My answer to: “The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress”
In 1994, after I finished writing my manuscript about my abused childhood, I asked the question: Does childhood abuse have long-term consequences? Regardless who I asked, every psychologist or therapist, they all answered the same way: “children grow-out of their early experience”. But feeling how my abused childhood held me hostage and disabled me, kept me from concentrating, feeling constant effects from the early imprint, I however, said NO.
On top of the childhood stress I experienced, I now as an adult, was added insult; being labeled as a hypochondriac and neurotic by therapists, someone unwilling to let go of my childhood experience or forgive my abuser, or even being blamed for not believing in God, who was supposed to take all the pain away.
After hundreds of hours cognitive therapy, I realized nothing changes the early imprint of violence. I concluded, cognitive therapy cannot change the damage done way back then. Talking about the horror of the past is no more than open the door to the past because talking is a cognitive reaction (left brain). Cognition (talking about) is not reaching the lower right brain (neo cortex), where the violent imprint is manifested, ergo: no healing. Much money is wasted in cognitive therapy which is no more than analytical and suggested lifestyle changes, according to the therapists instruction, meaning the one in pain is instructed to enter a new co-dependency. Another co-dependency is antidepressants. Medicating the horrid imprint can provide no more than temporary serotonin/dopamine/ norepinephrine support, but cannot help healing or change damaged genes.
In 2000, I wrote to 36 universities in the USA and Europe asking if research could provide evidence that children have PTSD, changed hormone such as higher/lower cortisol levels. I received only one answer: “children have no PTSD”.
To push the subject of research I wrote to President Clinton encouraging research. His Answer: https://sieglindewalexander.com/category/letters/
In 2004, I again asked the same Universities if childhood abuse is responsible for altering gene function. No answer.
Now science delivers proof for that what I felt for years.
Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents: www.nature.com
Early life stress affects cognitive functioning in low-income children: www.sciencedaily.com
Additional report: The Biological Embedding of Child Abuse and Neglect Implications for Policy and Practice: www.srcd.org
Unfortunately the highlights of this study point mainly toward poverty as the culprit and neglect the permanent stress, due to the severe abuse and neglect many children of ALL and levels in social had and have to endure.
Why is it so difficult for scientists to expose the severity, the genetic/health altering effects of childhood abuse?
Is it because society is still abusing without consequences, out of cultural tradition, or fear of discovering their own early inflicted pain? Or the fact that they continue the pattern of violence.
We must face the horrid reality – the effect of childhood/infant abuse, if we would like to prevent permanent damage for future generations.
My DNA test revealed among other damage genes, markers for inflammation (interleukin) and rs7294919, showed a particularly strong link to a reduced hippocampus volume, suggesting that this gene is very important to hippocampus development or health; and a SNP in the oxytocin receptor which may makes a person less empathetic when under stress, and rs1360780(T) allele is associated with increased risk for depression, with an odds ratio of 1.39 (CI: 1.14-1.70, p=0.046). This same SNP, which is in the FKBP5 gene, may influence how patients respond to antidepressants including citalopram. rs1360780(T;T) homozgyotes tend to report more depressive episodes, which explained why I have psoriasis, low cortisol, diabetic and lack of concentration and reject any physical contact, since childhood. I was in constant fear and associated physical contact with pain.
Let’s continue with research and honestly expose the mistakes made/overlooked in the past, so we have a chance to prevent permanent and life altering damage and let us validate the pain childhood victims must live with for the rest of their lives.
Epi-genetic science must find a way to de-methylate, repair/replace damaged off/on switches in genes, if we want to prevent an continuing buildup of sick and malfunctioning society.
In addition, we must educate doctors who are still in denial or ignorant of scientific findings and blindly medicate symptoms instead searching for the cause.
We must change the way we see children who cannot concentrate in school by finding the reason why they fail, instead of pumping millions into a system and ignoring the fact that the child experienced “toxic Stress” and is thereby challenged in learning.
If we don’t care for the psychologically injured adults first, we will see irreparable socioeconomic differences and neurocognitive disabilities in future generations, which will weaken the foundations of any society. It is only the abused (the one under constant toxic stress) who will, consciously or subconsciously re-abuse and pass on the defected genes.