TED Published on Feb 17, 2015 Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.
Understanding is seeking. Questioning is a seeking. Understanding is a platform of where to go next. From the platform one now has the understanding, information, knowledge, and idea (the biggest part) to approach a solution. A solution is never overnight (especially in anything to do with health and especially stemming from childhood). Having an idea and knowledge and information and a voice and a platform now then allows one to create application of solutions found. This is the kind of person we need in the world.
Diabetes is insane. Asthma is insane. Child allergies are insane. Autism is insane. diseases from HIV to Ebola to H1-N1 to the flu we can’t control are all insane in numbers. We write it off to higher population and traveling. But perhaps there is more to it. Nipping it in the bud won’t be by stopping travel, or staying indoors and away from all people during flu season, or even JUST putting down the sugar. If that were the case we would have seen diabetes go down in the age of mothers taking away corn, wheat and soy. Being past the era of the 70’s/80’s hostess cupcakes in our cabinet. And we would have seen less autism by now. Not more…it’s been decades of mom’s talking about this now. It is no longer something new, yet the birth rate of it hasn’t started slowing down. Flu and other diseases would be down because of modern medicines attributions of being high by vaccine and knowledge and safer sex and even abortion (in cases such as HIV).
So, maybe there is something beyond all that of which is handed us to take care of the symptoms when we still rather ignore the cause.
Some of the worst diseases come from some of the most War-Torn countries, and from the most worn-torn generations of them. Mental illness in America is higher of the generation of children stemming from WWII and Vietnam and Gulf War and now the 9/11 war Veterans and protestors and civil rights timelines and children of Jewish WWII survivors and more.
If somebody did a study beginning now of the refugee’s of Syria and followed the children from say 5-10 years of age to mid-thirties, I bet it would be the best study conducted of this to date. Except there is one factor. Syrian refugees pretty much know that they are and can leave. There is hope among the children. The war there has always believed to soon end.
But we could take a second study in somewhere in a part of the continent of Africa that not only is in freshly bloomed war today but has been for decades and there is, let us be honest here, likely less chance of an end anytime soon. The children that were 5-10 years old almost three decades ago could be a study as well as beginning with a comparison to Syrian and American children of 5-10 years old today and through until their mid-thirties.
Each individual household in America is a harder breakdown. As the subject of more recent studies go, some kids got spanked and turned out fine, some not so much and are dying from heroin now. Child molestation turns often to drugs and prostitution in America, this is fact. Raised in a domestic abuse household creates a higher chance for a male to become an abuser and a female to marry into it. But the overall is a lot harder to pinpoint a trauma comparison rather than an individual basis. And demographics vary widely and would affect (single parenthood, drug parents, parents with mental depression or other, white neighborhoods, Chicago black neighborhoods, black & White north vs black & white south as also East/West and Middle, gang territory or not, public school vs private and so forth. Children in war-torn countries or the continent of Africa (whichever portion at the time is more the same demographic affected at that time/Say Somalia, Syria, And say North or South Korea, (all in comparison of America) are more likely to be much more the same demographic in about every category (same religion/both parents/same type and level of schooling, same type of trauma).
However, the studies within America childhood trauma alone could be amazing in vast directions and large enough groups. It would take a lot for one group to conduct all of these studies and you would want it to be all one group, or all of the same groups working on each of the same projects for their own varied outcome to be evenly found. Five different groups doing five different area’s will only come out with five different results with a few similarities, even if enough of them. In America, each home is a bit overall different where-as in or from a war-torn country the overall situation is THE focus issue. Not too many Jewish child survivors of WWII think back to that one time their sister got a better birthday present than they did over being in a concentration camp.
Sadly there are several situations of childhood trauma to choose from to study, as well as compare and all within the same generations of technology and knowledge. But starting as an adult now, in understanding your own past we could begin as individuals and with these types of studies done now to begin not only to understand but to learn to unwind the tangle of issues and to begin to make better decisions and fewer mistakes, maybe even just mistakes with less weight and less repeat. As far as that part of it goes. Perhaps with better understanding, we could seek care for mental health before it is too late, and even do our best to counter physical health. and, I spent seven months with the time to question myself “I don’t DO bad things, but I KEEP ending up in bad situations. WHY? And why do I make bad decisions? Where am I repeating even when I think I am not and work very hard not to? And then, how can I change this?” I personally have said in life “ok, don’t’ make that mistake” and somehow in a long roundabout way, if it isn’t that exact mistake, it seems to come to another or the same even if another form and from another rout. ALL mistakes are, in the end, the same with just another name. I KNOW better and DO avoid it and yet….so I sat for a LONG seven months and two days meditating on the why, when, where, what, how, (the who being me as regardless of what “happened” TO me, it was ME it KEPT happening to. I was the one who was making the mistakes.I looked back at ALL big and small decisions and ALL big and small mistakes that got me to where I was sitting for those seven months with a lot of time on my hands to think. I was in jail. And this brought me to the NOW. As in what to do now, how to really fix the problems, not just THINK I was? To make better decisions (which was my big come back to focal question). WHERE I could find in my life that what I had been trying to avoid always became exactly what I did (in one form or another…one mistake for another mistake just like using one drug over another drug way of thought).
None of this, for me, is to lay blame. But to figure out the path of now. It is like trying to stop a wound from bleeding but not knowing where the bleeding is coming from. One you know, you can usually make the fixes needed. This is not a Ted Talk of “Here is an un-fixable problem” in my view, it is a map to give you directions to an eventual destination. This is only one of the very few pieces/studies and more coming out about how much your childhood (and even further in some cases) affects you now and your future. It is an understanding and an understanding is only a beginning.
I listened to Roxane Gay say “I wrote myself back together.” My writing is a way of crea, ting a map for me. This is why much of my writing is memoir literature, Literary realism, though I have a love and a secret side of mythology, and literary fiction. But even in my fiction each piece is a part of my own map on another level and sometimes mythology rings a little close as well, being some sort of connection felt.
And, though not everyone has a seven-month jail stint to stare at a wall and give yourself time to think and reflect real hard, perhaps some quiet time in a cabin and a clean notebook and a favorite pen could work for some people. And maybe writing isn’t the way of everyone. But I do believe in people finding their therapy. Their passions separate from that even if intertwined, and I am pro-actual therapist as sometimes having someone who can make decisions or help to lead you to better ones when you aren’t in a place to do them all by yourself is exactly what you might need. And a therapist might be a one time gig in your life, or an on and off someone to talk to in confidence, and lack of judgement. Whatever fits you. As adults we might have scars from our childhoods. We might NEED understanding. But we also have to DO something. And creating our map from where it started to show us where we are going in in our hands and tools like the talk in this video are available to us. Each person’s “map” might be different and done in their own way. Mine has been reflection and writing for the most part. And I will always have questions that can’t be answered or answers that can’t be understood. That takes a bit more of our own mapping of finding ways to work with that.
In doing this and in learning how the childhood affects adults, perhaps the cycles can eventually be broken. Less domestic abusers, less domestically abused. Less prostitution or loss to drugs, less mental instability and less many small mistakes in our decisions that can add up to very large consequences and heartache.
And perhaps not. And likely not all “issues” will ever go away Or all trauma “healed.” But here, this video is a puzzle piece of understanding and my commentary is only an idea.
Published on Feb 17, 2015
Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.
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