Thursday, October 13, 2011

Looking Beyond Abuse

The social self.Image via WikipediaWhen I started this blog, I thought that it would be enough to discuss all the different ways that domestic violence could be seen and understood.  Although I'm sure I haven't provided an exhaustive source of information, I think I did a good job of getting some relevant information out there for people to use.  One thing that I haven't done is to look into some of the mental health issues that might be sources for abuse and how they can look with regard to relationships and parenting abilities.  With this post, I am going to start doing that.

There are many mental illnesses that have their roots in childhood abuse and neglect....just take a look at the nine personality disorders if you need convincing.  When children are abused, be it sexually, emotionally or tends to change them and often not for the better.  The ACE Study for example, is a study completed by Kaiser Permanente, a large HMO in the US.  It shows a direct correlation between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and physical illness in adults who scored above 4 on the test.  In other words, the more abuse, the greater the possibility of illness and physical problems as an adult.

In other studies done by Bessel van der Kolk, he has shown numerous times that there is a direct correlation between abuse/trauma and changes in the brain.  Children who grow up with an angry parent tend to develop anger problems themselves.  As an added benefit, these children often have deficits in self esteem, are depressed or formulate highly developed control issues.  Abuse and neglect produce more abuse and neglect, even if we look at it from the perspective of simple modeling.  If a husband treats his wife without honor, where is his son going to get the understanding that men and women need to treat each other honorably?

When speaking of mental illness, it can be separated into organic and non organic causes.  Beyond that there is a category of illnesses that no one is sure what the cause is.  Personality disorders can fall into that category.  They just know that with each one, there is a common denominator of abuse, neglect and/or trauma.  Modeling and conditioning would then be another common denominator with children coming from families that consistently model inappropriate behavior towards each other and/or conditioning which changes the normal way human beings relate to each other.

Lithography. Drunk father.Image via WikipediaWhen we look at abuse, it is common to see some mental health issues involved.  Besides the personality disorders there are Bi-Polar Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Depression as well as co-existing addiction issues.  Any kind of drug, alcohol, gambling, or sexual addiction can lend a contributing factor to abusive or neglectful behavior in a family, marriage or parenting relationship.  Abuse, in the majority of cases, does not come out of a vacuum.

The good news is that in the disorders which are organic, meaning they have physical causes, medication has shown to be a very good option in returning the person to an emotional balance. Some common organic disorders are BiPolar, Depression, Anxiety and Schizophrenia.  Others who would rather not use medication have found appropriate supplementation to work effectively in some cases.  When someone has BiPolar Disorder, in most cases when they have found the right supplement or medication in the right dose, they can lead a very normal and balanced life.  It then becomes their responsibility to take the medication as prescribed and stay in good contact with their physician to monitor their progress.  Developing a relationship with a good counselor is always advisable as it has been proven that medication alone or counseling alone in cases of BiPolar, Anxiety and Depression are not as effective as medication/supplementation and counseling together.

With non-organic disorders such as Personality Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other disorders that are based out of trauma, counseling can have a positive effect.  EMDR therapy is a proven and effective therapy which deals with trauma and has shown to be most helpful in cases of PTSD.  Behavioral therapies such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) work well in most situations of Borderline Personality Disorder if the person will commit to the process.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and different forms of spiritual counseling have shown to be effective in general when individuals have been traumatized.

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...Image via WikipediaIn these rather chaotic and trying times, it seems that the days of the lone ranger are coming to a close.  As human beings, we tend to function better in relationship with others than as separate and isolated people.  When we face challenges, working with another person or a team of people who have the ability to get you from where you are to where you would like to be is an option we all must consider.  If you are struggling with some issues, please seek out the help of someone you trust.  That may be a friend, a pastor, a counselor, your doctor or your naturopath.  Just make sure the person you seek help from has the skill set to be able to truly help you.  Friends and family can provide support, love and kindness when you truly need it but when that is not enough, please seek further assistance from a professional.

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