“Silent ACEs:” The Epidemic of Attachment and Developmental Trauma

cultureA 2004 landmark study of over 300,000 adults confirmed that social support was a stronger predictor of survival than physical activity, body mass index, hypertension, air pollution, alcohol consumption and even smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Clearly healthy supportive relationships are critical for our health. Extensive research shows that the quality of our adult human relationships and social interactions is defined by how we attached with our primary caregivers as a young child.

Over 6000 mother-baby interactions in the “Strange Situation” studies from 1970-1999 found that a blockbusting 45% of babies insecurely attach with their mother.

These statistics have been confirmed by over 10,000 Adult Attachment Interviews over 25 years up to 2009.

As of 2017, probably only 50% of adults are capable of secure, happy loving adult relationships.

What does this mean for our health and what can be done about it?


TraumaThe original 1998 study by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente of over 17,500 adults found 67% of adults have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Event or “ACE.”

However, this is likely to be an underestimate, because the study relied on people being able to self-report emotional abuse and neglect when asked only two relatively short questions on this category in the study about their childhood.

Assessing for emotional abuse and neglect would include assessing for “attachment trauma,” also called “development disorder” or “complex trauma.”

Attachment trauma occurs in the first 1000 days of life – from conception (including time in utero) up to the age of approximately two years, when a baby does not securely bond with the mother (or primary caregiver).

This is a major trauma that, as you will see, affects the child’s development, how they respond to stressful events in adulthood, and how they bond in key relationships in adulthood.

Before the age of two, the frontal cortex or the thinking part of the brain, has not yet developed and there are no explicit memories from this time, so it is difficult to self-report attachment trauma.

The developmental psychologist Dr Mary Ainsworth, observed over 6000 mother-baby interactions in the “Strange Situation” studies from 1970-1999.

Stunningly, her studies found only 55% of babies securely attach with the mother.

Attachment trauma causes a relational or ambient trauma, where there is no specific incident to recall, such as a physical act of violence or sexual abuse, so this will often go unreported as a “silent ACE.”

When a mother does not express love or emotionally attune to her baby, causing attachment trauma, it leads to what experts have termed Developmental Trauma Disorder in the growing child.

Symptoms of Developmental Trauma include the inability to self-sooth, self-destructive behavior patterns,difficulty with regulating emotions, core shame and self-loathing, inability to concentrate, chronic anger, fear, anxiety, aggression and difficulties with social relations, according to a paper by Dr van der Kolk on Developmental Disorder in 2005.

Bessel van der Kolk MD, the world leading expert in trauma and professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, studied over 40,000 children nationally being treated for multiple traumas and found most “do not meet the criteria for PTSD… (as) the majority of issues are not specific traumas, but issues in their attachment relationships.

To qualify as a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a person must witness or be an actual or possible victim of a specific event that threatens to cause death, physical injury or serious injury. Developmental Trauma Disorder does not qualify as PTSD, which explains why attachment and developmental order have gone underfunded and ignored by the psychiatric profession.

PTSD diagnosis, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association requires 1/ reliving the event (intrusive nightmares, flashbacks) 2/ avoidance of events, people or situations that trigger flashbacks and 3/ numbing and negative changes in feelings and beliefs, and last 4/ hyperarousal – being keyed up and, for example, having poor sleep.

These symptoms are different than those described in the paper on Developmental Trauma Disorder by Dr van der Kolk. Currently the American Psychiatric Association only recognizes PTSD and not Developmental Trauma Disorder. Until it is in the DMS-5, it will not be diagnosed nor treated by psychiatrists and will not be covered by insurance.

The Strange Situation Study Results

baby-933097_1920In Dr Ainsworth’s Strange Situation studies, the mother and her baby and a stranger are in the room. The mother leaves the room for a while, and then returns while researchers carefully observe the baby’s responses.

A securely attached baby will cry and be upset when the mother leaves. When she returns, the baby will cling to his or her mother, be soothed by her, and then will quickly return to playing.

Of the 45% of adults who do not securely attach, 23% are “avoidant” types and 22% are ambivalent or “disorganized.”

The avoidant babies did not react when the mother left the room or returned. She did not differ from a stranger to her baby. Dr Ainsworth found the mothers of these babies were not emotionally expressing love for their babies and were rejecting.

In the ambivalent types, the babies would be angry and cry when the mother comes back in the room and cling to her, but would not calm down. In these cases, the mother was emotionally attuned part of the time, but not consistently.

Results of 10,000 Adult Attachment Interviews

The psychologist Professor Mary Main, who originally worked under Dr Ainsworth, created the Adult Attachment Interviews as a way to assess for attachment trauma in adults.

Over 10,000 interviews were conducted over 25 years up to 2009. Stunningly, by interviewing adults about their childhoods, the researchers could predict with 85% accuracy the attachment style with their own children.

These enormous studies also confirmed Dr Ainsworth’s original findings; an average of only 58% of adults had secure attachment with their primary caregivers, 23% of adults were dismissing (avoidant types), and 19% were preoccupied (ambivalent).

Assessing for attachment trauma in adults in these interviews takes a lot of time. The interview takes 75 minutes to complete by the participant in the study, 10 hours to transcribe, and 4 hours to assess by a qualified professional.

The assessor is trained to assess HOW the participant responded, and are not concerned so much with the content. Clearly two questions in the ACEs questionnaire is too superficial to assess accurately for attachment trauma.

Attachment Trauma and Your Health  

happy peopleThe blueprint for our ability to attach healthily relationships in adulthood is defined during our formative childhood years. As of 2017 – possibly 50% of adults have attachment trauma and cannot maintain secure, loving adult relationships, or are in unsatisfying long-term relationships.

Resolving attachment trauma may be critical for our health. Consider the 2004 landmark study of over 300,000 adults confirming social support was a stronger predictor of survival than physical activity, body mass index, hypertension, air pollution, alcohol consumption and even smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

A meta-analysis of relevant studies published in the medical literature from 1980-2014 confirm loneliness and social isolation increase the likelihood of mortality by 30%.

One of the most robust findings in the science of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the strong correlation between healthy close personal relationships and immune function.

PNI researchers have found social isolation, lack of social integration and interpersonal conflict are associated with increased inflammatory markers.

One of the top reasons a person may not be recovering from an illness is because they are currently in insecure or conflictual relationships, and their body is in a perpetual fight-flight and inflammatory response.

Attachment trauma sets up the blueprint for the types of relationships we attract in adulthood and this affects our relationships, including with our boss, children, friends and our main romantic relationships.

Resolving current relationship issues involves exploring our early attachment relationships and healing the traumatized child.

The Brain Develops in Social Context

brain synchThe outdated conventional medical model was predicated on the human brain developing in isolation, in a closed system unaffected by the environment. So, neuronal pathways and synaptic connections would develop due to nature and our genes.

However, brain research shows our physical brains are directly affected by our social interactions. The fact our brains and identity develop as self-as-changed-by-the-other confirms human interactions are critical to physical and emotional development. Nurture and not just nature (our genes) is critical.

The expression of emotional love, not just physically going through the motions of feeding and clothing a baby, is critical for a child’s physical and psychological development.

The now infamous studies of children in Romanian orphanages where babies were emotionally but not physically neglected and developed symptoms of failure to thrive syndrome (stunted physical and emotional growth), are testament to this.

This is a useful video with leading neuroscientists including Dr Dan Siegal and Dr Bruce Perry talking about attachment trauma:

Attachment Styles and Your Adult Response to Stress

According to the authors of the book “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help you Find-and Keep-Love” researchers have found BOTH babies were classified as the ambivalent (anxious) types and the avoidant (ignored mum) types were found to have higher heart rates and cortisol levels, so they were both in fight-flight responses.

We know from multiple researchers now that early life stress changes the epigenetic expression of glucocorticoid receptors in the brain over the lifetime and changes the entire genome predisposing people to most major types of chronic complex illnesses in adulthood.

An expanding area of research now includes assessing for adult stress responses per attachment style to relationship conflict and non-relationship stress. Research has been somewhat conflicting, but so far those with an ambivalent (anxious) attachment style have been found to have higher stress responses to tasks like public speaking and acute stress. However avoidant types experience high levels of stress in response to relationship conflicts and times of separation.

The upshot is, early life stress reduces resilience to the inevitable stresses we will face in our adulthood. These stressful events in adulthood usually trigger the manifestation of a chronic complex illness. These illnesses started many, many years before the trigger, when our genetic expression shifted in response to attachment then developmental trauma.

How Can We Assess Ourselves for Attachment Trauma as an Adult?

RomanceIf you answered “no” to questions one and four in the ACEs study questionnaire you may want to revisit and dig a little deeper into your past.

The Strange Situation and Adult Attachment Interviews aren’t viable methods of assessing for attachment trauma, however researchers have been using the Close Relations Questionnaire, an assessment of adult romantic relationships to assess for attachment styles.

Experiences in Close Relationships Scale can be assessed online free here: http://personality-testing.info/tests/ECR.php. This questionnaire is based on research which identified four attachment types.

According to researchers,

“Those classed as secure (low anxiety, low avoidance) hold a positive view of self and others because of the consistent responsive care they received. They are comfortable relying on others, and are easily comforted.

Preoccupied individuals (high anxiety, low avoidance) hold a negative view of themselves, but a positive view of others due to inconsistent caregiving. This style is characterised by emotional dependency on others, negative affect, being hyper-vigilant to any potential threats, and having low self esteem.

Dismissive persons (low anxiety, high avoidance) have a positive view of self, where they view themselves as resilient and not needing others, but a negative view of others due to early unresponsive care. Although they are uncomfortable being close to others, they have a positive view of themselves. This strategy leads to the denial of attachment needs, avoidance of closeness, intimacy, dependence in close relationships, and self reliance and independence.

Finally, fearful individuals (high anxiety, high avoidance) have a negative view of both themselves and others. Akin to preoccupied styles they seek social contact, but in this case are inhibited by fear of rejection. This leads to a behaviour style of approach and avoidance in inter-personal interactions in adult life. In common with preoccupied styles they experience high levels of negative affect and poor self esteem.”

From: Kidd T, Hamer M, Steptoe A. Examining the association between adult attachment style and cortisol responses to acute stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2011;36(6):771-779.

Recommended Reading

It is important to explore the attachment types, and recommended books for reading are included below.

Human Magnet SyndromeClinician Ross Rosenberg’s outstanding book “The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us” explores deeply how people with ambivalent or anxious attachment styles are attracted often to the avoidant attachment types.

Rosenberg explores the definition of people who are codependent in relationships (anxious types) and pathological narcissists (avoidantly attached).

attachedAnother book with useful questionnaires assessing attachment styles is the previously mentioned book “Attached” by Amir Levine MD and Rachel Heller MD.

 

Parenting inside outAnother worthy book is “Parenting from the Inside Out: “How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive” by Dr Daniel Siegal and Mary Hartzell – this includes in-depth research and an adapted Adult Attachment Interview for self-exploration.

The Enneagram Type

When as small babies or toddlers we do not feel love from our mother or primary caregiver, this leads to a self-love deficit and is experienced as abandonment by the child.

The essence of unconditional self-love is now lost, and this leads to the core traits and personality types we see develop in the Enneagram personality types.

The Enneagram is a system of 9 personality types used in corporate, personal development, and spiritual circles. Unlike the majority of personality typing systems, the typing is based not on behavioral patterns, but more upon WHY people behave the way they do. This leads to the deeper analysis we need when examining attachment trauma.

So, for example, type 3 “Achievers” do not feel self-love just for being alive; they learnt in childhood they must earn it by achieving results, often falling ino the trap of becoming a human “doing.”

Type 2s, the Givers learn at an early age they can only seem to earn love when they help or support their parents and other people.

Type 1, Perfectionists learn they can only have love if they do things “right” and are “bad” if they get things “wrong.”

Without the feeling of unconditional self-love at our core, our judgement and ability to lead a balanced, healthy life is at risk. It often creates tremendous stress and self-destructive health patterns, like workaholism, inability to prioritize our own health needs, and attracting unsupportive, destructive relationships.

enneagramYou can assess your enneagram type online for $12, here http://www.enneagraminstitute.com, However, once again, reading and exploring the personality types is even more important in learning to know yourself and recognizing previously unconscious emotional patterns.

The book “The Wisdom of the Enneagram” by Don Riso and Russ Hudson is a good starting point.

Assessing for Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect is often overlooked because essentially it requires assessing for what did NOT happen in childhood, rather than what DID happen.

The vast majority of published research on neglect specifically covers physical, not emotional, neglect. So studies, have assessed the impact of children being underfed, or not physically clothed properly for example.

What has been ignored is the hidden trauma of emotional neglect, which is part of attachment and developmental trauma.

Emotional trauma may be worse than physical trauma for the victim, because there are overt signs and therefore social recognition and support for physical trauma.

Emotional trauma is no less detrimental to a child’s physical and psychological health, yet it is invisible for the most part, which means there is a secondary trauma of lack of recognition and social support.

Running on EmptyAn excellent book to assess for emotional neglect is “Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect” by Dr Jonice Webb – it includes questionnaires for self-assessment and extensive examples of how different parenting styles lead to often unintentional emotional neglect of the child. Essential reading.

 

 

Conclusion – The Future is The Past Healed

If we fail to attach securely in our early relationship, we are in a continuum of fear, which eventually results in a “panicked organism” and the “fear-driven brain.”

We have no explicit memories of this time, but as van der Kolk explains in his book titled “The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma”, you may not remember early trauma, but your body does.

Time does not Heal it Conceals

It is possible to assess your level of developmental trauma through careful self-exploration, reading, journaling, and talking about your experiences with a trusted friend or professional practitioner.

Awareness can help resolve trauma, and explains why you may feel the way you do, or why you have certain chronic illnesses.

Finally, having an explanation, and understanding that you are not “crazy” goes a long way towards calming the chronic fight-flight response and will set you on the road to recovery.

Related Articles:

How to Deal with Energy Vampires and Detox Your Relationships

How to Deal With Cultural Energy Vampires

Dealing with Emotional Detox Reactions

Get Your ACE Score

This article belongs to The Abundant Energy Expert ! The original article can be found here: “Silent ACEs:” The Epidemic of Attachment and Developmental Trauma

The Abundant Energy Expert © 2017 - All Rights Reserved

38 Comments on “Silent ACEs:” The Epidemic of Attachment and Developmental Trauma

  1. calle
    March 15, 2017 at 2:57 pm (7 months ago)

    Wow
    Thanks for this great article.

    So many have such a rough road.

  2. Niki
    March 15, 2017 at 3:55 pm (7 months ago)

    Thank you!

  3. damon
    March 15, 2017 at 5:04 pm (7 months ago)

    Very important and informative article!! Thanks

  4. paris constantinou
    March 15, 2017 at 5:05 pm (7 months ago)

    another greatly important article by Mrs Niki Gratrix!!great evidence that show the utmost importance of healthy social/emotional relationships in the formation of our psychosomatic health!!her research is of immense value for all of us..she is definitely one of the worlds leading pioneers in this field.a truly courageous and avant garde spirit!!

  5. Niki
    March 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm (7 months ago)

    Thank you Paris!

  6. Niki
    March 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm (7 months ago)

    Thank you!

  7. Dina
    March 15, 2017 at 5:41 pm (7 months ago)

    God Bless you, Niki, my greatest source of important information. All of this article pertained to me. Regarding my past and present. Too bad so many of our lives had to be ruined by narcissist mothers. And to make matters worse, we attract abusive mates! Now I know what my appeal is to abusive types.

  8. Niki
    March 15, 2017 at 5:53 pm (7 months ago)

    Thank you!

  9. calle
    March 15, 2017 at 5:57 pm (7 months ago)

    Knowledge is Power. So healing is possible.
    Make sure your physical body is healthy.
    Healing is a journey.
    Hugz

  10. jojo
    March 15, 2017 at 11:27 pm (7 months ago)

    How does the healing happen in the body as we become more self aware?

  11. calle
    March 16, 2017 at 12:39 am (7 months ago)

    Well we have to nourish it with good clean non GMO foods that are organic.
    Good sleep, healthy clean water, personal time to become who you want to be.
    After so many crisis for over 25 yrs I have to learn to be calm, centered, creative, and get off the rack track.
    Breathing deeply, doing what you can, finding some passion, good friends and family.
    I actually stayed in one place for four whole months. Unpacked my suitcase after many years.
    Giving up something can mean taking your life back.
    Living cleanly, meaning lowering your chemical exposures can do wonders.

  12. Niki
    March 16, 2017 at 2:26 am (7 months ago)

    Hi there. Good question. When we become more self-aware, our stressful reactions to events and life circumstances can calm down – we become less wired and keyed up – more centered. This alone puts the biology into a restful healing state. Sleep improves, as does digestion and detoxification. Gene expression changes toward promoting anti-inflammatory pathways when we are calm and centered. In addition – with more self awareness we notice our own destructive health patterns more clearly, like over-working, over-giving or perfectionism – with awareness we can stop and release these patterns. When we become aware of repressed or disassociated emotions they can finally be felt, acknowledged and released -which frees up energy for body repair mechanisms. Really awareness is prerequisite for any healing as you first need to be cognitively aware that you need a certain type of therapy, approach or modality too. Hope that helps/makes sense. Niki

  13. Kimarina
    March 16, 2017 at 7:23 am (7 months ago)

    Me in a nutshell. I scored 10/10 on the original ACE test, and have since put myself in counselling. After a year, I’m making solid progress. But funnily enough, I’ve attributed more of that to my own search for understanding outside of therapy. So much of what you post, and what I’ve heard on many of the health summits you’ve shared, has hugely increased my awareness of my complex trauma history and how it has impacted my life and health. Far far beyond a weekly one hour session with a counsellor. Even this article has answered anew some questions I’ve had. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, emotional dysregulation issues and disassociative disorder, (which is fine as it makes me eligible for funding for therapy, etc), but I’ve always understood the core of my problems to be rooted in generational patterns and lack of secure attachment with a primary caregiver. I did that survey mentioned above, and sure enough, I’m fearful-avoidant, insecure in myself and with others. Probably didn’t need the survey to tell me that. But I do want to thank you for even your comment in the comments’ section about healing. That there is hope too, and how it generally works.

  14. Niki
    March 16, 2017 at 9:18 pm (7 months ago)

    Hi Kimarina – this is a powerful comment thank you – and it will help many others. I wish you the very best in your ongoing recovery, warmly Niki

  15. Martha
    April 12, 2017 at 4:06 pm (6 months ago)

    Thank you for this really revealing article. I would like to point out that it appears that the DSM 5 wants to label PTSD victims as only those who can recall specific events. If the mother rejected her baby during the first 2-3 years of life, that baby will not be able to recall those events as an adult. The “strange situation” tests may be revealing at least some of those events that will cause PTSD. It doesn’t take a major event to cause it, only something that creates terror. The first time the baby experiences a stranger in the room may cause terror, but is far too young for observers to even notice the symptoms. The baby in terror might not even cry, because that reflex gets squelched by the parasympathetic reflexes (freeze or faint) which would be more prominent in a baby than an older child who has developed more sympathetic reflexes. When a mother ignores a baby most of the time, the baby learns that is what he/she can expect in life and so ends up treating the mother the same as a stranger when observed by the researchers. The researchers may just be coming in on the tail end of a process.

    It also makes it difficult for practitioners to realize how a very minor thing llike turning the lights on in the middle of the night, or eating tomatos might trigger flashbacks that do not involve any images coming to mind at all, but the panic attack symptoms do occur. They can include breathlessness, hot flashes, feelings of paralysis, especially in the shoulders, unwillingness to move, or just an extreme discomfort that cannot be described in terms of specific sensations, and can only become apparent to the victim when they can say they feel enormous anxiety, disgust, wishing they were somewhere else but cannot leave. Other sensations might be recalled but not consciously because the brainstem is triggered in the flashback. The sensations/symptoms might be associated in the brain with the original event, but the details of that event are too difficult to recall because the event occurred before all the new fiber tracts were laid down during the first 2-3 years. Events are not stored in memory in one location but the person must track down all the locations where the parts are stored, generally all those locations involving sensations.

    It doesn’t mean that very early memories can never be recalled, because you can do it with mind-body medicine techniques, which can include asking the brainstem questions it can understand using muscle reflex/response testing (Appllied Kinesiology) or even some level of hypnosis. I did it with MRT and tracking down the centers in the brain which light up with the attacks. Of course you have to train the brain to look for these “trails,” but it is possible, since so many have been associated with panic attacks but are not considered important enough because their role is not understood. In fact it appears that psychologists do not recognize how much the brainstem figures in memory storage.

    One psychiatrist I know uses truth serum to get the details (but so far I only know that it was used on people whose childhood trauma mostly occurred in the pre-teen years, or the person was loved by an aunt who could replace the mother in the bonding process).

    The reason why the DSM won’t recognize early childhood trauma as resulting in PTSD is that it just can’t recognize the symptoms in babies yet. There are too many psychologists and psychiatrists who are completely unaware of the freeze or faint reflexes. And there is such a stigma on the mother that she will be the last person to seek treatment for her baby or herself if she fears the consequences for being a “bad mother.” Our justice system is too quick to jail them for neglect without asking all the questions or referring them to something like adequately funded social services.

  16. Niki
    April 12, 2017 at 4:54 pm (6 months ago)

    Very interesting comment. I suspect neurofeedback would be another way to address pre-cognitive trauma as well.

  17. Martha
    April 12, 2017 at 5:19 pm (6 months ago)

    I combine MRT with mindfulness, so in that way I use neurofeedback. I have heard from others who also use MRT. There is a discussion about it at LinkedIn where there are many who have discovered as I have that it takes a lot of training the brain, developing mindfulness enough to recognize signals from the brainstem that get sent to the conscious neocortex, before you can use it with few mistakes.

    There is an element of telling you what you “want” to do, confirming many people’s fears, clearly calling on the quick response of dopamine/serotonin surge that takes place whenever a condition is “satisfied,” as happens with an answer that you get with MRT, among other processes. That answer could be “wrong.” You learn from other signals that the brainstem “wants” you to ask more questions. You learn this when you start to get “yes” when that answer doesn’t make a lot of sense. Your response to suspicious answers teaches the brainstem to also follow the trails associated with your suspect thoughts. You could follow a formula of questions to ask, but they have to change over time as your brainstem “learns” your patterns of thought (the signal patterns in the process of associations you run in your own brain).

    After 10 years of training I realize how little “control” you actually have over your thoughts. Yes, you can choose to think about certain things but you do so because your brain has already put them into a queue with a priority ranking. It brings in timing cells (in the Reticular Formation) to “ping” your conscious brain at a particular frequency, which increases as priority moves toward #1. If you track the timing that a thought enters your brain associated with a particular planned action, you will discover the frequency of the timing cells involved.

    This combination of mindfulness, MRT and the use of visualization of what is going on (e.g. using analogs or actual images of the brain parts involved) creates the same kind of learning that the standard methods of neurofeedback offer.

  18. Niki
    April 12, 2017 at 6:04 pm (6 months ago)

    And by MRT – what is that the abbreviation for?

  19. calle
    April 12, 2017 at 7:58 pm (6 months ago)

    Has anyone used Tuning Forks for brain and body healing?
    As there has to be physical manifestations to these Dx!

    Nutrition, whole body healing, check for Vax injuries, nutrient deficiencies, leaky gut.

    So much to learn, so many to heal.

  20. Martha
    April 13, 2017 at 3:21 am (6 months ago)

    I mentioned it in my first comment, Muscle Reflex/Response Testing (or applied kinesiology).

  21. Niki Gratrix
    April 13, 2017 at 5:00 pm (6 months ago)

    Hi Martha -ah yes – interesting. I use a type of bioenergetic testing as well. Energy work is important for trauma.

  22. Shasha
    May 24, 2017 at 5:39 am (5 months ago)

    Gluten may affect the whole family tree who may have low energy/may have addictions/depression/health issues etc which may affect interactions with parents and bonding.

  23. calle
    May 24, 2017 at 1:34 pm (5 months ago)

    My take as a nutritionist is that food additives, chemicals from all sources, lifestyle changes, leaky guts and EMF exposure is all impacting our lives.
    I research all the time, and what we do not know about out bodies is killing us.

    Several weeks ago I found a new probiotic that has been so positive for our family and me.

    Eating healthy, finding out what your food and chemical sensitivities are can be earth changing.
    Inflammation as with either GS or GI can mess us ones gut.

  24. Niki Gratrix
    May 24, 2017 at 7:22 pm (5 months ago)

    Yes – I would say – a holistic approach is best -we don’t want to ignore diet, gluten and lifestyle – and we don’t want to ignore the impact of our subjective states either – both matter…

  25. Patty
    July 1, 2017 at 4:42 pm (4 months ago)

    Very interesting discussion.as someone who has struggled for a lifetime , has looked under every rock( allergies, diet, gut, every energy modality, meditation, intense emotional work, therapy, on and on and on to the point I am 64 and in debt (but I’ll never give up trying). Is there really such a thing as recovery? I did emdr the last year and it was extremely intense but helpful, but although I’m physically very healthy (a miracle) I’m totally exhausted and it’s scary not to be able to work as much. After 3 months of the emdr, there was a session that was a break through. Although I’d had no memories just intense feelings, the psychologist was very skilled in guiding me through choking sensations. It happened several times do I thought I’d had sexual abuse but would never remember.then this once session I KNEW that my mother tried to strangle me as an infant.the feelings shot through me like a volcano, unbelievable experience, and I knew it was the truth.
    So sorry for rambling and no punctuation.am on my phone and had to ask/share even though I never write comments.
    I’ve come a long way in my spiritual journey but I wonder if I’ll ever release it alland live somewhat normal. It seems each time there’s an aha, there’s 10 more layers.I’m tired , discouraged.

  26. Niki
    July 2, 2017 at 12:01 am (4 months ago)

    Hi Patty – thank you for this comment and sharing your profound experiences working with ACEs. I understand the tiredness and discouragement, but believe it or not, this is another phase that can also pass. Some “soul nutrition” can transmute those feelings at any age and help you feel like a new person in the face of the most horrendous experiences. I’ve seen it many times – the resilience of the human heart never ceases to amaze me. Great to hear that you will never give up – I wish you some rest and rejuvenation time and the best of luck on your ongoing healing journey, I bet you have gathered tremendous amounts of wisdom along the way, Warmly, Niki

  27. YS
    July 24, 2017 at 6:29 pm (3 months ago)

    Wow Niki, what a great article. And there is no such a thing as coincidence. In the past few years I have been feeling really bad about myself, low self esteem, anxious and fearfull. I am a real perfectionist and achiever and have seen a CB therapist to help me understand where my perfectionism and anxiety stems from. She has helped me tremendously but I have always felt there is something deeper that we are not getting to the root of the problem. I was thinking to myself and thinking I have everything I need, a good job, awesome friends, have a degree, great family and still I feel so unhappy. but why? and then I remembered that my mom told me that when I was born my mom slept for two days straight and I was taken to the baby ward. Obviously I cant remember that but this is exactly what I am feeling. Just missing the love from a mother. I dont blame anybody but I do feel what I feel. This article and your talk on the immune defense summit just confirms everything I have been feeling and thinking.
    As you say awareness is already a great step in the right direction but how do you actually make up for this? I know my mom loves me now but she still has a hard time showing emotions. Can you heal without needing people outside of you to change?

  28. Niki
    July 24, 2017 at 6:53 pm (3 months ago)

    Hello! so first, YES you can learn to feel self love again after attachment trauma. It takes focus and and commitment to recondition deeper semi-conscious feelings but it can certainly be done. Sometimes external professional support can be helpful but not always essential. So consider there is aspect of you, a type of subpersonality that feels alone, abandoned and low self worth. First, you may not be completely aware when this part is activated and you are feeling it (which usually leads to “acting out” like defensive behavior with others, neediness etc), so part of the recovery process is self-inquiry and simple self awareness – regularly checking in with yourself throughout the day and asking yourself how you are feeling in the moment. Once you identify this subpersonality is expressing, there are many things you can do. One is stop, acknowledge and breathe. Show this part of yourself you are aware of it and have no judgement at all about it. Acknowledge overtly this part of you feels like this because of attachment trauma. It is not who you are. Then consciously speak or write a positive sentence to this part of yourself to reassure it, let it know everything is ok, and it is now in a safe space. You can use additional support like rub and breath in the essential oil Ylang Ylang, this will help alchemize the emotion. Take a walk in nature. Do EFT tapping on it if you know how to do that. This just scratches the surface to give you an idea, but processes like this will need to be done many times. If there is a lot of conditioned stress, daily meditation is essential, even some neurofeedback. If there is a discreet painful incident, EMDR with a practitioner may be needed. Bioenergetic work with infoceuticals may transmute it. Setting an intention for transmuting it before bed may lead to clearing it during dream state. Physical interventions like treating gut dysbiosis, nutrient deficiencies and metabolic imbalances (e.g. pyroluria) are also important. A high resonance diet is important for feeling positive feelings! For others, especially where there was a lot of emotional neglect in childhood, speaking to a practitioner may be needed where the patient/client needs to retell (or tell for the first time) what happened in childhood. A new story may need to be expressed verbally. I could write a whole course on this – wait – that is exactly what I am doing lol – but this should give you an idea! Hope this helps a little.

  29. YS
    July 24, 2017 at 7:13 pm (3 months ago)

    Thank you so so much Niki for your response. I am really happy to read that there is hope.
    I would love to know more about the course.
    You sound like an awesome and knowledgeable person 🙂

  30. Niki
    July 24, 2017 at 7:57 pm (3 months ago)

    Thank you! For now I recommend ensuring you have signed up to my free ebook on the 7 Steps to Resolving Emotional Trauma at the homepage of https://www.nikigratrix.com – then you will receive email notification about my course when it is ready. Thank you and good luck in the meantime!

  31. Martha Hyde
    July 25, 2017 at 3:38 pm (3 months ago)

    I like the response to your question, YS, from Niki. I too suffered from rejection by my mother. I read how Bessel van der Kolk uses group therapy to heal specific memories by PTSD patients. Members of this group play out the scene as representatives of those involved in the traumatic event, but change the behavior to one of support, helping the members replace the bad memory with a good one.

    I used a similar method in dream therapy. I figured out that dreams are just the way the brain tests circuits it has just repaired, making your neocortex help out by doing the analysis and supplying the brainstem with other associations in the memory that need repairing. You can “tell” the brain (early on in this level of training you have to tap on the “tender” spot on the chest mentioned in EFT training, and speak out loud) to replace the bad person (your mom) with someone who you know who would have been nurturing to a baby. It helps to use Muscle reflex/response testing (MRT) to ask questions about who to use and what memories you need to address, since obviously you cannot access those early childhood memories, despite still being stored in the brain.

    You can tell the brain to go back through all the traumatic events you experienced in the first three years of life, and replace your mother or “bad” person with a “good” person and use the response that good person would have had. This helps by causing the brain to add up the “good” outcomes to crowd out the “bad” responses. By doing this, the “bean-counters” in the brain achieve enough good responses to create the centers that normally were done in those with nurturing mothers, but not in you. It takes time, but it works. I feel the change every month. It has made a world of difference to my moods and interactions with others. It also tends to remove nightmares from the archive, too.

  32. Dan
    July 28, 2017 at 5:00 am (3 months ago)

    This information is so interesting… I wonder if one can work backward from the four attachment types and consider that if they fit one to a tee, they can assume that there was some kind of attachment challenge with their mother. In looking at the “Dismissive persons(low anxiety, high avoidance) type, do you know of any more clarification on what the mother “who is not expressing emotional love for their baby” and “possibly rejecting” is doing? Is there anything that relates this to a quality of lack of empathy even though the mother is doing all the physical things and basic necessities the child needs? Empathy or lack thereof in the parent? How does it relate to the attachment types? One would think it relates to the Avoidance type? I’ll look into the recommended books, but this article seemed to be very revealing… Thank you for the last paragraph that offers solutions for those who may be engaged with a health challenge that is not resolving and see themselves as displaying all the characteristics of the Avoidance type throughout life… Gotta do the work even if your ego is resisting… The person certainly would not want the dis-ease or the lack of intimacy dynamic… It’s interesting the Journaling keeps coming up in my life recently… From everywhere, the most recent being from John Sarno’s revealing ideas on repressed unconscious emotions(principally rage) being the real limiting factor in almost every chronic health challenge… The brain does not want the emotion to emerge because the person’s safety may be at risk if he/she expresses the emotion… So it facilitates a physical or mental debilitating state so the person will always be trying to get healed from that via doctors, diets, supplements, the internet, etc., hence the dangerous rage, shame, guilt, etc. will never be expressed… Makes a lot of sense if you think about it, if you actually had an event that you know affected you deeply(trauma), and you act like it did not affect you that much so as to be able to not appear “hurt” or “weak”, when in fact you may actually have had thoughts about getting revenge in some way. The brain says no because you may be in serious danger(job loss, subsequent money loss, jail, death, etc.) if the act was perpetrated… But by doing the kinds of exercises you are speaking of and acknowledging the pain, in a way that is not dangerous, the brain will not need to create physical pain/related symptoms in the body to protect the person… It is just amazing how powerful all of this can be with regard very challenging health states… And the therapies discussed from Martha above seem like they could be very helpful to reconditioning the nervous system and brain… PTSD? Why does recovering from this seem so difficult! Thank you Niki for the article…

  33. Niki
    July 28, 2017 at 5:06 pm (3 months ago)

    Hello – yes the Mother who is rejecting of her baby is lacking empathy. And yes generally she would have possibly been an avoidant type herself due to her own parenting. And agreed – people trying to resolve repressed emotions with diet and supplements is very common. Until they choose to face up to themselves and dive deep within, they may never be healed. The key to take away is that is it possible to resolve emotional trauma, it takes courage facing up to truths about ourselves, and to temporarily allow painful feelings to flow through us for release, but it is SOOOO worth it!

  34. Gizella
    October 4, 2017 at 2:45 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Nikki Thank You! Your article, the video you shared and this forum which gave a platform for fellow sufferers like Calle and Martha to engage with their valuable comments has been extremely valuable to me. It is the first time I have felt validated. Like Dan, I have so many pieces of the puzzle but no framework to provide validation or context. I am enormously grateful. Thank you

  35. Martha Hyde
    October 5, 2017 at 5:31 am (2 weeks ago)

    Thank you Gizella, keep on looking for help because you will find more available now than when I first started to look for answers. Niki has brought us some great posts with truly well thought-out answers.

    Dan, you referred to Sarno’s ideas on repressed rage. I discovered through the use of MRT and very strong self-reflection, that I was feeling rage at certain moments in my self-treatment. I did not recognize it as rage because it wasn’t anything like adult rage. I felt the tenseness of shoulder muscles and a very strong feeling of discomfort, e.g. wanting to leave the room immediately or wanting to scream. I had to ask my brain using MRT what emotion I was feeling, going through a list of various emotions. What I think the brainstem is doing in order to answer “yes” to such a question, is to look for the pattern of nerve signals it had experienced when I previously felt an emotion in the list and checked to see if they were the same signals as I was feeling at the time I asked. Rage was a surprise. But I was definitely feeling the same kind of rage a baby could feel. After all it is helpless and the only thing it can do is scream, wave arms or try to roll over. It couldn’t throw things or kill someone, like an adult might do when enraged.
    The fact that I dd not recall feeling this kind of rage before may reflect the fact that it was a very strong negative emotion, and as such probably had a history of causing damage in neighboring neurons. The brain is going to suppress such an emotion where it has a long history of causing damage. Suppression or blocking neural pathways is a recognized mechanism in the nervous system, so I wasn’t surprised to find it related to baby memories (which are probably also not recall-able due to the extensive re-wiring of circuitry during the first 3 years of life). So “acting” like the memory is not important to you may not necessarily be a conscious action but may be due to this blocking, rendering our “acting” as completely unconscious or reflexive.

  36. Martha Hyde
    October 6, 2017 at 2:16 am (2 weeks ago)

    see my note to Gizella

  37. Martha Hyde
    October 6, 2017 at 2:20 am (2 weeks ago)

    Another tactic everyone needs to do with the use of MRT (muscle reflex/response testing) is to guard against getting a “yes” answer when that is not correct. Remember that you are talking with a brain that the typical 2-year-old has, one that will say “yes” just to get a positive response from the adult (or feeling of satiety in the brain). The brain has a lot of satiety centers all over it. I think they operate much like the checks a computer programmer puts into code. They check answers to previous computer subroutines just to be sure they are valid or likely. The satiety centers in the brain act to be sure that the brain responds correctly (according to previous responses) to various physiological states. You have to inform your brain to “just say no” if it doesn’t understand the question, or needs to know more. Many times it will say “no” after that because it still hasn’t figured out the answer and is working on it. Then you ask “Do you need to know more?” Sometimes the answer doesn’t come for hours or days. Sometimes the answer changes over the years you are training your brain. It takes time to be able to rely on this method for most things like repairing your brain.

    One’s questions in MRT work to guide the brain to finding an answer mainly because it searches for the same pattern of neural signals triggered in the past that more closely matches the ones uses to ask the question. It is not that the brainstem “understands” the words. It understands the outcome of the neural patterns associated with the words, the images that come to mind as one speaks, the sensations the body feels, and all associated centers and neurons with the concepts one is trying to convey.

  38. Martha Hyde
    October 6, 2017 at 2:29 am (2 weeks ago)

    Patty,
    Patty, my mother tried to strangle me too and when I first found this out, I was in shock, deeply upset and it lasted for 3 weeks. But the choking sensations were very common all throughout my life at certain moments that I could never figure out why. Until I learned how to ask questions with MRT, (using mindfulness and visualization at the same time). A major piece of the puzzle got resolved when I figured out what my mother had done to me on the second day of life, stopped only when a nurse entered the room to ask her if everything was ok. Just 10 years ago, a chiropractor discovered that my C3 neural spine had never fused to the body of the vertebra when I went to him for severe neck pain treatment. Every time I lightly pressed on that area of my neck I would feel tingling. It all finally made sense to me just 7 years ago when I got these answers from my own brain. It had also told me that my manubrium had cracked as a baby, but since most of it is still cartilage at that time, no trace of that trauma would be seen in the adult bone. A baby doesn’t have much of a neck and the mother pressing her thumb against the top of the manubrium and her other fingers against the back of the neck, in an attempt to strangle, would very likely cause damage to those areas. Full fusion of neural spines and epiphyses in the backbone doesn’t occur until around 21 years of age. At birth, most neural spines are only held in place with cartilage, so it would be very easy to break that cartilage and prevent full fusion in a baby. You might be able to find skeletal evidence for your experience from a chiropractor who usually takes X-rays of an area before treatment.

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