How Trauma Affects a Child’s Brain

We all know that trauma impacts us emotionally, but does it also affect our intelligence?

A new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that children who witness their mothers being the victim of abuse, or experience physical or sexual abuse themselves, actually score lower on cognitive tests later in life.

Childhood is such an important time. Trauma in childhood can have lifelong consequences because children’s brains are developing.

We created a video to show you 4 ways that childhood trauma affects the brain − it’s only 4 minutes long.

Click here to sign up.

We’ll be getting even more into how trauma affects the brain in the webinar Wednesday, May 30th at 5PM EDT with Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD, one of the leading experts in the field of childhood trauma.

Here’s a preview of what we’ll cover in the webinar:

  • Four important deficits found in people with early childhood trauma
  • The effect of childhood trauma on relationships − and what this means for treatment
  • How trauma alters connections within the brain
  • Strategies to repair the three areas of self damaged by early life trauma
  • The unique benefits of using a Stage-Oriented Approach to treatment

You can attend the webinar for free, you just have to sign up.

What are your thoughts on the effects of early life trauma? Please share your comments about the video below.

 


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22 Comments

  1. Aimee, Doctor's Assistant, Waldwick, NJ says:

    where do I get help? I suffer in all of these areas due to all of the abuse I suffered and survived in my childhood.

  2. Janet McIlvaine says:

    This is a spon-on, quick overview of childhood trauma effects. I’m grateful that I had a counselor (Dr. Tony Ferretti) who broke these different aspects of recovery with me. Having his organized, pragmatic approach helped me feel less out of control and gave me hope that life could be so much better. And it is! Lucky me. And good for all of you helping your patients. The liberation you facilitate is priceless.

  3. Most of my adult life I have tested at second year college level. As a child I tested years beyond my educational level, near genius level. Yet, I was molested nearly every day of my life from about age 3 to 16. By two men. I learned faster and had better coordination than my siblings. As an adult, drugs, alcohol, and risky behavior were all ways of a life for me. Being masculine was the way to life.

    The lack of emotion has been an issue all of my life. Yet, I have always been told how happy I was. Getting in tune, learning to be safe in my body and emotions has been a huge challenge.

    I am so grateful for the work I have been given to do. The skills that have finally come to me and ways of healing. I am also very excited about the new findings.

    Thank you.

    I use EFT, Somatic Experiencing, and meditation. DBT was also a huge help.

    Bless you.

  4. Marilynn Dempsey says:

    Please contact me regarding and information pertaining to trauma.

  5. Jacqeline Baird says:

    I am disheartened that you said it was free, but it is far from it….

    • Ruth Buczynski says:

      Jacqeline, thousands of practitioners watch these webinars every Wednesday night for free.

      Ruth

  6. charles Bent says:

    A friend of mine directed me to Ruth Buthyncynsci. I would love to listen to all the webinars , but usually I am working when these things are on. Right now I am not comfortable with the $150.00 fee for the Gold card membership. I have childhood trauma, military Trauma (former prisoner), Jailhouse trauma. My work isn’t steady ,but the effects of trauma are. Could I get a deal on that Gold Membership?

  7. Elaine Dolan says:

    That is Steve G. Jones, for the NLP/Hypnosis recordings….I finally listened to one out of Windows Media…still cannot get this sync’d to my Walkman.

  8. Elaine Dolan says:

    I would truly love to confront those who coined the word *Raddish* for those of us who endured the abusive and neglectful treatment that gave me RAD as an infant. They do not belong in this profession. The DSM is a fancy way of saying some folks are superior to others. There is no love there.

  9. Elaine Dolan says:

    If it were not all about money and sex, understanding assistance would come with being born.
    I’ve spent all the money I earned on unraveling what was perpetrated on me. That’s a fact. The medical profession held hands with my mother because neither wanted to be responsible for what occurred.

    Recently,I have been offered the tools to rewire my brain– at a lowered cost from Steve S. Jones, the Hypnotist and NLP educator. The ridiculous frustrating part of it is..TECHNOLOGICAL…either I am not downloading these correctly into my Sony Walkman or the format of his inductions does not match the proprietary technology (and this format discrepancy is not transparent with the instructions). Hah! So I have to buy a new device- even when the *old* one was almost never used? I will try again to contact Sony and perhaps pray that Steve’s offer still holds.

    Steve’s generous attempts are way-appreciated!!!!! Would YOU buy these if they do not play on your equipment? I downloaded one session called PASSION, hoping to re-ignite whatever my passion is in this life– perhaps this thing is about sexuality, for all I know…but I wanted to see if it loads to my Walkman. Windows Media says it is loaded–and it does not show up on this device!!

    Right now what I still perceive of the world that hurts is the system’s holding firm to no PERSONALIZATION….non-touch in the early moments after birth between mothers and babies is still enforced in some hospitals. If cranial touch and rolfing had been used right after my birth…there would have been no wolfy-teeth,no lowered palate, no deviated septum, my 125 IQ would have been much higher –I even remember it before they allowed me to go catapulting out on my head.

    But shame, deception and continuing the LIE of my being ever wanted made me clear that the only way to be *helped* was by being self-reliant. There was NO ONE to help with understanding the nature of the emotional wound, even by most psychologists- flagrantly about sex and money. No one dares to grog how all babies feel EVERYTHING; read vibes to the max.

    Incidently, thank you for allowing this forum in a mostly harsh and self-centered world.

  10. Laura Cassidy says:

    Early Trauma for sure affects IQ and EQ I have personally felt the awful effects of feeling like I have a diminished capacity because of what I lived through I couldn’t learn in many areas and struggled a lot in other areas. I feel that trauma largely diminishes problem solving thoughts as well. I have felt so broken mentally and emotionally as a result of early trauma school and work were and are tough to handle. I would add that early trauma causes a lot of mental disability and it might make someone appear intellectually disabled I have really had that experience and I know others who have too. I wish that hypnosis and other therapies were more accessible to those on low incomes. I also hope for everyone that they heal and find the places in life that do fee safer and healing. I would like to work in victimology and help others find resources to heal. I am so happy to know people are doing so much to help in the field of trauma.

  11. Laura Cassidy says:

    I can attest to early trauma being debilitating. I am a survivor of early trauma and multiple types of abuse. Even after many years and different therapies I struggle to recover. I never got addicted to things but I struggle in all areas of life and to feel joy or like others.
    I did Emdr and it helped some but not a lot. After trauma happens if a person doesn’t get help soon after
    the trauma can take an awful toll. I hope more advances are made in Trauma Research and therapies.

  12. Anna Verhesen says:

    I have had great success with Imagery and Sound
    I liked what I havw seen so far. Looking forward hearing the rest of the information

  13. Wow! This perfectly addresses a thread that has become VERY long on facebook. I posted a link to the video there. Someone said, “suicide is always an option” and we began talking about how early childhood trauma sets the stage for suicide.

    Four times as many men commit suicide as women. I wanted to commit suicide when I was very young – I had a clear picture of taking a knife to my heart and pulling very hard – fortunately, I could not reach the sharp knives in the kitchen. And an “angel” voice posed a question I had to acknowledge was true: “What makes you think it would be any different if you were to die?” Yet the wish to be dead followed me until around age 25 and suicidal ideation visited again when i was in my early 50s… and I have spoken to other circumcised men and women who also share stories about VERY EARLY suicidal ideation.

    I believe that circumcision is an avoidable trauma – at least avoidable for parents and doctors – since they make the decision – and that it should end. All the descriptors Ruth uses in this little video perfectly describe me and my circumcised colleagues.

    When women ask, “How can he BE/THINK/ACT/TALK like that?” they might remember that a vast majority of American males were subjected to this torture at birth and that if an adult was to be held down and cut on his genitals, we would definitely call the event “torture” and “assault and battery”.

    Additionally, the entire modern medical birthing industry is extremely harsh and traumatizing. If anyone has a vote in the birth process – please exercise it. Animals birth gently in private. Our industrialized births feature a (usually) noisy crowd of strangers, wearing masks, staring, poking, prodding, drugging, using metal instruments – creating undue trauma for both mother and baby.

  14. Donna Read says:

    This series is wonderful and I highly recommend it. However, I am wondering why it is advertised as being free when I have already paid for it? Would appreciate understanding how this works. Thanks much, Donna

    • Ruth Buczynski says:

      Donna, the series is free if you listen at the time of broadcast. If you’d like to have the links so that you can record the audio and/or the videos and listen at your convenience, you sign up as a gold member. When you do, you also get the transcripts of each call as well as two bonus calls, and you also help us fulfill our mission to provide the series to everyone listening at 5PM EDT Wednesdays. Several thousand practitioners do so that you for your support.

      Ruth

  15. I do believe that trauma does affect the mind especially in children, if DID is to be considered as a mental problem that truly does exist and I do believe that it does. It stems from Trauma as a child. I will be attending this webinar, because I believe I can glean some more information from it.

  16. Could you please give us a link to the study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health?

  17. sorry here is a short video of my model. easy simple and cost free. We heal when we are on our own between sessions.

    http://ptsdawayout.com/2012/02/28/a-new-film-from-the-studios-of-my-back-jacuzzi-parlor/

    • Marty says:

      The link attracted some traffic, so here is another short video on the breathing track.

      This makes mindfulness easier. It lets clients see and touch and follow their breath. Meditation and mindfulness are to abstract to entice a novice. This simple track fixes that.

      http://ptsdawayout.com/2012/05/27/the-breathing-track-secrets-i-think/

      Handle triggers and symptoms fade, cortisol is dispersed and our parasympathetic nervous system takes over. I find keeping the ego in the background is a much happier and freer way to live.

  18. excellent article and video. I went agoraphobic for six moths on my round about journey.

    Finally, I found a way out. Mindfulness and acceptance were mainly the tools of everyday practice. Even a stint at a Zen center to enhance My focus skills.

    Then as calm entered my life again, I found this passion to condensed and simplify a model to use every day. When Rick Hanson wrote in Buddha’s Brain that “Who am I” has no subject a light went off. We create the ego that judges everything. Then we can recreate with affirmations and positive self talk.

    Some of the essential pieces to bring the stuck parts to integrate in present moment. We can program the left computer hemisphere for something closer to our true self, we are perfect.

    now I needed a simplified model for meditation. Such abstract connotations some negative surrounding the word meditation. Takes way to long for most people to master it enough to work under the stress of the fight or flight mechanism.

    I read two books in fear and the adrenal stress response. our triggers explode like the large jolt with tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skills along with hearing loss. blood is pumped to our extremities as BP, heart rate, and respiration spike. This is where trauma is at is most powerful and weakest.

    if you can develop focus on the breath to stay present when our false trauma fear explodes integration begins. trauma fuels with dissociation. The longer time spent in thought the more power it gains. The more time spent present the less power. Hanson again, What fires together wires together.

    So I designed a model for the breath to follow. it is specific, concrete and brings more senses to bear for our awareness practice. Now we can with eyes open trace our breath when a trigger thought explodes.

    We can slow the breath and let the thought fade from our consciousness. Stop this engaging of thought and improve dramatically. dissociation slows and all other symptoms disappear. my model lets you see the breath and hold the model. that brings in more of the frontal lobes for our awareness.

    This model also balances the breath and brings focus on the transitions or pauses. You have to deal with or face thoughts some time in the healing process. This is actually meditating but it can be present as a focus exercise.

    Marty.

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