Monday, November 28, 2011

Valuing and Asserting Personal Worth vs. Maintaining Abusive Relationships


 "Describing how the brain changes in response to a child's experience, Bruce Perry wrote, 'Children are not resilient, children are malleable.' Trauma, neglect and abuse influence how synapses develop pathways, how neurons fire, how we translate incoming information...

"The baby learns how the caretaker will respond to his emotional needs, and from this, the baby begins generalizing his experiences and defines the world.

"The failure to consistently meet the infant's needs (emotional or biological) impacts the child's sense of self long before the pain influences her perception of the outside world. 'Unfortunately, the child will interpret this as a product of its own inadequacy,' J. Konrad Stettbacher notes.

"Dependent upon others for survival, the child believes that the cause of pain is his own self and he tries to adapt (they must be right; therefore, he is wrong). In response, he minimizes or relabels his own pain: 'It's not so bad.' Pain is always a signal that something has to change - how we respond to that pain reflects what we've learned early on.

"Similarly, the victim of emotional abuse things, 'If I were better, they wouldn't do this to me,' rather than, 'This other person is causing me pain and if she doesn't stop, she has to exit my life.'

"No infant has the ability to make that distinction - they blame themselves in order to hopefully fit the caregiver, alleviate the pain, and preserve that bond.

"Acknowledging pain is the vital first step in any self-defense. Acknowledging what 'hurts' identifies the boundaries that define each one of us... If a victim can decide whom to trust and then act on this decisions, (he or she will have) the resiliency to emotionally to defend himself...

"Resiliency acknowledges that there will be a cost. The former victim may lose a 'friend...'

"Doing so lifts the burden the victim assigned himself, but also presents a hard decision. To define one's self, there is a cost."

~ Heart Transplant by Andrew Vachss and Frank Caruso

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