Brain development and trauma in relationship to attachment

brain development and trauma in relationship to attachment

Attachment, the emotional bond formed function of the developing infant's brain . and relationship brings the expectation of safety, appreciation, joy and pleasure. Trauma, Attachment and Brain Development . absence of vocalization, absence of relationship to others, and the impression that the child is beyond reach. Attachment Trauma This is especially harmful in a developing brain. The relationship between traumatic childhood experiences and physical and emotional.

The time and the developmental phase of the child during which these experiences take place are of very great significance.

Seeing the Unseen- Early Attachment Trauma and The Impact on Child′ Development

The expanding of our perspective on early childhood adverse experiences imposes itself. This expanded vision might serve as a basis for a new classification which has implications for recognition and assessment and enables us to incorporate this in clinical practice, early intervention strategies and treatment. Generally, abuse and neglect sexual, physical, emotional, psychological are defined as attachment trauma. I want to expand this definition by including different factors which might occur in the care giving relationship and affect the development of the child and the attachment ability.

Hence, I consider multiple adverse experiences in a dysfunctional attachment relationship as attachment trauma. Thus, we might then assume that the care giving relationship itself might be the source of trauma.

From the prenatal period, adverse experiences in the mother or in the mother- child relationship, might negatively impact and influence the unborn child. Not only the condition of the mother physical and emotional but also her relationship towards her unborn child can be detrimental. Birth trauma might also have a profound negative effect on the mother and child and interfere with the attachment possibility. We consider as birth trauma: According to Bowbly [ 2 ], the attachment relationship is a continuous relationship throughout life but the most influential period is the one from the prenatal phase up until the age of four.

How Your Childhood Affects Your Relationships - The Attachment Theory

This period is considered to be crucial in the establishing of a healthy attachment bond. If in this period any disruptions in the attachment bond occur in the form of physical or psychological inaccessibility, attachment trauma might be caused. Separation from, early loss of, changes in primary caregiver are, along with parental illness, divorce, a few examples of physical disruptions.

Attempt to commit suicide, marital problems, parental psychopathology, maternal dissociation and more, might cause psychological interruptions.

Another important feature of attachment is the quality of parenting. As stated previously, there are a lot of conditions necessary to form a healthy and secure attachment relationship. Then the child felt powerless to elicit care and protection. This is a frightening experience. Apart from a dysfunctional attachment relationship there might also be a lot of stressful events in the life of the child and caregiver that interfere with the attachment ability and cause attachment trauma.

Some examples are frequent moves or placements, early medical interventions, a chaotic environment.

brain development and trauma in relationship to attachment

The awareness of all these possible traumatic experiences has a tremendous implication on the development of prevention strategies and treatment. Early trauma in children can result in psychopathology such as PTSD, depressive and dissociative disorders.

It may result in Sensory Integration Disorder.

Trauma, Attachment, and Stress disorders: Developmental Issues

Another effect of early childhood trauma as Perry [ 15 ] stated: The child can overreact as it is unable to interpret the communication appropriately. Early childhood trauma impacts the neurophysiology affecting the arousal regulation and might be expressed as hyperarousal and dissociation.

When there is a hyperarousal, there might be motor hyperactivity, anxietybehavioral impulsivity, hypertension, sleep problems. This shut down has implications for the attachment abilities. These symptoms should be considered as post-traumatic symptoms, which are often misinterpreted as symptoms of attention-deficithyperactivity disorder, autism, oppositional-defiant disorder, and learning disabilities. Early neurological damage of the prefrontal cortex, as a consequence of attachment trauma, might cause a failure "to acquire complex social knowledge during the regular developmental period and an enduring impairment of social and moral behavior " [ 17 ].

Conclusion The significance of raising awareness of the core principles of attachment, trauma and neurodevelopment speaks for itself. We need to practice to look beyond the PTSD features and broadening our vision on trauma experiences.

If we are able to look beyond what is obvious, we might develop early prevention strategies, improve practice and provide a tailor-made therapy. A proper assessment of the child, the parent and the relationship between the parent and the child might reveal issues we can assimilate in the treatment. The unique experience of the child is determinative for us to understand and honor our children and our clients.

Sensitizations of both parents and clinicians about the importance of the early relationship between child and caregiver have to be organized. Stress symptoms range from those of PTSD, to depression, anxiety, learning problems, social disorders and chronic physical health problems. Moreover, because the brain remains flexible throughout life, nonverbal communication retains the capacity to change. Studies in people over age ninety show us images of mature brains that continue to produce new neural pathways at a time when older pathways are dying.

The same experiential and social factors that profoundly shape the brain initially can also be instrumental in repairing the causes and symptoms of stress related disorders. Attachment, the emotional bond formed between an infant and its primary caretaker, profoundly influences both the structure and function of the developing infant's brain.

Failed attachment, whether caused by abuse, neglect or emotional unavailability on the part of the caretaker, can negatively impact brain structure and function, causing developmental or relational trauma. Early-life trauma affects future self-esteem, social awareness, ability to learn and physical health. When the attachment bond goes well, neurological integration develops normally, and relationship brings the expectation of safety, appreciation, joy and pleasure. If the attachment bond was unsuccessful and traumatizing, neural dysregulation and memories of a failed relationship become the basis for adult expectations of intimacy.

Fortunately, relationships with secure adult partners can bring about emotional healing in insecure partners. To learn more about how early attachment bonding influences adult relationships see article Relationship Advice: Attachment isn't the only thing that creates early-life trauma. Neurological dysregulation, brought about by neurologically disabling experiences in the womb and at birth, is also traumatizing and interferes with the attachment bond.

brain development and trauma in relationship to attachment

If the dysregulation isn't severe, a good attachment can help bring about neurological regulation in a dysregulated baby. To learn more about infantile attachment read the article Parenting: Attachment, Bonding and Reactive Attachment Disorder. There is a correlation between early trauma and resiliency or vulnerability to highly stressful experiences later in life. People who have been traumatized as infants and young children are more at risk for traumatic experiences later in life.

brain development and trauma in relationship to attachment

Stress is an essentially normal response to feeling overwhelmed or threatened. Fight, flight and freeze are survival responses that developed to protect us from danger. In moments of stress, hormones release and, as our heart beat speeds up and blood pressure increases, we breath quicker, move faster, hit harder, see better, hear more accurately, and jump higher than we could only seconds earlier.

These neurological and physiological changes enable us to better protect ourselves in the moment. But once the danger has passed, our nervous systems calm down and we return to a state of equilibrium or neurological balance. Positive stress can produce feelings of exhilaration and opportunity. Not all people experience stress in the same way. Much has been written about the disadvantages of stressful life styles that keep us running on overwhelm and create constant physiological stimulation so that our bodies are kept from returning to a quieter calmer state of balance.

But social and life style changes can usually restore physiological and psychological balance. This is not the case when someone becomes traumatized. Traumatization promotes ongoing disability that can take many mental, social, emotional and physical forms. Like normal stress, trauma is also experienced differently by different individuals.

brain development and trauma in relationship to attachment