Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Childhood Trauma

By Lize Maritz and Kerry Swarts

Any trauma, even those from early childhood, have an impact on a person’s brainwave activity and thus also their functioning. When someone experiences trauma, the brain pads brainwaves at the temporal lobes, where trauma is stored, to protect the person against the trauma.

Depending on what kind of trauma occurred, either abandonment or infringement trauma, the padding will occur at either the left or right temporal lobe. This directly impacts coping mechanisms in conflict situations.  It can either put a person into fight-or-flight or freeze mode. Emotional results of these trauma’s will be rage, aggression, post traumatic stress, anger, irritation, frustration, fear of confrontation, lack of personal boundaries and combinations of these. Because your brain’s only concern is survival, you could hold onto these patterns forever.  If you have grown up in a house with a lot of screaming and shouting, your brain will reset your internal thermostat so that you are able to go on with things like eating and homework while you continue living there.  It means that you will be able to carry on with life but you will also always be on guard, you will always be waiting for the next thing to go wrong and you are never able to totally relax. 

Brain training allows your brain to see the pattern that your brain is holding on to and let it go or work out a new coping pattern.  When these imbalances are rebalanced, it means that a person might be able to deal with life situations in a more productive way.  Neurotherapy works incredibly fast at addressing these trauma’s.  It is almost like you are allowing your brain to “control, alt, delete” and reset the pattern of holding on to this. 

How does trauma manifest with children?

Jimmy Henderson is a qualified trauma counsellor and says that in cases where children do not yet have complex coping mechanisms, the most common symptoms might be: emotional paralysis, regular agitation, outburst of crying, inability to complete tasks (i.e schoolwork), not eating or sleeping (nightmares) correctly and physical symptoms such as diarrhoea, cramps etc. When they are older, they may speak of feeling afraid and helpless.
Claire agrees and says that it can also be expressed as disorganised or agitated behaviour. “Kids do not necessarily need to look bewildered as adults expect them to look, but that does not mean that they are okay.”
Examples of “Hidden” symptoms to watch out for are: Kids who cannot stay involved (settle) in routine games and want their mom or minder in constant sight. Younger kids might become upset when their parents aren’t around. They might struggle with sleep or suddenly develop problems with potty training or bedwetting. Kids can show signs of reliving the trauma in the following ways:
  • They might “portray” the trauma in subtle ways, for instance by ramming their toy car into a toy lorry to destroy it. This makes them feel in control because they were not during the original trauma.
  • Older kids might even re-enact certain parts of the trauma like putting a toy gun against the head of his teddy, or tying up their doll. It can also be done through drawings, games and stories.
  • Younger children may have terrifying dreams without being able to say exactly what they were dreaming about. Reassure them that it was only a dream and that you are there for them.
  • They might complain of physical symptoms or become irritated or aggressive.
  • They might experience fear and anxiety which does not seem to be caused by the traumatic experience.
Herbal help: Bacopa/Brahmi
Himalaya Bacopa/Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri) is a pure herb extract and a classic brain and nervine tonic. Countless studies show that Brahmi helps improve protein activity and protein synthesis, especially in brain cells. Bacopa, while invigorating the mind, also relaxes it. Its tranquilizing effects do not dull the mind as some synthetic sedatives can.

Benefits of Bacopa/Brahmi
  • Treats ADD and ADHD
  • Increases protein synthesis and activity in brain cells
  • Improves mental alertness, enhances learning and academic performance
  • Improves intellect, consciousness and mental acuity
  • Calms the mind and promotes relaxation
  • Improves memory, mental clarity and longevity
  • Decreases anxiety, restlessness and senility
To purchase Bacopa/Brahmi or for more information, contact Kerry Swarts: cell 076-4343-252 or kerry@brainharmonics.co.za

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