Changing the Landscape of Understanding Human Development
This is Part Three of a three-part overview of the Center for Disease Control’s Adverse Childhood Experience Study — the ACE Study. “Adverse childhood experiences” has become a buzzword in social services, public health, education, juvenile justice, mental health, pediatrics, criminal justice, medical research and even business. Many people say that just as you should know your cholesterol score, so you should know your ACE score. But what is the ACE Study? And do you know your own ACE score?
In the last 14 years (at the time of this writing), Drs. Robert Anda, Vincent Felitti and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published more than 60 papers about the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Other researchers have referenced their work more than 1,500 times. Anda and Felitti have flown around the U.S., Canada and Europe to give hundreds of speeches.
Their inquiry “changed the landscape,” says Dr. Frank Putnam, director of the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics. “It changed the landscape because of the pervasiveness of ACEs in the huge number of public health problems, expensive public health problems —- depression, substance abuse, STDs, cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes.”
The ACE Study became even more significant with the publication of parallel research that provided the link between why something that happened to you when you were a kid could land you in the hospital at age 50. The stress of severe and chronic childhood trauma – such as being regularly slapped or punched, constantly belittled and berated, watching your father beat up your mother – releases hormones that physically damage a child’s developing brain.
Fight, Flight or Freeze hormones are good, but become Toxic when they’re turned on for too long
Flight, fight or freeze hormones work really well to help us accelerate when we’re being chased by a vicious dog with big teeth, fight when we’re cornered, or turn to stone and stop breathing to escape detection by a predator. But they become toxic when they’re turned on for too long.
As San Francisco pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris recently explained to host Ira Glass on the NPR radio program, This American Life, if you’re in a forest and see a bear, a very efficient fight or flight system instantly floods your body with adrenaline and cortisol and shuts off the thinking portion of your brain that would stop to consider other options. This is very helpful if you’re in a forest and you need to run from a bear. “The problem is when that bear comes home from the bar every night,” she said.
If a bear threatens you every single day, your emergency response system is activated over and over and over again. You’re always ready to fight or flee from the bear, but the part of your brain – the prefrontal cortex – that’s called upon to diagram a sentence or do math becomes stunted, because, in brains, emergencies – such as fleeing bears – take precedence over doing math.
For Harris’ patients who had four or more categories of adverse childhood experiences “their odds of having learning or behavior problems in school were 32 times as high as kids who had no adverse childhood experiences,” she told Glass.
Together, the two discoveries – the epidemiology of the ACE Study and the brain research — reveal a story too compelling to ignore:
Children with toxic stress live much of their lives in fight, flight or fright (freeze) mode.
Children with toxic stress live much of their lives in fight, flight or fright (freeze) mode. They respond to the world as a place of constant danger. With their brains overloaded with stress hormones and unable to function appropriately, they can’t focus on learning. They fall behind in school or fail to develop healthy relationships with peers or create problems with teachers and principals because they are unable to trust adults. Some kids do all three. With despair, guilt and frustration pecking away at their psyches, they often find solace in food, alcohol, tobacco, methamphetamine, inappropriate sex, high-risk sports, and/or work and over-achievement.
They don’t regard these coping methods as problems. Consciously or unconsciously, they use them as solutions to escape from depression, anxiety, anger, fear and shame.
What all this means, says Anda, is that we need to prevent adverse childhood experiences and, at the same time, change our systems – educational, criminal justice, healthcare, mental health, public health, workplace – so that we don’t further traumatize someone who’s already traumatized. You can’t do one or the other and hope to make any progress.
“Dr. Putnam is right — ACEs changed the landscape,” Anda says. “Or perhaps the many publications from the ACE Study opened our eyes to see the truth of the landscape. ACEs create a “chronic public health disaster”that until recently has been hidden by our limited vision. Now we see that the biologic impacts of ACEs transcend the traditional boundaries of our siloed health and human service systems. Children affected by ACEs appear in all human service systems throughout the lifespan — childhood, adolescence, and adulthood — as clients with behavioral, learning, social, criminal, and chronic health problems.”
But our society has tended to treat the abuse, maltreatment, violence and chaotic experiences of our children as an oddity instead of commonplace, as the ACE Study revealed, notes Anda. And our society believes that these experiences are adequately dealt with by emergency response systems such as child protective services, criminal justice, foster care, and alternative schools. “These services are needed and are worthy of support — but they are a dressing on a greater wound,” he says.
“A hard look at the public health disaster calls for the both the prevention and treatment ACEs,” he continues. “This will require integration of educational, criminal justice, healthcare, mental health, public health, and corporate systems that involves sharing of knowledge and resources that will replace traditional fragmented approaches to burden of adverse childhood experiences in our society.”
As Williamson, the epidemiologist who introduced Felitti and Anda, and also worked on the ACE Study, says: “It’s not just a social worker’s problem. It’s not just a psychologist’s problem. It’s not just a pediatrician’s problem. It’s not just a juvenile court judge’s problem.” In other words, this is everybody’s problem.
According to a CDC study released earlier this year, just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment costs $124 billion over the lifetime of the traumatized children. The researchers based their calculations on only confirmed cases of physical, sexual and verbal abuse and neglect, which child maltreatment experts say is a small percentage of what actually occurs.
The Most Hopeless of Lives Turned Around
You’d think the overwhelming amount of money spent on the fallout of adverse childhood experiences would have inspired the medical community, the public health community and federal, state and local governments to integrate this knowledge and fund programs that have been proven to prevent ACEs, and develop new approaches. But adoption of concepts from the ACE Study and the brain research has been remarkably slow and uneven.
On the federal level, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – probably the largest federal agency you never heard of – launched the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in 2001, and the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC) in 2005. Much of the work focused on stress from individual traumatic events, or individual types of child abuse; only recently has there been a focus on dysfunctional families or changing systems that engage those families to become trauma-informed, i.e., not further traumatizing already traumatized people, as so many of our systems do.
Until recently, the medical community practically ignored the ACE Study, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement recommended that its members screen for toxic stress in their patients. With some local exceptions, the public health community has not embraced it. In fact, the CDC — the one agency you might think would use its own research to reorganize how it approaches prevention of alcohol, obesity, sexually transmitted diseases and smoking — has whittled down funding for the ACE Study to practically nothing, and nobody’s working on it full time.
However, on a local and state level, there’s been considerably more action. Washington was the first state to embrace the ACE Study and the research on children’s developing brains, when its Family Policy Council distributed the information through a statewide network of 42 communities. Over three years, 18 states did their own ACE surveys, with results similar to the CDC study.
Some cities — including Philadelphia and San Diego — have set up ACE task forces or guide teams. One — Tarpon Springs, FL — declared itself a trauma-informed community. Trauma-informed practices are popping up around the U.S., Canada, and countries in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America in schools, prisons, mental clinics and hospitals, a few pediatric practices, crisis nurseries, local public health departments, homeless shelters, at least one hospital emergency room, substance-abuse clinics, child welfare services, youth services, domestic violence shelters, rehab centers for seniors, residential treatment centers for girls and boys, and courtrooms.
In these dozens of organizations, agencies and communities, the results of the new approach are nothing less than astounding: the most hopeless of lives turned around, parents speaking “ACEs” and determined not to pass on their high ACEs to their children, and a significant reduction in costs of health care, social services and criminal justice.
Written by Jane Ellen Stevens Huffington Post
Next Steps: Finding YOUR ACE Score… Take the test yourself on Tues July 12th
What do you do when you’ve got something important to tell the world,
but the world thinks it’s stupid?
This is Part Two of a three-part overview of the Center for Disease Control’s Adverse Childhood Experience Study — the ACE Study. “Adverse childhood experiences” has become a buzzword in social services, public health, education, juvenile justice, mental health, pediatrics, criminal justice, medical research and even business. Many people say that just as you should know your cholesterol score, so you should know your ACE score. But what is the ACE Study? And do you know your own ACE score?
So, if you were Dr. Vincent Felitti, chief of Kaiser Permanente’s revolutionary Department of Preventive Medicine in San Diego, CA, whom would you pick as your first audience to reveal your stunning findings that many morbidly obese people in an obesity clinic had been sexually abused during their childhood? A group relatively informed about obesity that would greet the new information with extreme interest, praise and applause? Natch.
So, in 1990, Felitti flew to Atlanta to give a speech to the members – many of them psychologists and psychiatrists — of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. The audience listened quietly and politely. When he finished, one of the experts stood up and blasted him. “He told me I was naïve to believe my patients, that it was commonly understood by those more familiar with such matters that these patient statements were fabrications to provide a cover explanation for failed lives!”
At dinner, Dr. David Williamson, an epidemiologist from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sat next to the perplexed Felitti. Williamson was intrigued. He leaned over and “told me that people could always find fault with a study of a couple of hundred people,” says Felitti, “but not if there were thousands, and from a general population, not a subset like an obesity program. I turned to him and said, ‘That’s not a problem.’ “
Williamson invited Felitti to meet with a small group of researchers at the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Robert Anda, a medical epidemiologist was among them. If Felitti is the model for a TV show featuring a wise and stately chief physician who sits straight, stands straight, and keeps his personal feelings in check, Anda would be the dashing, young, brilliant researcher who wears his tie askew, slumps in chairs, laughs easily, loves to joke around, and puts his heart on his sleeve for all to see.
Anda began his career as a physician, but became intrigued with epidemiology and public health. When he met Felitti, he had been studying how depression and feelings of hopelessness affect coronary heart disease. He noticed that depression and hopelessness weren’t random. “I became interested in going deeper, because I thought that there must be something beneath the behaviors that were generating them,” says Anda.
Kaiser Permanente in San Diego was a perfect place to do a mega-study. More than 50,000 members came through the departmenteach year, for a comprehensive medical evaluation.Every person who came through the Department of Preventive Medicine filled out a detailed biopsychosocial (biomedical, psychological, social) medical questionnaire prior to undergoing a complete physical examination and extensive laboratory tests. It would be easy to add another set of questions. In two waves, Felitti and Anda asked 26,000 people who came through the department “if they would be interested in helping us understand how childhood events might affect adult health,” says Felitti. Of those, 17,421 agreed.
Before they added the new trauma-oriented questions, Anda spent a year pouring through the research literature to learn about childhood trauma, and focused on the eight major types that patients had mentioned so often in Felitti’s original study and whose individual consequences had been studied by other researchers. These eight included three types of abuse — sexual, verbal and physical. And five types of family dysfunction — a parent who’s mentally ill or alcoholic, a mother who’s a domestic violence victim, a family member who’s been incarcerated, a loss of a parent through divorce or abandonment. He later added emotional and physical neglect, for a total of 10 types of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.
The initial surveys began in 1995 and continued through 1997, with the participants followed subsequently for more than fifteen years. “Everything we’ve published comes from that baseline survey of 17,421 people,” says Anda, as well as what was learned by following those people for so long.
I saw how much people had suffered and I wept
When the first results of the survey were due to come in, Anda was at home in Atlanta. Late in the evening, he logged into his computer to look at the findings. He was stunned. “I wept,” he says. “I saw how much people had suffered and I wept.”
This was the first time that researchers had looked at the effects of several types of trauma, rather than the consequences of just one. What the data revealed was mind-boggling.
- The first shocker: There was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as mental illness, doing time in prison, and work issues, such as absenteeism.
- The second shocker: About two-thirds of the adults in the study had experienced one or more types of adverse childhood experiences. Of those, 87 percent had experienced 2 or more types. This showed that people who had an alcoholic father, for example, were likely to have also experienced physical abuse or verbal abuse. In other words, ACEs usually didn’t happen in isolation.
- The third shocker: More adverse childhood experiences resulted in a higher risk of medical, mental and social problems as an adult.
To explain this, Anda and Felitti developed a scoring system for ACEs. Each type of adverse childhood experience counted as one point. If a person had none of the events in her or his background, the ACE score was zero. If someone was verbally abused thousands of times during his or her childhood, but no other types of childhood trauma occurred, this counted as one point in the ACE score. If a person experienced verbal abuse, lived with a mentally ill mother and an alcoholic father, his ACE score was three.
Things start getting serious around an ACE score of 4. Compared with people with zero ACEs, those with four categories of ACEs had a 240 percent greater risk of hepatitis, were 390 percent more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis), and a 240 percent higher risk of a sexually-transmitted disease.
They were twice as likely to be smokers, 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide, seven times more likely to be alcoholic, and 10 times more likely to have injected street drugs.
People with high ACE scores are more likely to be violent, to have more marriages, more broken bones, more drug prescriptions, more depression, more auto-immune diseases, and more work absences.
“Some of the increases are enormous and are of a size that you rarely ever see in health studies or epidemiological studies. It changed my thinking dramatically,” says Anda.
One in six people had an ACE score of 4 or more, and one in nine had an ACE score of 5 or more. This means that every physician probably sees several high ACE score patients every day, notes Felitti. “Typically, they are the most difficult, though the underpinnings will rarely be recognized.”
The kicker was this: The ACE Study participants were average Americans. Eighty percent were white (including Latino), 10 percent black and 10 percent Asian. They were middle-class, middle-aged, and 74 percent were college-educated. Since they were members of Kaiser Permanente, they all had jobs and great health care. Their average age was 57.
As Anda has said: “It’s not just ‘them’. It’s us.”
~Written by Jane Ellen Stevens Huffington Post
Next: Part Three: Changing the Landscape of Understanding Human Development. I will be posting Part #3 next Tuesday, July 5th. I invite you to come back and learn more…
I’d love to hear your thoughts and start a conversation. Please scroll down
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study –
probably the most important public health study you never heard of –
emerged from an obesity clinic on a quiet street in San Diego in 1985
This is Part One of a three-part overview of the Center for Disease Control’s Adverse Childhood Experience Study — the ACE Study. “Adverse childhood experiences” has become a buzzword in social services, public health, education, juvenile justice, mental health, pediatrics, criminal justice, medical research and even business. Many people say that just as you should know your cholesterol score, so you should know your ACE score. But what is the ACE Study? And do you know your own ACE score?
It was 1985, and Dr. Vincent Felitti was mystified. The physician, chief of Kaiser Permanente’s revolutionary Department of Preventive Medicine in San Diego, CA, couldn’t figure out why, each year for the last five years, more than half of the people in his obesity clinic dropped out. Although people who wanted to shed as little as 30 pounds could participate, the clinic was designed for people who were 100 to 600 pounds overweight.
Felitti cut an imposing, yet dashing, figure. Tall, straight-backed, not a silver hair out of place, penetrating eyes, he was a doctor whom patients trusted implicitly, spoke of reverentially and rarely called by his first name. The preventive medicine department he created had become an international beacon for efficient and compassionate care. Every year, more than 50,000 people were screened for diseases that tests and machines could pick up before symptoms appeared. It was the largest medical evaluation site in the world. It was reducing health care costs before reducing health care costs was cool.
But the 50-percent dropout rate in the obesity clinic that Felitti started in 1980 was driving him crazy. A cursory review of all the dropouts’ records astonished him — they’d all been losing weight when they left the program, not gaining. That made no sense whatsoever. Why would people who were 300 pounds overweight lose 100 pounds, and then drop out when they were on a roll?
The situation “was ruining my attempts to build a successful program,” he recalls, and in typical Type-A fashion, he was determined to find out why.
The mystery turned into a 25-year quest involving researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more than 17,000 members of Kaiser Permanente’s San Diego care program. It would reveal that adverse experiences in childhood were very common, even in the white middle-class, and that these experiences are linked to every major chronic illness and social problem that the United States grapples with – and spends billions of dollars on.
In 1985, however, all that Felitti knew was that the obesity clinic had a serious problem. He decided to dig deep into the dropouts’ medical records. This revealed a couple of surprises: All the dropouts had been born at a normal weight. They didn’t gain weight slowly over several years.
“I had assumed that people who were 400, 500, 600 pounds would be getting heavier and heavier year after year. In 2,000 people, I did not see it once,” says Felitti. When they gained weight, it was abrupt and then they stabilized. If they lost weight, they regained all of it or more over a very short time.
Solving the Mystery
But this knowledge brought him no closer to solving the mystery. So, he decided to do face-to-face interviews with a couple hundred of the dropouts. He used a standard set of questions for everyone. For weeks, nothing unusual came of the inquiries. No revelations. No clues.
The turning point in Felitti’s quest came by accident. The physician was running through yet another series of questions with yet another obesity program patient: How much did you weigh when you were born? How much did you weigh when you started first grade? How much did you weigh when you entered high school? How old were you when you became sexually active? How old were you when you married?
“I misspoke,” he recalls, probably out of discomfort in asking about when she became sexually active. Although physicians are given plenty of training in examining body parts without hesitation, he says, they’re given little support in talking about what patients do with some of those body parts. “Instead of asking, “How old were you when you were first sexually active,” I asked, “How much did you weigh when you were first sexually active?’ The patient, a woman, answered, ‘Forty pounds.”
He didn’t understand what he was hearing. He misspoke the question again. She gave the same answer, burst into tears and added, “It was when I was four years old, with my father.”
He suddenly realized what he had asked.
“I remembered thinking, ‘This is only the second incest case I’ve had in 23 years of practice’,” Felitti recalls. “I didn’t know what to do with the information. About 10 days later, I ran into the same thing. It was very disturbing. Every other person was providing information about childhood sexual abuse. I thought, ‘This can’t be true. People would know if that were true. Someone would have told me in medical school.’ “
Worried that he was injecting some unconscious bias into the questioning, he asked five of his colleagues to interview the next 100 patients in the weight program. “They turned up the same things,” he says.
Of the 286 people whom Felitti and his colleagues interviewed, most had been sexually abused as children. As startling as this was, it turned out to be less significant than another piece of the puzzle that dropped into place during an interview with a woman who had been raped when she was 23 years old. In the year after the attack, she told Felitti that she’d gained 105 pounds.
“As she was thanking me for asking the question,” says Felitti, “she looks down at the carpet, and mutters, ‘Overweight is overlooked, and that’s the way I need to be.’”
During that encounter, a realization struck Felitti. It’s a significant detail that many physicians, psychologists, public health experts and policymakers haven’t yet grasped:The obese people that Felitti was interviewing were 100, 200, 300, 400 pounds overweight, but they didn’t see their weight as a problem. To them, eating was a solution. (There’s a reason an IV drug user calls a dose a “fix”.)
One way it was a solution is that it made them feel better. Eating soothed their anxiety, fear, anger or depression – it worked like alcohol or tobacco or methamphetamines. Not eating increased their anxiety, depression, and fear to levels that were intolerable.
The other way it helped was that, for many people, just being obese solved a problem. In the case of the woman who’d been raped, she felt as if she were invisible to men. In the case of a man who’d been beaten up when he was a skinny kid, being fat kept him safe, because when he gained hundreds of pounds, nobody bothered him. In the case of another woman — whose father told her while he was raping her when she was 7 years old that the only reason he wasn’t doing the same to her 9-year-old sister was because she was fat — being obese protected her. Losing weight increased their anxiety, depression, and fear to levels that were intolerable.
For some people, both motivations were in play.
The Mind Shift – more understanding about how millions of people escape fear, anxiety, depression and anger
Felitti didn’t know this at the time, but this was the more important result — the mind-shift, the new meme that would begin spreading far beyond a weight clinic in San Diego. It would provide more understanding about the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world who use biochemical coping methods – such as alcohol, marijuana, food, sex, tobacco, violence, work, methamphetamine, thrill sports – to escape intense fear, anxiety, depression, anger.
Public health experts, social service workers, educators, therapists and policy makers commonly regard addiction as a problem. Some, however, are beginning to grasp that turning to drugs is a normal response to serious childhood trauma, and that telling people who smoke or overeat or overwork that these are bad for them and that they should stop doesn’t sway or convince them when those approaches provide a temporary, but gratifying solution.
Ella Herman was one of the people who participated in the obesity clinic, but had dropped out because any weight she lost, she regained. Herman owned a successful childcare center in San Diego. Herman said she was sexually abused by two uncles and a school bus driver; the first time occurred when she was four years old. She married a man who abused her repeatedly and tried to kill her. With the help of her family, she fled with her children to San Diego, where she later remarried.
“I imagine I’ve lost 100 pounds about six times,” she recalled. “And gained it back.” Every time she lost weight and a man commented on her beauty, she became terrified and began eating. But she never understood the connection until she attended a meeting at which Felitti talked about what he’d learned from patients. At this time, Herman was just over five feet tall and weighed nearly 300 pounds.
“He had a room full of people,” she said. “The more he talked the more I cried, because he was touching every aspect of my life. Somebody in the world understands, I thought.”
Herman later sent a letter to Felitti. “I want to thank you for caring enough about people to read all those charts and finding out what happens to all of us who are molested, raped and abused in childhood,” she wrote. “…I suffered for years. The pain became so great I was thinking of jumping off the San Diego Bay Bridge….How many people may have taken their life because they had no program to turn to? How many lives can be saved by this program?”
~Written by Jane Ellen Stevens Huffington Post
Part Two: What do you do when you’ve got something important to tell the world, but the world thinks it’s stupid? I will be posting Part #2 next Tuesday, June 28th. I invite you to come back and learn more…
Here’s my favorite part, we now have EFT as a solution…
EFT practitioners all over the world have been erasing traumas
associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences for more than 20 years
Gary Craig, founder of EFT wrote about the ACE Study in his website, “The ACE Study and similar research is finally coming to the conclusion that unresolved childhood emotional issues affect adult health. However, practitioners of EFT have known this since 1995. Furthermore, EFT practitioners all over the world have been erasing traumas associated with adverse childhood experiences for more than a decade” [to date it’s been over 20 years.] He continued to explain that, “Although most conventional physicians have yet to learn about EFT, this simple technique fills a void that cannot be filled by prescription medications or traditional psychotherapy. According to the theory behind EFT, childhood trauma causes a severe disruption in the body’s energy meridian system and unless this disruption is corrected, physical and emotional symptoms and coping behaviors are likely to erupt as the traumatized child ages. EFT corrects that energy disruption and its accompanying physical and emotional symptoms.
Says Dr Fellitti, “Clearly, we have shown that adverse childhood experiences are both common and destructive. This combination makes them one of the most important, if not the most important, determinants of the health and well-being of the nation. Unfortunately, these problems are both painful to recognize and difficult to cope with. Most physicians would far rather deal with traditional organic disease, treatment and prevention implications of the ACE Study are daunting to conventional doctors. “Why would one want to leave the relative comfort of traditional organic disease and enter this area of threatening uncertainty that none of us has been trained to deal with?”
Gary Craig says, “Thousands of EFT Practitioners are currently working with children and adults, teaching them EFT and helping them to resolve complex emotional traumas. In addition to laypersons, medical professionals of all kinds are incorporating EFT into their practices.” Adverse Childhood Experiences no longer need be a life sentence…
Did You Know that Fear and Stress during infancy and early childhood has a cumulative impact on childhood development, but there is GOOD NEWS…
What is the ACE study and why might It be important to you?
During my work as an Emotional Freedom coach and an Inner Child Advocate, using Emotional Freedom Technique to help women break free from old emotional baggage still running their lives, the ACES study explains exactly what I’ve been experiencing with myself and my clients all along. Our wounded and traumatized inner child (don’t worry, I’m not singling you out! We all had wounds and trauma’s as little children. Remember a trauma can be anything that makes us feel helpless, powerless and /or overwhelmed. Who, as a child, never experienced those feelings at one time or another? It’s safe to say that we ALL have.) And, those trauma’s and wounds have been held subconsciously in our bodies and are sabotaging us (or as I like to say, trying to protect us) as adults. The following information about the ACES study was taken from the website http://www.americasangel.org.
[NOTE: I will be sharing 4 follow up blog posts with more specifics about the ACES study over the next month… I invite you to join me on the journey.]
“The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study is one of the largest scientific research studies of its kind, with over 17,000 mostly middle income Americans participating. The focus was to analyze the relationship between childhood trauma and the risk for physical and mental illness in adulthood. Over the course of a decade, the results demonstrated a strong, graded relationship between the level of traumatic stress in childhood and poor physical, mental and behavioral outcomes later in life. The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente.”
How does fear impact childhood?
The key concept underlying the ACE Study is that stressful or traumatic childhood experiences can result in social, emotional, and cognitive impairments. Examples: Increased risk of unhealthy behaviors, risk of violence or re-victimization, disease, disability and “early death.” Breakthroughs in neuro-biology demonstrate that fear-based childhoods disrupt neuro-development, and can actually alter normal brain structure and function. Fear during infancy and early childhood has a cumulative impact on childhood development. Results of the ACE Study link the exploding rates in America’s physical, mental, and social pathologies with our national failure to strengthen families and protect children.
What increased health risks are associated with an ACE?
The young brain is especially vulnerable to stress. When prolonged stress occurs during infancy and childhood, the stress hormone cortisol is released throughout the young brain and body. These stress hormones compromise normal brain development and the immature immune and nervous systems.
[NOTE: Prior to age 7 or 8 years old our minds are in a hypnotic state and we are experiencing the world through FELT perception, or FEELINGS, so the trauma we experience is embedded within our system. We don’t begin really THINKING about the world until about 8 years old. This is why EFT Tapping is so effective because we are able to focus on the FEELINGS of STRESS that has been stored in our bodies, vs the words. Research has shown that EFT Tapping is an amazing tool for reducing the cortisol and other stress hormones in our brains and bodies, releasing the long held stress in our bodies.]
The ACE Study demonstrates that early stress is a strong factor for developing the following national health problems.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attacks
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain (especially abdominal fat)
- Reduced Growth Hormone Levels
- Compromised immune function
- Bone loss
Lifelong Impacts on the Brain and Body from the Following:
A decade of rigorous research demonstrates that sustained stress in childhood results in overproduction of cortisol, with profound, lifelong impacts on the brain and body when growing up experiencing any of the following conditions in the household prior to age 18:
- Recurrent physical abuse
- Recurrent emotional abuse
- Contact sexual abuse
- An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household
- An incarcerated household member
- Family member who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
- Mother is treated violently
- One or no parents
- Physical neglect
- Emotional neglect
If you can relate to any of the above experiences perhaps you can benefit from EFT Tapping too! The GOOD NEWS is that EFT Tapping is a very powerful yet gentle tool in helping to process and release some of the stress, fears and trauma’s that come from childhood and in turn help to stop the repetitive patterns of the repressed EMOTIONS from childhood stress and trauma’s in our adult lives, even when we don’t know what they are at a conscious level.
[NOTE: That’s the number 1 question that I get asked, what if I don’t know what my childhood issues are? My answer is, most of the time we don’t because they are held in our subconscious. That’s totally ok. That’s what we are able to do with EFT, as an Inner Child Advocate I am able to help you take the sting out of them allowing you to FEEL CALMER and SAFER in the process of finding them!! In fact, I’ve successfully worked with many women who never even had to “go there” we simply tapped on “that feeling” or “that incident” and didn’t have to TALK about it at all!
More to come…
Over the next 4 weekly blog posts I will be sharing more about the ACES study. I invite you to join us and remember your comments below are very valuable. Plus if you know anyone else who might benefit from this information please invite them to join us by signing up at my website Your Strongest Life www.yourstrongestlife.com.
PS Have you read hundreds of self help books and spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in talk therapy only to continue feeling discouraged that you still FEEL stuck in your emotional baggage but you don’t know what it is or what to do about it? EFT may be what you are looking for! It has been for me!
“What I didn’t know was that I needed to embrace my heartbroken little boy’s loneliness and unresolved grief about his lost father, his lost family, and his lost childhood. I had to embrace my original pain.”
~John Bradshaw, author Homecoming
Friends: “The good news is that original pain work involves nature’s own healing process. Grief is the healing feeling. We will heal naturally if we are just allowed to grieve.”
“Grief involves the whole range of human emotions. The original pain is an accumulation of unresolved conflicts whose energy has snowballed over time. The wounded inner child is frozen because there was no way they could do their grief work. All of their emotions were bound by toxic shame. We came to believe that we could not depend on our primary caregiver. In fact, we came to believe that we had no right to depend on anyone. Isolation and the fear of depending on anyone are two of the main consequences of toxic shame.”
“For your wounded inner child to come out of hiding, they must be able to trust that you will be there for them. Your inner child also needs a supportive, non-shaming ally to validate their abandonment, neglect, abuse, and enmeshment.”
Reading the above in John Bradshaw’s book Homecoming, he clearly describes what is needed to heal original pain, the pain that happens to us prior to the age of 8 when our brain is in a hypnotic state absorbing everything that we see, hear and feel directly into our subconscious mind. EFT tapping is such a gentle, effective and relatively quick way to process the grief and shame that your inner child has been subconsciously hiding behind for so many years. In my own personal inner work and as an Inner Child Advocate I have experienced a “supportive, non-shaming ally” working with other EFT practitioners and have been one for my clients. How could you benefit from being able to release that from your body once and for all?
Have you ever been going though your adult life and out of no where your emotional buttons got pushed? In a nano-second, your body was filled with intense emotions, could be fear, shame, grief, guilt, sadness… you name it. And typically you don’t even know where it came from or how to deal with it. My experience and understanding is that it is the inner childhood wounds that have been stored in our bodies, not gone just hidden in our subconscious mind. The most important part to understand is that when those emotional buttons get triggered and we have an emotional outburst of some kind, our emotions are at the same age level as they were during the original “trauma” or pain (feelings of helplessness, powerlessness and overwhelm). So for instance, if you had a shaming experience at age 4 it was tucked away in your subconscious because it was just too painful to deal with. When something triggers that shame button as an adult, however, you instantly FEEL it as if you were a 4 year old again. That’s why it’ feels so dramatic and painful!
Remember, EFT work is NOT talk therapy, it’s like emotional acupuncture without needles. We use our own fingertips to gently focus on and clear the limiting emotions that are keeping us stuck.
Being STUCK in your emotional past is expensive… Emotional Freedom is priceless!
PS Please share your thoughts below. There is healing in the interaction, finding out that you aren’t alone after all. Many, many women experience the same feelings you have, or are, struggling with — I’m one of them! However most of us have lived a lifetime feeling too ashamed to talk about it. This is a safe place to share.
“Little Maggie”, about 4 years old, is sitting in the middle of a playground. She is sad and desperately lonesome. “Little Anna” is trapped in the gingerbread house, immobilized by fear. And “Little Kurt” is hiding in his room and refuses to come out, ever.
Friends: The world is crowded with lonesome, fearful, and hurt Inner Children. People were unappreciated, abandoned, or abused in their childhood. EFT can make a real difference in such a person’s life often in just a few sessions. EFT is usually rapid, long-lasting and gentle. No need for drugs or equipment. It is easily learned by anyone.
Even though Little Maggie is sad and lonesome because nobody wants to play with her… Even though Little Anna is scared to death of the witch… Even though Little Kurt does not want to leave his room because nobody cares about how he feels anyway… Even though Little Rose has this horror of being locked in a dark closet stuck in her throat… Even though Freddie wants to throw up because his stepfather does not want him… Even though Little Pat’s heart burns like hell…
Often real memories pop up when we tap on the Inner Child images: When “Karen” met her Inner Child, she saw a little girl hiding in her room, full of dread and fear. The most intense feeling was “being worthless.” She reported tension in her chest and stomach. The SUD level was at a 7 (the term ‘SUD’ stands for Subjective Unit of Distress). Immediately, a memory popped up: When she was about 5 years old, she was taken to her grandparents, where she had dinner. When she tipped her plate and spilled food, her mother scolded her: “Can’t you do anything right!” Several rounds of tapping brought the feeling of being worthless to a SUD level of 0 to 1. We then moved to other memories with the theme “worthlessness”.
After tapping on the feelings of the Inner Child and working with any real memories that came up, I ask how the little one is feeling now. More often than not, the whole inner scenery has changed. The adult person is hugging and comforting the child, and they start talking or taking action to change the situation. It was a huge relief for “Kurt”, when his little boy finally opened the door and left the room he had been hiding in for a very long time.
Although there still might be some feelings of hurt and abandonment, the Inner Child usually starts to hug and play, once the adult made the connection. No longer is it merely painful to visit this archetype, but it is also perceived as a source of joy and wonder. The most rewarding moment for me comes when somebody discovers that their Inner Child is not weak and powerless, but a strong and courageous little person that did the best she or he could to survive in a hostile environment. EFT is Superman when it comes to rescuing Inner Children!
The above was taken from an article titled Healing the Wounded Inner Child with EFT written by Carna Zacharias-Miller, an EFT practitioner who specializes in working with clients who have experienced a Missing Mother in FL. I feel like she’s described very well what happens when we are able to use EFT to help heal our wounded inner child. I know because that is exactly what EFT has done for me. I’m soo thankful that I was finally introduced to EFT 7 years ago in my early 50’s. It’s made a world of difference in my own life in addition to many, many clients. My favorite part of all of this is that “the whole inner scenery changes” and something that was terrifying and completely controlling me at age 5, I’m now able to see and feel it from an adults perspective, in a completely different and significantly calmer and more relaxed way…often in a very short time. We are actually able to help our inner child safely “process” the emotions of those experiences, that may have been STUCK for years, so we can stop repeating them over and over in our adult lives. If you’ve read all the self help books, tried talk therapy and everything else to get some relief yet nothing else has seemed to work I highly recommend checking out EFT tapping.
Done over the phone from the comfort and privacy of your own home or office. Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Big hugs! Gwen
Inner childhood fear is expensive…. Emotional Freedom is priceless!
PS Please share your thoughts below. We all have wounded inner children whether we are consciously aware of them or not and by sharing your thoughts it allows others to see that they truly aren’t alone.
*|FNAME|* I just listened to an amazing interview on the Hay House Summit last week, Overcoming the Past: Trauma, the Shadow, and the Inner Child with a woman I’ve never heard of before, Teal Swan, internationally recognized spiritual leader and influential new voice in the field of metaphysics. I was thrilled to hear her talk about exactly what I know to be true using EFT very effectively as an Inner Child Advocate.
I’d like to share some of what she said because I love the way she explains it by describing the value and benefit TO YOU as an adult about doing this deep work.
“In the beginning of our lives we experience the world through FELT perception, that is we are FEELING the world much more than we are THINKING about the world. We begin to really start THINKING about the world and become cognitive beings at about 8 years old. So at about 8 years old we develop the capacity to think our way out of problems and thus the trauma we experience does not become embedded within the system.” (She explained that we all experience trauma).
[NOTE: Trauma, according to Dr. Robert Scaer MD, trauma specialist, can be anything that causes us to FEEL helpless, powerless or overwhelmed. How many of us HAVE NOT experienced trauma when you think about it that way? Not very darn many of us, right?]
“This is really revolutionary so what I’m about to say a lot of people are gonna have a lot of resistance to to begin with but I recommend that you stay open…
All of the trauma that we have experienced reflects out into our lives as adults happened prior to age 8.”
“You might say wait a minute! This doesn’t make sense cuz you’ve got people returning from war having war flashbacks. I’ve worked with plenty of these people. What you find is that when you trace back to the original trauma it’s never the war, it’s always some circumstance they went through in childhood.
Here’s an example from one of my clients: (WARNING, possible trauma triggering alert!) “You’ve got a soldier who is really traumatized because he was in a situation in Iraq where they were all shot at and they had to basically duck and hide. He essentially couldn’t get to his best friend in the unit who was then shot in front of him. So now in his adult life he is having all kinds of flashbacks and just can’t function. He was barely leaving the house when I started working with him. When we took him back to that trauma… we went back even further. When was the first time that you felt this particular feeling?, I asked.”
“He was in fact 2 years old stuck in his playpen and his favorite brother was getting beaten up by his new step brother.”
“So the experience he had in the war was an experience that was brought into his life virtue of the Law of Attraction which was nothing but a reflection of that prior trauma that happened at age 2. The one that actually needed resolution was that circumstance, that memory where he was 2 years old. That was what we had to take him back to and help him reintegrate.”
[NOTE: You may be asking how can she compare the trauma of war to that of being stuck in your playpen at age 2? Remember “FELT perception” vs “THOUGHT.” The childhood trauma was stored in his body as a feeling, an emotion from the perception of a 2 year old — helplessness, powerlessness AND overwhelm — that needed processing. It wasn’t so he carried it to the war with him where it was re-triggered. He was a physical adult but the wound was from his inner child, the 2 year old.]
“Basically all of our trauma that we are trying to resolve in adulthood is childhood trauma. That is why doing inner child work has been the hallmark of trauma resolution for so long. It absolutely works!”
However, as she continued sharing, she talked about our limited understanding of how emotion works. “It’s the emotional aspect of the inner child that is so unresolved.”
“It’s like we are parachuting ourselves into inner child work and instantly rescuing the child out of the circumstance without first validating the emotions that the child is FEELING. If we were to take our adult selves in with that child who was 2 years old in the playpen we wound have to first say you are totally right to feel this powerless and this terrified. We have to essentially validate how the child FEELS and THAT enables the emotion to begin to move forward, like fixing a CD so it’s no longer skipping. It’s beginning to play again because we typically skip over that step so we keep having to come back to the same [traumatic] memory over and over again and we just can’t get past it because we tend to disapprove of emotions more than anything else [we are afraid of them because we don’t know how to resolve them, we don’t know how to integrate them and we don’t know what to do with them]. That’s what we have to do first before we ever try to rescue the kid or try to improve the circumstance.”
I don’t’ know if Teal uses EFT or not but I do know that with EFT tapping processing, resolving and neutralizing those traumatic FEELINGS and emotions that have been buried in our bodies, sometimes for YEARS and YEARS, causing our emotional buttons to continue getting triggered are EXACTLY what we are able to do in a gentle and safe way so we can stop them from coming back!
Remember, EFT work is NOT talk therapy so we are able to more gently focus on the FEELINGS much more than the words. If you are interested in trying EFT out via the phone from the comfort and privacy of your own home please email me at email@example.com for your Introductory session for ONLY $47.
Being STUCK in your emotional past is expensive… Emotional Freedom is priceless!
PS Please share your thoughts below with other readers. You’ll be surprised at how similarly we all think even though we think everyone else has their shit together and we are the only ones who are emotionally screwed up! SMILE
Call to action:
Who was there FOR you as an infant?
Who held you when you were scared or crying?
As I was reading in my book Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child this morning by John Bradshaw, that sentence jumped off the screen at me! Who was there FOR you as an infant?Who held you when you were scared or crying? I thought back and didn’t remember anyone being there to hold me when I was scared or crying. I did remember, however, when I was upset and crying as a very little girl my mom would tell me sternly that I was only crying to get attention and to stop. I didn’t know the words back then but it felt very shaming. Like there was something wrong with me for even being upset so to survive I learned to shut down. As I got older that shut down feeling became making a joke to protect myself. Can you relate?
I kept reading….
“The more ashamed a child is, the more she feels she has no right to DEPEND on anyone. Because the wounded child never got her needs met and was shamed the most when she was the most needy, she may feel that she is bothering people if she asked them to listen to her.“
Whew, BINGO! That was it exactly! That’s how I felt. Can you relate?
I started thinking about my Happy Mother’s Day post to my Mom the other day and wondering if my Mom ever had anyone there for her when she was scared or crying as a little girl. I know my grandma, her mom, even though she passed before I was born, sounded like she was a pretty tough lady, kind of hard as nails! Not very warm and fuzzy at all!!
Then I remembered that I had recently realized that my Mom had been, as Iyanla Vanzant on the OWN channel, calls a “daddyless daughter.” Her dad was an alcoholic and her mom left and lived as a single mom raising 7 kids by herself in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Oh my goodness! I’m not sure how old my mom was when they split up but I can only imagine how tough it must have been for her. It was very tough in the 1980’s when I was a single mom with only two kids!! I don’t even know if my mom ever saw her dad as she was growing up or not. I knew all of this at some level but I never stopped to think about how that may have affected and impacted her ability to be a mother to me until now.
I went to a youtube video by Iyanla and watched her talking about daddyless daughters. She described that when a woman doesn’t have a daddy, either when they are there but not emotionally there, they are gone entirely or they were there but left because of divorce etc it creates a hole and a yearning that nothing ever seems to fill. They feel UNwanted, UNloved, UNloveable, UNacceptable, UNimportant, UNattractive and UNworthy. It’s all starting to make so much more sense now… that this is the women that I was so desperate to depend on and get my needs met from. I can imagine that when she felt me being needy it triggered her own neediness and it must have been so very painful for her. No wonder she treated me the way she did. No wonder “I” felt like there was no one there for “me” when I was scared or crying because she felt like there was no one there for “her.”
I so appreciate the past 7 years of using EFT for myself (often with the help of others) so I can put together these puzzle pieces of my life now. Before EFT I was so caught in the painful feelings and the wounds of that little child inside of me that I couldn’t see or feel anything else. It was all about me. There was no way I could have ever felt safe enough to see it in a way that I no longer felt like a victim and to be able to see it from my mom’s perspective.
I’d love for you to share what popped up for you while reading my story below.
We so often think that we are so screwed up and everyone else has their shit together but I’m here to tell you that we are all in this together. We have much more in common when we talk about our wounded inner child than we can imagine.
Until next time… hugs!
Happy Mothers Day Mom. I decided to write a list of the things i appreciate about you today. (This feels very odd and foreign b/c I’ve spent a lifetime focusing on what you did wrong and how badly you hurt and upset me). Its time to take a look at the other side of the coin…
–I appreciate that you thought it was so important to come to be with me at school during the movie “Its Wonderful Being a Woman.”
–I appreciate that you came with my class when i took my first train ride.
–I appreciate that you were clean and taught me to keep my body clean (even tho I’ve rebelled a bit from your OCD ways in other parts of my life. 😊)
–I appreciate that you often smelled of Jergen’s lotion when i was little.
–I appreciate that you learned to drive when you were 53 years old.
–I appreciate that you and Daddy stayed married for 37 years until Daddy passed when i was 17 and i didn’t have to have divorced parents.
–I appreciate that you “wore the pants” in the family way back then and gave me a role model as a strong woman.
–I appreciate you having me when you were 42 when my siblings were 18, 17 & 14.
–I appreciate your stories of psychics, psychic phenomena and reincarnation.
–I appreciate you (and Daddy) teaching me how to recycle and compost waay before it was popular.
–I appreciate you working at the hospital cafeteria when i was little and buying me things like my new bed and making me a matching bedspread and curtains with your money.
–Thank you for sewing me Barbie doll clothes.
–Thank you for showing me how important it is to vote by dressing up to do it.
–Thank you for working so hard to make delish homemade chicken and noodles for special dinners.
–Thank you for making homemade raspberry jam, applesauce, apple butter, apple pies and canned green beans from our fruit trees and garden.
–Thank you for liking the color yellow.
What a funny experience, the more I write the more warm memories about my mom are coming out of the woodwork… 😊 Thank you EFT for helping me to be able to naturally go there. Healing our inner childhood wounds is priceless!!
I 💛 you Mom, Happy Mothers Day!
AH-HA…. JUST START!!
After posting this to my Facebook page this morning, feeling oddly calm and serene, because I know how many years I’ve worked to get to this point in my relationship with my mom, I turned to page 113 in my book Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw and started to read…. As I eagerly absorbed page by page information about the wounded inner child…
The more I read, the more validated I felt.
The more I read, the more I KNEW in my heart that this is what I am meant to do and how many ways my wounded inner child has stopped me
The more I read, the more I realized just how much I LOVE being an Inner Child Advocate and using EFT Tapping to help myself and others heal their own wounded inner child so they stop controlling our adult lives.
Then I started thinking about a conversation I’d had with my adult daughters last weekend about how I see the world and what I naturally think of when someone is struggling with something in their lives... they both said “oh, I don’t even think about that!”
AH-HA, it hit me like a ton of bricks!!
Perhaps sharing the steps I’ve taken (an am still taking b/c I’m a work in progress) to help heal my own wounded inner child could be beneficial for others.
Perhaps others simply can’t see what I see because they don’t think about things the same way as I do.
Perhaps sharing with others what I experience and observe, from my perspective, might be beneficial in helping them understand what’s happening in their own lives and how they could potentially benefit from using EFT Tapping.
Then the words, “JUST START” from transformational comedian Kyle Cease instantly came to me!
What if I simply do what I do every morning… read, journal, & tap as my own Inner Child Advocate… and share my journey with you? Sort of like a Tapping Reality show. LOL! OK, please consider this my START!
If you are interested in continuing to read my posts please do nothing and they will automatically start coming to you as an email. If this does not sound like your cup of tea, and it’s not a good fit, that’s fine, you can easily UPDATE your information or UNSUBSCRIBE by scrolling to the bottom of the page.
I’d love to hear your feed back along the way. Please make comments and ask questions below. Let’s have a conversation!
UNLOCK Your Invisible Money Blocks…
Teleseminar THURSDAY April 14, 2016
10:30am Pacific / 1:30pm Eastern
Are you a Women who is Passionate about Making a Difference doing what you love, yet you are earning less than your potential?
Do you sabotage yourself and seem to experience the same ol unhealthy patterns around money over and over again?
Do you experience a lot of fear when it comes to money?
(Fear of failing, fear of rejection, afraid of being judged, afraid of people not liking you because you have or don’t have it, afraid of being really successful, fear of the responsibility of having a lot of money or the fear of losing it all?)
If you answered YES to any of the questions above you may be living with some invisible limiting beliefs around money that are preventing you from living Your Strongest Life.
Are you ready to get to the heart of the matter and UNLOCK those Money Blocks once and for all?
Join Stella Kopperud and I for an interactive, one hour teleseminar, on Thursday April 14, 2016 at 10:30am Pacific / 1:30pm Eastern to:
- learn the basics of *EFT tapping
- be chosen as a volunteer to tap on & reduce or clear one of your own money blocks
- experience Borrowing Benefits -simply tapping along with someone else on their issues, can help you reduce the intensity of your own.
REGISTER NOW: Simply send you name, email address, phone number and
I’m excited to help you to UNLOCK Your Invisible Money Blocks!
*EFT = Emotional Freedom Technique, a combination of ancient Chinese medicine and modern psychology, like emotional acupuncture without needles.