic boutons increases throughout life; axons are presumably involved in the mechanism of learning (Werry, 1991). From ages five to 18 years, myelination by oligodendrocytes is most influential in determining brain size (Giedd et al., 1996). The most dramatic increase in myelination, reflected by the corpus callosum, which connects major subdivisions of the cerebral cortex, occurs from the ages of six months to three years and continues into the third decade (Giedd et al., 1999b; Paus et al., 2001; Thompson et al., 2000). Subcortical grey matter and limbic system structures (e.g., hippocampus and amygdalae), which are involved in the regulation of emotions and memory, increase in volume nonlinearly and peak at age 16.6 years in longitudinal studies (Giedd et al., 1999a). The prefrontal cortex, which subserves executive cognitive functions, also continues its development into the third decade (Alexander & Goldman, 1978; Fuster, 1989; Goldman, 1971). Sex steroids influence neurodevelopment throughout the lifespan (for review see McEwen, 1981). These latter and other findings indicate that beneficial neurogenisis and brain plasticity are still available for rectification development and processing well beyond the developmental years.