This week’s reading is an article by Martin H. Teicher is a fascinating look at the neurological “damage” caused by child abuse and neglect. In this article, Teicher notes several changes to the hippocampus and amygdala (parts of the limbic system) caused by the stress of violence and neglect that lead to underdevelopment of the left hemisphere of the brain, borderline personality disorder, antisocial behaviour, social deviance, and aggression in adulthood. Teicher notes that these are not dysfunctions so much as adaptations to hostile environments that allow the individual to cope with and thrive in adverse environments. When you are exposed to a lot of violence and neglect as a child it makes sense that you might develop aggressive, defensive, and antisocial behaviours as ways of handling. As the author notes, “stress can set off a ripple of hormonal changes that permanently wire a child’s brain to cope with a malevolent world.” Unfortunately, as the authors note, these adaptations come at a cost, specifically increased “risk for obesity, type II diabetes and hypertension; leads to a host of psychiatric problems, including a heightened risk of suicide; and accelerates the aging and degeneration of brain structures, including the hippocampus.” (p. 75).
It is important to note that because almost all of us experience at least some level of violence and neglect in our childhood, the vast majority of us probably experience neurobiological adaptations of the type outlined in this article. These adaptations impact not only our mental, emotional, and intellectual health and functioning, as outlined in the article, but also our ability to connect with others, and our ability to make a healthy and undisturbed Connection between Bodily Ego and Spiritual Ego, which is of course the goal of Authentic Spirituality and the LP.
At this point, the question must arise, do these adaptations lead to permanent damage? More to the point, are people who have experienced serious trauma in childhood doomed to dysfunction and disconnection? That’s doubtful. As the article points out, new neurons are always being generated. Also, Cannabis, that marvel of natural healing, has been demonstrated to facilitate hippocampal neurogenesis (Jiang et al. 2005), with the implication that cannabis can help facilitate healing and reprogramming of the brain. To do that though, you’ll have to make some changes to your environment, face your addictions, change some of your ideas, stop lying to yourself (and others), look after your Seven Essential Needs, and so on. You have to apply the LP Healing Framework, in other words. You can find out more about that by reading LP Workbook Two.
In any case, if you are interested, here is this week’s readings.
Jiang, Wen, Yun Zhang, Lan Xiao, Jamie Van Cleemput, Shao-Ping Ji, Guang Bai, and Xia Zhang. 2005. “Cannabinoids Promote Embryonic and Adult Hippocampus Neurogenesis and Produce Anxiolytic- and Antidepressant-like Effects.” The Journal of Clinical Investigation 115 (11): 3104–16. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI25509.