Updated: Nov 10, 2020
People get stuck, stopped in their growth because they cant integrate new experiences into their lives. Being traumatised means continuing to organise your life as if the trauma were still going on - unchanged and immutable - as every encounter or event is contaminated by the past.
1. What happens to your brain in trauma
2. Alternative practises & medicines
3. Food that can heal trauma
4. The impact of trauma on children
After the trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system. The survivors energy now becomes focused on suppressing inner chaos at the expense of spontaneous involvement in their lives. These attempts to maintain control over unbearable physiological reactions can result in a whole range of physical symptoms including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and other auto immune diseases. This explains why it is critical for trauma treatment to engage the entire organism , body, mind and brain.
What happens to your brain in trauma.
The most important job of the brain is to ensure our survival, even under the most miserable conditions. Everything else is secondary. In order to do that the brain needs:
1. Generate internal signals that register what our bodies need, such as food, rest protection, sex and shelter.
2. Create a map of the world to point us where to go to satisfy those needs.
3. Generate the necessary energy and actions to get us there.
4. Warn us of dangers and opportunities along the way
5. Adjust our actions based on requirements of that moment.
And since we are human beings and mammals, we thrive only in groups, all of the imperative require coordination and collaboration/ Psychological problems happen when our internal signals don’t work, when our maps don’t lead us where we need to go, when we are to paralysed to move, when our actions do not correspond to our needs or when our relationships break down.
Every brain structure that I discuss has a role to playing these essential functions and as well we will see how trauma can interfere with everyone of them.
Our cognitive brain is actually the youngest part of our brain and occupies only 30% of the area of our skull.
The rational brain is actually concerned with the outside world: understanding how things and people work, figuring out how to accomplish goals, manage time and sequence to actions.
Beneath the rational brain lie two evolutionary older and to some degree separate brains, which are in charge of everything else: the moment by moment registration of comfort, safety, threat, hunger, fatigue, desire, longing, excitement, pleasure and pain.
The brain os built from the bottom up. It develops level by level within every child in the womb.
The reptilian brain is responsible for all things that newborn babies cannot do: eat, sleep, wake, cry, breathe, feel temperature, hunger, wetness and pain. They cannot rid the body of toxins.
Breathing, eating, sleeping are complexities are so fundamental that their significance in everyday life are so easily neglected, when considering the complexities of the mind. If your sleep, appetitive and bowels are disturbed or if touch makes you scream (as it does in trauma). The entire organism is thrust into disequilibrium. It is interesting to note how many psychological problems involve these aspects: sleep, appetite, touch, digestion and arousal.
The limbic system shapes our responses to experience, in partnership with the individuals own genetic makeup and inborn temperament. What happens to the child as it develops shapes the Brian and emotional response of that child. Its also sets them up for adulthood - survival in the environment.
If you feel safe and loved your brain becomes specialised in exploration, play and cooperation, if you are frightened and unwanted it specialises in managing feelings of fear and abandonment.
Taken together the reptilian brain and limbic system make up of what I’ll call the emotional brain.
Crucial for understanding trauma, the frontal lobes are also the seat of empathy - our ability to ‘feel in to’ somebody else.
Numerous experiments have found that neutron mirror each other, they mirror the other person and copy each other such as empathy, imitation, synchronicity and even the development of language.
We pick up on the another persons movement but also their emotional state and intentions as well. When people are in sync with each other, they tend to stand or sit similar way and their voices take on similar rhythms. - vital in knowing this.
* When are in the presence of one another fro a sustainable anoint of time their menstrual cycles will synchronise together and they will menstrate at the same time.
* Likewise a relationships with a toxic individual will have you feel emotionally exhausted, you will relive their trauma, their negative emotions.
These neurones take on the vulnerability of others that is why the old wines tail goes - be careful who you spend your time with. This especially true of Empaths, who feel this phenomen even more so because they are able to tap into another beings energetic field.
*** trauma involves almost invariable involves not being seen , not being mirrored and not being taken into account by others but also to resist being hijaked by other emotional negative problems.
2. Alternative Medicines
Qi is believed to help regulate balance in the body. It is influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang, which represent positive and negative energy and forces in the universe and human body. Acupuncture is believed to keep the balance between yin and yang, thus allowing for the normal flow of qi throughout the body and restoring health to the mind and body.
Massage therapy involves the restoration of proper joint function of the spine or extremities, and the strengthening of supporting muscles and soft tissues. Massage therapy stretches and loosens muscle and connective tissue, and improves blood flow and the movement of lymph fluid, speeding the removal of metabolic waste products resulting from exercise or inactivity, and allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells and tissues. Sensory receptors in the skin and muscles "wake up", bringing new awareness to areas that have felt "cut off" by chronic tension patterns.
Massage affects pain through the central nervous system. In one particular theory of pain called the "gate theory," messages of pain which normally travel from the injury to the brain, are blocked before reaching the centres responsible for interpreting pain. Massage helps stimulate and close the so-called gate of pain messages. As a result, the intensity of the pain perceived by the brain is decreased.
Reiki is one of the more widely known forms of energy healing. Energy Healing involves direct application of Chi for the purpose of strengthening the clients’ energy system (aura).
Universe is made of energy which is subject to (or affected by) thought. Just as modern physics says this energy is affected by thought the mystics also say this underlying form is affected by thought, going so far as to claim we create our own reality from our thinking and the thoughts we share between each of us every day. The energy knows where to go, and what to do once it gets there, or else is being directed by a higher intelligence. The energy manages its own flow to and within the recipient.
2.4 Crania-Sacral Therapy
CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system - comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.
2.5 Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Research shows that emotional issues and trauma are linked to chronic pain and disease in the body. EFT is a self-healing method that combines elements of cognitive therapy and exposure therapy with acupressure to tap on acupuncture points throughout the body.
How does it work? Put simply, EFT tapping reduces the emotional impact of memories that trigger emotional upset.
2.6 Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
This powerful multi-phase modality helps heal trauma, including sexual and physical abuse, accident trauma, and grief. It works by using left-to-right eye movements or other repeated movements along with psychotherapy to help free people from disturbing images and body sensations, debilitating emotions, and restrictive beliefs.
One of the biggest benefits of this method is that it works quickly. Studies show that up to 90 percent of trauma patients no longer have post traumatic stress after only three 90-minute sessions.
3. Foods that help in the healing of trauma (neuro nutrition).
Curcumin and Green Tea have shown benefits in traumatic brain injury treatment.
CURCUMIN – is an active compound found in the spice turmeric. It has attracted much interest as a potential treatment for many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), cancer, and heart disease due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. While results are still preliminary, curcumin extracts are showing positive benefit in euro-recovery, cell membrane stabilisation, and reduction of oxidative stress in animals.[8,9,19,11] Other potential therapeutic effects include increasing brain growth factors, chelating heavy metals, reducing cholesterol, and protecting mitochondria.
The problem with curcumin is that it doesn’t dissolve well in water, making its absorption through the digestive tract limited.
GREEN TEA – like curcumin, is a well-known and widely consumed herb with broad-spectrum antioxidant activity. Its neuroprotective properties can be attributed primarily to the power antioxidant molecule called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the amino acid L- theanine, and to a lesser degree caffeine.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS – have long been considered essential for brain development and function.
VITAMIN E – is a commonly studied natural compound for brain health since it has a powerful antioxidant effect, specifically in fatty tissue (i.e. nerves).
CREATINE, L-CARNITINE, ALA AND MORE – There are a number of other emerging nutrients currently being studied for TBI. Creatine, an amino acid found in muscles, has human evidence supporting its benefit in reducing symptoms after a trauma.
Having a more alkaline based body PH balance will mean that your body and mind will have a better chance of recovery. On the other hand of you have a more acidic PH balance in your body which is contaminated by cortisol, it destroys the organism. There has to be homeostasis for the body to repair and in turn the mind too. In narcissistic abuse recovery you really have to look after you as a holistic ‘whole’ being rather than focus on one thing because its not just one thing that is affected, its the whole system.
Nutritional Tips for healing brain functioning
* Eat small meals every three to four hours.Keep small bags of healthy snacks with you during the day to boost your energy, such as nuts, trail mix, apples, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and energy bars. Ask a member of your family or support group to make these for you and put them in a small cooler to take with you when away from home.Balance small meals with a combination of protein, healthy fats and oils, and carbohydrates.
* Proteins include fish, lean meats, nuts, and eggs.
* Healthy fats and oils can be found in avocados, seeds, and nuts.
* Carbohydrates are found in vegetables, fresh fruits, and grains. Avoid eating carbohydrates by themselves if you have blood sugar concerns. Many individuals report that sugar and chocolate increase headaches, so eat sweets sparingly.
* Eat moderately.
Do not overeat as it can cause you to feel sleepy. Eat by the clock. If your brain/body signals are not working well, set a timer, watch alarm or a mobile phone to alert you that it’s time to eat.Since weight gain is common following brain injury, this is another reason to stick to a healthy diet.
Try to eat around the same time every day. The body does best when it is on a routine schedule.
What About Vitamins and Supplements?
There are many books and articles in magazines and on the Internet with tips and ideas for a healthy diet. It is highly recommended that fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, meats and grains are superior to processed foods and build the immune system. In addition, the following list of suggested supplements may help complement and enhance your nutritional intake.
Multivitamins can supply the basic vitamins and supplements that your diet may be lacking.
Omega-3 fatty acids counteract free radicals that cause oxidative damage to brain cells and may help improve nerve signal transmission at synapses.
Probiotics is a beneficial bacteria that helps maintain a healthy intestine and aides in digestion.
Antioxidants which include vitamins C, E, and beta carotene counteract oxidative damage caused by certain foods, and the stress caused by brain injury.
Brain Vitale is a product that combines two beneficial brain nutrients which help repair neurons—phosphatidyl serine and acetyl carnation.
Coenzyme Q10 is a natural antioxidant that is necessary for the basic functioning of cells.
Phosphatidyl serine (PS) aids in the proper release and reception of neurotransmitters in the brain and helps with memory.
Acetyl L-carnitine plays a key role in fatty acid oxidation and is used to improve memory.
B vitamins boost metabolism and effect brain and nervous system functioning.
GPC — glycerophosphocholine helps to sharpen alertness, reasoning, information processing, and other types of mental performance.
Consult a nutritionist or health care provider for an individualised program of supplementation. By eating well, you are developing a good foundation for recovery of your body and brain.
Foods to Avoid
Try to avoid the following foods:
Excessive sweets and candy
You may find that if you drink alcohol following your injury, it may have a stronger effect than before because your tolerance level has changed. Alcohol may interact with prescription medications. Some people may turn to alcohol or other addictive substances to medicate themselves for physical or emotional pain.
4. The impact of trauma on children
Trauma in children can lead to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder as well as to a variety of other psychiatric disorders, including depression, generalised anxiety disorder, panic attacks, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse in adult survivors of trauma.
Research has found that early exposure to stress and trauma causes physical effects on neurodevelopment which may lead to changes in the individual's long-term response to stress and vulnerability to psychiatric disorders. Exposure to trauma also affects children's ability to regulate, identify, and express emotions, and may have a negative effect on the individual's core identity and ability to relate to others.
Brain development in infancy and early childhood lays the foundation for all future development. Neural pathways form at great speed and depend on the repetition of experiences. Experiences teach the brain what to expect and how to respond.
Exposure to chronic, prolonged traumatic experiences has the potential to alter children’s brains, which may cause longer-term effects in areas such as:
Attachment: Trouble with relationships, boundaries, empathy, and social isolation
Physical Health: Impaired sensorimotor development, coordination problems, increased medical problems, and somatic symptoms
Emotional Regulation: Difficulty identifying or labeling feelings and communicating needs
Dissociation: Altered states of consciousness, amnesia, impaired memory
Cognitive Ability: Problems with focus, learning, processing new information, language development, planning and orientation to time and space
Self-Concept: Lack of consistent sense of self, body image issues, low self-esteem,shame and guilt
Behavioural Control: Difficulty controlling impulses, oppositional behavior, aggression, disrupted sleep and eating patterns, trauma re-enactment
When experiences are traumatic, the pathways getting the most use are those in response to the trauma; this reduces the formation of other pathways needed for adaptive behaviour. Trauma in early childhood can result in disrupted attachment, cognitive delays, and impaired emotional regulation. Also, the overdevelopment of certain pathways and the underdevelopment of others can lead to impairment later in life (Perry, 1995).
By age three, the brain is almost 80% of its adult size; by age five it is 90% (zerotothree.org). Although this creates a sense of urgency regarding intervention, it is also important to know that the brain has the most plasticity in infancy and early childhood, meaning there is the most opportunity for change. This is both the reason that prolonged trauma in early childhood can be so devastating, but also a window of opportunity for interventions that can alter the brain in positive ways (CWIG, 2011).
Children and Teens
Brain development continues in the school-age years, but more slowly. During this stage neural pathways are pruned or eliminated to increase efficiency. In addition, the brain coats neural pathways to protect and strengthen them (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). This process allows the school-age child to master more complex skills, including impulse control, managing emotions, and sustaining attention. Trauma during this stage of development can have significant impact on learning, social relationships, and school success (NCTSN, 2008).
The impact of trauma at this age also depends on the onset. If trauma continues into the school-age years from early childhood, the impact is greater on overall functioning.
There is some evidence that trauma that begins during the school-age years will have a different impact than trauma that begins in early childhood. Specifically, school-age onset seems to result in more externalising behaviours (acting out) whereas early childhood onset results in more internalising behaviours (withdrawal, depression, self-blame) (Manly, 2001; Kaplow, 2007).
In adolescence the brain goes through another period of accelerated development. The pruning of unused pathways increases, similar to early childhood. This process makes the brain more efficient, especially the part of the brain that supports attention, concentration, reasoning, and advanced thinking. Trauma during adolescence disrupts both the development of this part of the brain and the strengthening of the systems that allow this part of the brain to effectively communicate with other systems. This can lead to increased risk taking, impulsivity, substance abuse, and criminal activity (NCTSN, 2008; Chamberlin, 2009; Wilson, 2011; CWIG, 2009).
What alternative practises have been helpful in your healing from narcissistic abuse? What foods have you found that your body craves? How long was it before your mind started to recover its memory and executive functioning?
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