Humiliation – Far Reaching Effects on Children, Adults, Society

Humiliation

– Sarah Rosenberg, July 2003

Simple Definition
A leading researcher on humiliation, Dr. Evelin Lindner, defines humiliation as “the enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that damages or strips away their pride, honor or dignity.”[2] Further, humiliation means to be placed, against ones will, in a situation where one is made to feel inferior. “One of the defining characteristics of humiliation as a process is that the victim is forced into passivity, acted upon, made helpless.”[3] Johan Galtung, a leading practitioner, agrees with Lindner that the infliction of humiliation is a profoundly violent psychological act that leaves the victim with a deep wound to the psyche.[4]
Humiliation and Social Order
Historically, maintaining hierarchical societies meant that elites scrupulously guarded their honor against attempts to soil or humiliate it, while some form of more or less institutionalized humiliation was part of the reality for the lower echelons of a community. As long as such a reality is accepted as the norm, and it is believed that this structure helps to achieve and maintain common societal goals, the system is considered acceptable. Though some people in lower ranks may wish to be on a higher level, they do not view the system itself as flawed. By contrast, in societies such as Somalia, with its non-hierarchical egalitarian clan structures, Lindner’s research shows that attempts to humiliate people are fervently resented, at least by the males of the major clan families. The more egalitarian a society, be it pre-hierarchical or post hierarchical, Lindner asserts, the less use there is for institutionalized humiliation, particularly as a way to maintain order, and the less acceptable it is.
Humiliation and Human Rights
Lindner’s research on humiliation and the effect of humiliation on groups is related to her segmentation of human history into three phases of development and her categorization of the ideal types of human societies that can be found in these stages. Most relevant here is the connection between humiliation, conflict, and the human rights revolution.[5] When subordinate groups become aware of human rights values and adopt them into their value system, they reframe their formerly accepted subordination as humiliating circumstances that can no longer be deemed to be acceptable. In other words, when people redefine their situation and interpret formerly “normal” subjugation as structural violence, they begin to clash with the system. This clash can translate into violence. This can occur gradually, or a sudden change in power can lead to immediate devastating violence.
Why Paying Attention to Humiliation is Important
It is widely recognized that one of the main reasons for Hitler’s rise to power and the onset of World War II was the humiliation of the German people in the aftermath of World War I. Though perhaps less obvious, humiliation seems to be part of much suffering world-wide, and makes millions of peoples’ lives despondent. If violence between and within groups and nations is to be reduced, understanding the role of humiliation as a cause is critically important.
Humiliation, Trauma, and Victimhood
What is the difference between humiliation, trauma, and victimhood? The answer is both simple and complex. One may be traumatized without being humiliated. For example, one’s home may be destroyed by an earthquake, in which the victim may be devastated and traumatized but not humiliated. This differs from the situation in which soldiers kick someone out of their home in the middle of the night and bulldoze it or set the home on fire. This latter case exemplifies the use of humiliation as a weapon by some people upon other people. More still, one may even be a victim of violence without feeling humiliated. The difference between feeling humiliated or not in these cases may depend on the subjective framing of the situation by each person involved when violence is perceived as accidental and non-intentional, similar to natural disaster, it may not be felt as humiliation. Importantly, the more a victim is aware of human rights values, the more likely they are to feel humiliated. When one is acted upon in a way that undermines one’s sense of equal dignity, as it is enshrined in human rights, the psychological damage of humiliation is being inflicted. It is this damage that is particularly hard to recover and heal from. Lindner believes that humiliation is the necessary concept for defining victimhood as “victimhood” and as such has to be considered as the key ingredient that makes conflict comprehensible and thus preventable and manageable. According to Lindner, “victimhood at the hands of fellow human beings must entail the notion of humiliation, otherwise it would not be seen as victimhood but as pro-social event or natural disaster.”[6]
Responses to Humiliation — Hitler vs. Mandela
It is still somewhat of a mystery why responses to humiliation can differ so much. Lindner cites Hitler and Mandela as examples. Hitler chose to respond with war and atrocious acts of violence as a means of restoring national honor. His goal was to impose a new hierarchical world system with Germany on top. Mandela, on the other hand, opted for the enlightened path of peace and human rights for all of his countrymen. Mandela chose a healing track using dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation while still dealing with issues of justice as well. More research needs to be done to help explain why some choose a violent response to deal with feelings of humiliation and others choose peaceful struggle. But it is important to keep in mind that the “humiliation” factor in any conflict may well be the most difficult obstacle to overcome, and strong leaders are needed to prevent escalation of conflict through violence and bloodshed.
There are three possible outcomes to the effects of humiliation:
  • Acquiescence, or depression and apathy, nothing changes.
  • Antagonism, anger, rage, and the violent pursuit of change, often hierarchy is not abolished but merely reversed.
  • Antagonism, anger, rage, and the non-violent pursuit of change, including forgiveness and reconciliation, and the dismantling of hierarchy towards a human rights based system of equal dignity for every citizen.
Rage at the situation may overflow and a violent conflict may erupt as people try to change a system of humiliation. Human rights ideals indicate that humiliation and victimization of other have to eliminated, not simply the social hierarchy reversed. Mandela strove to abolish humiliation altogether in his society through wise social change, while Hitler used it as a core component of his campaign. Unfortunately, it seems easier to strike back and far more people in the world may feel the urge to resort to violence (though maybe not to the extent Hitler did) than there are those who would endure twenty seven years in prison, forgive their captors, and work with them to forge a united future. Better to avoid humiliation in the first place, lest we create more Hitlers, or, short of that thousands of suicide bombers.
[1] This essay is based on the work of Evelin Lindler, who sent us many of her papers, and corresponded via e-mail with me about the draft of this essay.  Our thanks to Evelin for helping with this topic.
[2] Lindner, Evelin G. Humiliation or Dignity: Regional Conflicts in the Global Village. Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial work and Counseling in areas of Armed conflict, forthcoming (2002), p.2.
[3] Lindner, Evelin G. Humiliation or Dignity: Regional Conflicts in the Global Village. Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial work and Counseling in areas of Armed conflict, forthcoming (2002).
[4] Paraphrasing of quotes taken from Johan Galtung as recorded in Lindner, E G Humiliation – Trauma that has Been Overlooked. Traumatology, Vol. 7, (March 2001).
[5] For more on Pride, Honor, and Dignity societies, see Lindner, E “What every Negotiator Should Know: Understanding Humiliation,” (2000), http://www.globalsolidarity.org/articles/what.pdf Lindner says that knowledge of human rights intensifies feelings of humiliation and that the humiliation factor is the hard core of any conflict. Another characteristic of humiliation is that when victims admire their humiliators they react more intensely when power changes hands. (Psychology of H.)
[6] Lindner. E-mail with the author, (2003).

Rosenberg, Sarah. “Humiliation [1].” Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2003 <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/Humiliation/>.
http://www.fsu.edu/~trauma/v7/Humiliation.pdf
http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/ShapiroNovNYConference.pdf
http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/evelin/Negotiator.pdf


The Effect Striking Our Children Has on Their Minds

Spanking Decreases Intelligence?

by Danelle Frisbie ©2009

The topic of spanking is not one I have thought much about – after all, most of my research surrounds birth and babies, and who (heaven forbid!) spanks a baby?! But new research suggests there are parents out there who are in the habit of spanking their 2-year-olds — and it may very well be impacting these little ones in detrimental neurological ways.
It makes sense – we know through ample research that the natural parenting techniques as old as humanity itself – such as babywearingand breastfeeding – dramatically increase neuro development and functioning, resulting in higher IQ, among other beneficial things. So it is not too shocking that the antithesis of peaceful parenting — forthright aggression on babies and children — may have just the opposite impact on their rapidly developing brains.

While completing graduate work in clinical psychology, I regularly administered personality inventories and IQ tests on ‘troubled’ children, and was then required to make recommendations per their treatment. Rarely was I afforded the opportunity to look into their home life — or examine more closely how these children were treated by family members or raised by their parent(s). I was required to ‘treat’ the problem, while never fully getting to the root of the cause.

The latest research from the National Institute of Mental Health and the University of New Hampshire claims a discovery has been made into one (small?) component of mental health and human intelligence. The results are intriguing. Murray Straus, who led the last two studies, says that spanking actually decreases IQ, and to a significant degree. Yes, you read that right: Spanking your child impacts intelligence (at least that which we can measure using intelligence tests and methodological quotients).

Straus led two recent studies – one conducted on a national level in the United States, and one on an international level. Parents of 1,500 young American children participating in an IQ research project were asked how often they spanked their children. Responses were compared with IQ results.

Results showed that children (age 2-4) who were not spanked at all had IQs that were, on average, 5 points higher, (and stayed higher for the next 4 years over the course of the study), than children who were spanked. Children to the age of 10 were included in the study and the same trend was found for older children as well. The impact of spanking on IQ, however, was most pronounced in the younger children. I suspect this may be in part because the brain is most rapidly developing (and most significantly impacted) until the age of about 5 years old when it is 98% complete.

[Side note: This is also likely the reason that natural, child-led weaning occurs around the same time – around the age of 5 – in the majority of the world and throughout human history, when breastfeeding-phobic social pressures do not cut it short. The developing brain is supplied with just the right concoction of building blocks via mother’s milk the entire time it is in rapid formation mode.]

Straus’ results are being published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma. In addition, Straus and colleagues are presenting the findings of their second (international) study on spanking and intelligence at a San Diego based conference on abuse and trauma this week.

In the international study, Straus interviewed university students in an examination of corporal punishment and IQ. After conducting research across 32 countries around the world, results showed a lower national IQ in countries where corporal punishment is common.

In the U.S. study various factors (such as parental education level and economic status) were adjusted for. The negative correlation between spanking and IQ held true (the less spanking, the higher the IQ; the more spanking, the lower the IQ). In the international study, parent’s education level and economic status were more difficult to adjust for.

Straus is a long time supporter of peaceful parenting and using multiple proactive strategies for discipline that do not include aggression or violence against babies and children. He has researched extensively on subjects such as aggression, violence, rape, and abuse within families.

These latest findings echo what we have seen in other studies: Peaceful Parenting (or Attachment Parenting) leads to lower stress hormones (such as cortisol) in babies and children, greater trust (in parents/each other/the world), secure attachment, and more complex neurological development and brain activity, among other things.

In the end, it may just be true that babies and children were born to be loved and tenderly, gently cared for – not physically acted upon in any form.

If you would like a pdf copy of these latest studies, message me and I will be happy to pass them along to you.

Quiverfull… Quiverful… Grab a blanket, light a fire, and stop quivering

I can hear responses the already, “This has nothing to do with raising children.”

I believe it does.  I see an integral and deeply woven internal, far and eternally reaching link… and I have never read anyone articulate these thoughts so superbly.

The truth is, not all men are cut out for leadership in the home or church. And for those with controlling, punitive, and demanding tendencies, the practice of patriarchy in the home will only exacerbate their insatiable egos and lend an air of spiritual credence to their tyranny and abuse in the name of “protection” and spiritual covering.

S O U R C E

The truth is, not all men are cut out for leadership in the home or church. And for those with controlling, punitive, and demanding tendencies, the practice of patriarchy in the home will only exacerbate their insatiable egos and lend an air of spiritual credence to their tyranny and abuse in the name of “protection” and spiritual covering.

The truth is, the woman who aspires to be a Proverbs 31 wife is setting herself up for failure. Often I have agonized over the overwhelming burden expressed by wives and mothers who feel they are not meeting the standard ~ they try so hard, and yet ~ there’s not enough of one woman to go around. Even with the help of the older daughters, the workload is ceaseless and the demands on her time and energy are bound to leave her feeling inadequate. Must be her lack of faith. Perhaps what she needs is to read another Vision Forum book or attend an Above Rubies conference wherein she’ll discover the KEY to making it all work, getting it all done.

Seriously ~ what Mothers of Many need is RELIEF ~ not another “revelation” about what truly constitutes the godly wife and mother. Not another pep-talk from Nancy to inspire her to “present her body a living sacrifice.” No more visions and bible verses to load her with guilt when she somehow doesn’t manage to reproduce the Garden of Eden within her godly home.

In the patriarchal world which I will no longer take part of, the Commanding Officers (the men) are forever waging war against the world and the devil. Wives and children are useful as foot soldiers and arrows in this daily battle for the Kingdom of God. Should a mother die in childbirth, she is hailed as a faithful, dedicated woman ~ hers is a martyr’s death. But if she should struggle ~ if she fails to reverence her husband despite his imperfections and failures to love her as Christ loves the church ~ if she should dare complain that she’s tired and overwhelmed ~ if she has a healthy self-preservation factor ~ or should she be a thinking woman who just can’t manage to adorn herself with that highly prized “meek and quiet spirit” ~ then she is a rebellious Jezebel ~ a reproach on the testimony of Christ. Likewise, the children are valued only in as much as they conform to the lifestyle chosen for them by their parents.

And here is where the children and their well being enter the scene…

It seems crazy that thousands of years later, we should be trying to emulate the family structure and gender roles of an ancient society which viewed women and children as property. Truthfully, I’m kind of pissed that I so willingly co-operated in my own oppression for so many years ~ I allowed myself and my children to be used to fulfill an egotistical fantasy of a man who desired to be king of his castle.

Patriarchy is a pretty sweet deal ~ for the man who gets a Proverbs 31 wife and a quiverfull of children like olive branches around his table. In that family set-up, Daddy reigns supreme. I know, I know ~ the teaching is that it’s actually the Lord Jesus whom the wife and children serve when they submit to and obey the father. And when I think about it ~ that’s so twisted! How convenient for the man that all this is clearly spelled out in the Word of God.

I suppose I shall have to expound upon my point and direction here, but first I must finish her article and let it sit for a while.  I hear this woman as if she were inside my head, and I have never once given a moment’s thought to the belief system she struggled in.  Well, not until now, at least.  So, I can’t quite formulate a logical response, mine would be entirely emotionally driven at this moment… give me a few.

A Biblical Perspective, Well Spoken

I came upon this blog today and want to quote a few of her words here, as well as encourage you to visit her entire post, and the continued posting of the same subject.

I believe this Mommy has an exceptional ability to discern and communicate regarding the subject of Bible based arguments for spanking/striking/physically punishing children.  She has a much more eloquent ability to address this side of the issue than I do and I hope you’ll take a moment to review her thoughts.

Is Spanking Biblical? Part 1: Proverbs

Let me begin by saying that each and every one of us parents before the Lord. Read what I say with open ears and a grain of salt, bring it before God, study the Bible for yourself. In this post, I will discuss what my husband and I have learned through our study of the Bible. In later posts, I will discuss other reasons why my husband and I have decided never to use spanking as a tool.

Proverbs 23:1-2 reads: “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you, And put a knife to your throat If you are a man of great appetite.” I would ask you to ask a few questions about these verses:

  1. Is this verse meant to be taken literally? Or are we supposed to gain a tidbit of inferred wisdom from reading it?
  2. Is this how we as Christians are told to deal with sin in our own lives? Are we to hold a knife to our throats, literally or figuratively, when confronted with temptation?  .. . .. .. …

… Let me get a little more technical. The passages in Proverbs that Christians hold to as advocating spanking (Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 23:13,14), are not talking about a young child, but a young man!! The Hebrews used specific words when referring to the different ages of children. I am going to quote from a book by Samuel Martin, who has a BA degree with a special focus on Middle Eastern studies, and who has worked closely with two Hebrew professors in Israel on an excavation trip and a survey trip. That is to say, he has studied Hebrew culture and language extensively.

Here, I would say that hitting a teenager isn’t any better advised than hitting a child, but the point is that if you’ve done your job guiding and building up the child from birth, as a last resort to keeping them from being stoned for their insolence as a teenager or young adult, you could try beating them with a large stick first.  Then, after their bruises heal, if they’re still hell bent on doing whatever it is that the community is against, then it’s the community’s problem. And if they end up stoned to death, I guess that’s that.

So what has been my husband’s and my conclusion? Proverbs was written in the Old Testament. That means that its writer was writing as one under the law, and we need to be careful to read Proverbs with that focus in mind. If you are going to follow the Proverbs explicitly as a believer, you had better hold a knife to your throat, or at least threaten yourself, when you are eating with a ruler! Furthermore, if you are going to follow the book of Proverbs as though it is a book of commands for believers, you had better also follow the other laws in the Old Testament. Let me quote one here for you. Deuteronomy 21:18,19;21a: “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown…Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death…”. When I read this, I wonder if that is perhaps what Solomon meant when he said that if you beat your son with a rod, you will save his soul from Sheol (or death). Perhaps he had in mind a rebellious teenage son (his sons certainly were!), and he was thinking of beating his rebellious sons to keep them from being stoned to death!!      Source

SOURCE
The Shebet is not a small instrument. A shepherd’s staff was a thick, long rod. If you were to literally beat your child with this, on the back (as this is what is literally indicated in the Proverbs), you would likely kill him/her. Recently, a little girl was killed because here parents spanked her with a small switch over and over again. Her internal organs failed, and she died. These were supposed loving, Bible-believing parents! I will post more on this story later. If a small switch can kill a child, imagine what a literal rod could do!!

Exodus 21:20 warns about the use of the rod: “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.This verse is speaking about an adult being smitten with a rod, not a child. And an adult smitten with a literal rod could die!

One more thing I would like to address: Proverbs is a book of Hebrew poetry. This is an important contextual fact to look at when you are interpreting those pesky “rod” verses. If you look at Proverbs as poetry, you will see that the “rod,” or the “shebet,” is a symbol of authority. When the Hebrews read the term “shebet,” they would have had in mind the leader of a tribe, a shepherd’s rod (which, incidentally, was never used to beat the sheep. Sheep are very timid creatures, and will not trust a master who raises his hand against them), a king’s sceptre, or the shaft of a spear. “Shebet” would have meant authority to them.In the New Testament, believing parents are encouraged to nurture, admonish, train, correct their children: clearly, they are to be in authority over them, so this is a New Testament principle as well.

In My Silence

Contemplative Indignation

I spoke with a friend tonight about time outs. Now my wheels are spinning.

I haven’t had a chance to write in a long time due to some personal changes, uprooting, and a general, massive directional modification in (my) life’s path.  That said, I am reminded this evening of the value not only to myself, but the potential value to others, for me to put thoughts to paper – forgive me, but is there a technological synonym, really?   Yeah, didn’t think so.

I am too tired to write much tonight, save the few comments I have already responded to, but I will give you a bit of info on the topics I’ll tackle in the coming days/weeks as the muse inspires and allows. And you all know my muse is a toddler, right!!

Topics to be explored (your feedback, input, data, etc., is always encouraged):

  • Ostracism (Time Outs), Rejection, Humiliation of Children in the Name of Discipline and Punishment
  • Curbing Insolence, or Perhaps Appreciating It
  • Your Child’s Worldview
  • Engaging – Not Just Monitoring Your Child (Anyone see the Incredibles??)
  • Bedtime (No, Not Mine, the Kid’s… Ok, Mine Too)
  • Peaceful Coexistence vs.  Harmony

So, until I can think straight and don’t see little blurs darting in/out of my peripheral vision…

Good night.

The most pathetic…

http://chastisewithlove.com/feedback_jan03.html

I need to share this with you.  Everything about the website shown above is wrong, on so many levels.

I hate this.
It sickens me.. as in, physically ill to the point of needing to either vomit or scream.

I hate the damaging of life, especially of those helpless to stop it.

If only I could somehow effect the same damage to the one doing the spanking, in great enough amounts, enormous even… that their pain would be immense enough they’d WAKE UP.

If you are a kid who struggles with parents who choose to control your life with these methods, and you’d like someone to talk to, send me a message.  What is shown below is wrong.  WRONG. Children are too valuable to be degraded in such a manner.  It is the weak and pathetic adult who resorts to such cruelty as is shown below.

Argue with me.  Go ahead.

______________________________________________________________________

What follows is a set of detailed instructions on how to damage your child.
Here is how to humiliate, how to confuse, how to destroy trust, and how to cause shame.

It continues to sicken me how frequently this page is accessed, and now I have a comment from someone who I wish I could meet in person with some duct tape and a freeze ray.  I chose to remove the Spanking Positions page from public view because of the thousands of hits a day it received.  That alone should say enough… Why do we, as a society, take so long to learn and become aware of our own demise.

Nothing that follows contains an ounce of good.  Nothing here is beneficial to growth, helpful in character, or honoring.  None of it! This teaches fear, shame, and resentment.  Repentance is not what you are seeing if you use these methods, you’re seeing a learned survival response.  You are harming your child if this even remotely represents how you parent.  There are so many other solutions so produce an intelligent, self controlled little person.. So many other ways that don’t include diminishing, shaming, or damaging… THIS IS SO FAR FROM ANYTHING GOOD.   GET IT YET???

Please, please, stop for a moment and observe your little ones.  They have so much to teach us.

I have removed all other imagery from this post as I suspect its popularity has more to do with the sexual than the parental.  The male in the picture below has his penis up against the wall, pants down; the female is being spared the humiliation. They’ve both just received a spanking. Gender aside, you tell me what else this picture says.

I’d like to direct you to a very powerful essay written by a woman who would likely be unable to prevent the onslaught of uncontrolable trembling upon seeing this image…

THIS IS WRONG. SICKENING.

IF YOU THINK THIS IS HOW TO PARENT, I CHALLENGE YOU TO BECOME SOMETHING MUCH GREATER AND START BY LEARNING THE HARM AND DAMAGE YOU’RE CAUSING YOUR CHILD BY FOLLOWING THIS.

Spanking techniques

Preparation
Before placing the child over your lap, you may want to remove any keys or other hard items from your pocket. You might also wish to remove the rings or other jewelry from your spanking hand. Many parents prefer to roll up their sleeves prior to the spanking. It’s important that there be no obstructions preventing you from spanking safely.If you’re going to sit on a chair, place it in the center of the room. If you’re using a bed, keep a safe distance from any bedposts so the child will not get hurt from uncontrolled movements; sitting on the side of the bed usually works best. Seating yourself in the middle of a couch in order to administer an over-the-lap spanking is even better still.

Placing an uncooperative child into over-the-lap position
(Reader’s contribution, June 2002): “If the child won’t lie across your lap on a bed or couch, try this. Right-handedness is assumed. If left-handed, replace left with right, and vice versa.

Find an armless chair which, when you sit in it, your thigh is above the child’s knee, ideally at about the middle of the child’s thighs. Take the child’s left wrist in your right hand and take him/her to your selected chair. Sit down, with the child on your right side. For this to work, you must spread your knees. The child’s weight will be supported on your lap, and by spreading your knees, you gain stability. Transfer the child’s wrist to your left hand and pull him/her over your lap. Pull him/her to your left, and lean, if you must. The child has to lean forward against your right thigh, and once you’ve pulled his/her center of gravity past your thigh, he/she will “trip” over your right thigh and instinctively will catch himself/herself with his/her right hand on your left thigh. He/she will now be lying across your lap, with his/her feet off the floor. Now, use your left hand to hold his/her upper body. The right hand, of course, is occupied with the now positioned bottom.

It is always preferable to get the child to cooperate, but if the spanking is necessary and he/she won’t accept it, try this.”

Bare bottom or not?
The majority of parents who use spanking prefer to spank their children bare-bottomed. It has a number of advantages:

  • it will hurt more than a spanking on the outer clothes or on the under clothes. Therefore, it is best for spanking with the hand (spanking a fully clothed bottom with the hand is fairly ineffective)
  • it allows the parent to gauge the severity of the spanking (visual feedback)
  • it feels more natural for parents to spank a child’s bare rather than clothed bottom
  • it is fairer: spanking on whatever garment the child happens to wear would allow a random factor to play a major role – spanking on the bare treats every child and every case equal
  • the smacking sound – much more pronounced than a spanking on pants – adds to the psychological impact
  • the act of baring the bottom and presenting it for the spanking makes the spanking more formal and ceremonial – it increases the important “ritual” aspect of the punishment experience

Some people feel that bare bottom spanking should be discouraged because it is too painful or too embarrassing for the child. Of course, it depends on cultural differences and the individual family. But if spankings are given as recommended here (only by parents, only in privacy, only with the hand, and in a loving and non-humiliating manner), this argument cannot be upheld.Alternatives
A good alternative – a middle course – between spanking fully clothed and spanking bare-bottomed is spanking on the underpants. This retains most of the bare-bottom advantages listed above. While denim jeans estimatedly absorb about 70% of a spanking’s impact, underpants absorb only 10-20%. Psychologically, the exposing of the child’s underwear constitutes an “act of baring” too, albeit less powerful than the exposing of the bare bottom.

Feb-2001: A reader recommends yet another solution: “If you are hesitant to spank a bare bottom, have the child wear a thin pair of panties or the tight spandex shorts they wear these days, then either get them wet before the child puts them on or have the child get them wet in the sink, shower or bath after being put on. This makes the fabric cling to the buttocks making a good view for the spanker and still protects the skin. The child feels the pressure of the fabric on the bottom before the spanks begin which seems to remind them of what is coming. An older child can lay on the bed with 2 pillows under the hips and pull the pants tighter with both hands. This method makes the child very aware of their bottom raised in the air and poised for the spanking to come (…) This method still stings and reddens the bottom a great deal.”

Oct-2001: Another reader suggests a way to bare a child’s bottom without removing or pulling down his/her underwear. “All you have to do (after pulling down the pants) is to place the child on your lap with his underwear still on. You take both edges and pull them to the center and tuck them in the crack. Although this is not a complete baring, it does show a large portion of flesh and will leave the sit spot available for the spanking.”

Dec-2002: Another idea is to tell your child to prepare for his/her spanking by putting on a pair of drop-seat pajamas without underwear (see reader’s feedback, Dec 6, 2002). Opening the rear flap gives the parent easy access to the bare bottom without frontal nudity. Drop-seat pajamas may be a little difficult to find nowadays but if you can sew you can try using these old sewing patterns, or try shopping for drop-seat pajamas/long johns herehere, or here.

Taking the pants down
The pants can either be taken down to the ankles, to the knees (half way down), or to just below the buttocks, although the latter is less advisable (taking the pants a bit lower than absolutely necessary increases the ritual aspect of the baring). They can also be removed completely; then they won’t be dangling somewhere. For reasons of modesty, the pants are best taken down just before the child gets into position. For girls who wear dresses or skirts, the skirt can simply be turned up after the girl is over the parent’s lap.(Reader’s contribution, Mar 2005) “When taking the pants down, the parent should not just yank them down. This not only eliminates the ritual aspect of the baring, but in case of a boy, could cause injury to his genitals. The procedure should be done slowly, but deliberately. With the child standing in front of you, slide the outer garment (pants or shorts) down to the desired position, leaving the underwear in place. Then take down the underwear to the desired position, preferably slightly higher than the outer garment, but low enough to bare the entire bottom. If the child is wearing a garment that does not require underwear, such as pajamas, take the pants down to the same position as if it were underwear. During this procedure the child may be whining or crying; promising not to do it again. Maintain eye contact, but do not reply verbally, continue to take the pants down. This will not only increase the ritual aspect of the baring, but will insure the child understands the parent is in complete control. When the spanking is over; with younger children, 2 to 5, the parent should pull the pants up, even if the child was allowed to do the baring as described below. This will give the child a sense of finality. An older child may require more time to compose him or herself. It’s would be okay for the parent to say “When you’re ready, pull up your pants and come on out”. Then leave the room.”

Some parents ask/order their children to take down their pants, allowing/forcing them to cooperate. Others prefer to do the act themselves. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. It also depends on the individual situation and the child. If children refuse to cooperate, it may help to let them put their hands on their head for the procedure – this will minimize the hassle. If children are penitent and cooperative, it is okay to allow them to do the baring itself (see “Cooperative children“).

Breathing
(Added May, 2003) A spanking is exhausting for the parent, but even more so for the child. It can actually compare to the physical effects of a one-mile run. It promotes the circulation and increases the pulse. This in turn requires breathing faster and deeper. In extreme cases it can lead to hyperventilation.

Therefore it is a very important safeguard to make sure the child is breathing normally before commencing the spanking. After checking you’re sufficiently calmed down yourself, it is recommendable to ask a question such as “are you ready for your spanking?” to find out whether your child is both physically and mentally ready.

If your child appears out of breath, e.g. from running away in an attempt to escape the punishment or from a heated discussion beforehand, give him/her time to calm down to normal pulse and breathing before beginning the punishment. If your child appears out of breath during the spanking, stop immediately.

Positioning: How to spank a 3 year old
(Reader’s contribution, Dec 2002): “Place the child over your lap. When spanking a 3 year old it is not necessary to lift your arm high, you only need to lift your wrist at the elbow. If the child tries to squirm out of position than you can place your left elbow at the right side of the child, level with the child’s shoulder. This should mean that your hand will be positioned at the waist and you will be able to pull the child closer to your body. This will trap the child between your body and your left arm. This will stop the child from squirming and make the spanking safer.”

Readying your hand
There are basically two ways of spanking with an open hand. The first is to stiffen your hand, flattening it like a paddle. This is less advisable because it’s likely to make you feel aggressive and overly mechanical. Besides, it creates an unfavorable impact.

Figure 1. Spanking with a stiffened hand.The alternative is to have your hand relaxed and flexible (especially at the wrist), like a strap. This figures to be the better choice. If you have ever played congas, bongos, tennis or squash, you will know what it means to keep your wrist flexible. Keep your four fingers together and relaxed, too. Note that it will be mainly your fingers that do the work, not your palm. Your thumb will not participate much, so you can move it a bit out of the way. Concentrate on where and how your four fingers make contact with the child’s bottom.

Figure 2. Spanking with a relaxed hand.Cupping the hand while spanking the bare bottom of a smaller child reduces the pain produced. At the same time, it produces a much louder sound – this makes the spanking seem more severe than it acually is. This trick can be very useful. It increases the psychologic effect while keeping the physical pain to a minimum.

Figure 3. Spanking with a cupped hand.Don’t lift your arm high. You would only sacrifice accuracy to apparent power.

Distribution
Do not restrict the spanks to any one area, but try to distribute them evenly over the whole of the buttocks. Determine just where you want each spank to land. If the spanking is bare-bottom, you’ll be able to see the skin redden as you smack it and direct your hand accordingly. Generally, keep a safe distance from the kidneys, the coccyx and the genital area (the latter especially when spanking a boy). Also, spank only the convex part of the buttocks, not the sides.

Figure 4. The blue areas show the “prohibited zones”: the kidney (K), the coccyx (C) and the genital (G) area. The orange areas indicate where spanking is safe. The lower half of each buttock (the “sit spot”, just above the place where the thigh and the bottom meets, shown in pink) is particularly suitable for spanking. The drawing on the right illustrates how to find the recommended area: keep about one inch (3 cm) lower than the top of the crack. Never spank higher than that.Since the bottom is divided into two cheeks, there are three options for placing each spank – left cheek, right cheek, or both cheeks together. Spanks that cover both cheeks can be particularly effective, but to ensure a good distribution, it’s best to use all three areas in a random pattern (e.g. l, r, b, r, b, b, l, l, r, b, b…).

Speed and rhythm
There are two schools of thought. One says to spank at a steady pace, with roughly equal intervals between the spanks. The spanking rate can be as fast as 2-3 spanks per second (quick slapping) or as slow as only one spank in 3-4 seconds. Generally, spankings with an implement (e.g. a paddle) – which are discouraged on this website – should be slower than hand spankings.

The “steady pace” style, however, is somewhat robotic. So, the other approach is to vary the tempo all the time. Also, the location and force of each spank should change in a random fashion. This will make each smack unpredictable and the overall spanking more effective.

Building up
Imagine yourself giving (or receiving), say, five spanks of different strength – very light, light, medium, hard, very hard. Does the order in which these spanks are given matter?

Physically, the order should be irrelevant: the total effect is the sum of the spanks, and the result of a sum does not depend on the order of its components. This law applies to the physical aspects of the spanking, such as the redness that results from the spanks. A spanking however is not given for physical but for psychological reasons; and psychologically, the order does matter. Spanks given in an increasing pattern have a stronger effect than the same spanks given in a decreasing pattern. Parents can use this effect to reduce the number of spanks (and their summed up physical impact) needed to reach the desired result.

Of course, when giving a spanking that consists of more than 5 spanks, it is neither practicable nor desirable to increase the strength throughout. There are limits on both ends of the scale – too light spanks are ineffective while too hard spanks are unsafe. For this reason, it is recommendable to use sub-patterns of increasing strength – like an (ideally, somewhat irregular) sawtooth function. If you’re familiar with musical terms, think of a series of short crescendos. Many parents will intuitively follow this principle when giving a spanking.

Note: increasing the speed of the spanking in a likewise manner (accellerando) is not a very good idea. If the spanks come too fast, they are actually felt less, not more. Generally, for maximum impact each spank should be given sufficient time to “sink in” before the next spank.

The first spank is important
As an exception to the “building up” rule, the first spank should not be a weak one. It is too psychologically important. Start with a good first swat to get your child’s full attention, then decrease.

Changing the position
(Reader’s contribution, 2001): After spanking with the child in the usual position, i.e. bottom to the right and head to the left, try reversing the position and continuing the spanking with the hand applying the spanks pointed downwards towards the base of the bottom.This enables the spanks to land in a slightly different region and thus increases the coverage.

“I had the idea when I was watching my sister give a spanking to her young son whilst in the standing position. For the reasons you give I don’t favour that position but it occurred to me that her hand pointing downward meant that she was making contact with the lower middle part of his bottom in a way which my spankings did not. I then realised that the same effect could be achieved by having the child’s bottom on the left hand side. This method also introduces a little variety and additional ritual into the proceedings which I rather like.”

Duration
When setting up house rules, some parents agree on fixed numbers of spanks for certain offenses. This scheme is traditionally mostly used for canings because the severity of the implement necessarily keeps the number of strokes low; e.g. 3 or 6 strokes with the cane (“six of the best”).

For spankings given with the flat hand, it is appropriate to give at most 2-3 times as many spanks as the child’s age. In practice, many parents don’t count the smacks – they just stop when they feel the punishment has been sufficient. This flexible approach is preferable because it allows to take the child’s reaction into account.

In addition, counting each spank makes the exercise cold and impersonal. This may be something for judicial corporal punishment, but not for a normal parent-child spanking.

During the spanking
During the spanking, it is best to keep silent. For one thing, you can concentrate better on each spank when you are not talking. Also, your child’s thoughts should be focussed entirely on the spanking. You’re probably familar with the “Now <spank> will you <spank> promise <spank> to be <spank> good? <spank>” approach. Avoid this if you can. By asking questions during the spanking you will distract your child. In effect, neither your words nor your spanks will get the attention they need.

Use your voice during the spanking only to control your children verbally when they have gotten out of position (see the next section). But don’t use your voice to keep your children from crying. Crying is natural in this situation and not an act of disobedience. Tears are good and purifying.

The “layer cake” method
(Added May, 2003) This method was suggested by a former public school teacher who has been instructing parents with great success on how to spank effectively. In this method, the spanking is split into a series of intervals with a dialogue phase in between each “layer”.

“With the “layer cake” approach, the necessary preparation and explanation are followed by sufficient spanking to ensure the child’s attention. Then, with the child either repositioned so that he or she is standing at the parent’s knee or still in position, the parent reasons with the child. The parent then spanks enough to make sure that he or she has the child’s undivided attention before pausing to reason with the child once more. A little more talking is then followed by a little more spanking. (…)

All comments made by the parent during the punishment should be positive, specifically addressing the parent’s faith in the child to fulfill the parent’s reasonable expectation, since the spanking addresses the parent’s displeasure with the child’s past behavior (as well as maintaining the child’s undivided attention). The reasoning is meant to provide balance in the child’s mind as the parent directs and amends the child’s thinking process from the past and into the future. Repetition, ritual, and reinforcement are key components of “layer cake”. So the lesson the parent desires to teach is not likely to have to be repeated. (…)

The spanking and pauses for discussion should proceed at a pace with which the parent is comfortable and the child is appropriately responsive. The planned pauses allow both the parent and child to reflect on the disciplinary process. In particular, it permits the parent to concentrate on one task at a time while gauging the effectiveness. (…) The alternating pattern of reinforcing “layers” spanking and dialogue continues until the parent is absolutely sure that the child has “gotten the message”. Then, the parent finishes the session with sufficient spanking to bring the child to a full flow of cleansing tears and repentance. Of course, it goes without saying that, unreserved reconciliation follows.”

Note: Some children cry more easily than others. For this reason, crying is not an objective indicator to judge whether the punishment is enough. If your child doesn’t cry easily, you should not assume that a spanking isn’t effective just because he/she isn’t crying. Tears are cleansing, but they aren’t a must.

For more details on the “layer cake” method, see Reader’s Feedback, April 30, 2003.

Positive reinforcement
(Added May, 2003) When discussing the child’s behavior, try to use positive statements addressing your faith in the child to fulfill your expectations. The reasoning is meant to provide balance in the child’s mind as the parent directs and amends the child’s thinking process from the past and into the future.

Here are some examples for positive verbal reinforcement: “I know that you can do better and you know it, too, don’t you? You are much better than your recent behavior is telling the world that you are; isn’t it? Way down, deep inside, you really are a good kid; aren’t you? You know, I would not trade you for any child in the whole wide world. You are mine and I am keeping you. Even now, I love you more than you know at this moment. You really are a good kid. I am never letting you go. But, we are here because we are not going to let the way you have acted get in the way of who you are and what you can become! You really are bunches and bunches better than you have behaved recently. Why just the other day your grandmother (teacher, whoever, or I) was saying (praise, praise, praise) …”

To be avoided at all costs (UNLESS YOU ARE MICHAEL PEARL) are guaranteed spirit-breakers such as, “You are just like you father (or mother); how could you be so stupid?” or “Why can’t you be like your sister (or older brother, cousin, etc.); she (or he)’s so perfect; why can’t you be just like her (him)?” Also to be avoided are open-ended questions for which no real answer may exist. These may include, “Why do you behave like that?” Often, the child has no idea.

For more details on positive reinforcement, see Reader’s Feedback, April 30, 2003.

NOTE: THIS IS NOT WORTH READING.  IT’S JUST AS SICK AND TWISTED AS THE SPANKING IS.

Keeping in position
Assuming a good position before the spanking begins is important, but sometimes it can be difficult to maintain. The child may start kicking, squirming, or trying to cover his/her bottom with his/her hand. If so, the parent must counteract because such resistance jeopardizes the safety of the spanking.

The best solution is to verbally get the child back into the proper position. It can help to let the child grab the legs of the chair, or the parent’s legs. This will make it easier to keep his/her hands in front and give them some physical (and moral) support. If this still doesn’t help and the child’s hand flings back, it should be held, “pinned down”, at the small of the child’s back with the parent’s free left hand, allowing the spanking to continue.

To prevent kicking, the best solution again is verbal instruction. As a physical countermeasure if verbal instruction doesn’t help, the child’s legs can be tucked under the parent’s right leg (see chapter “Positions“). Also, the child’s pants, if they are bunched at the knees or ankles, will limit the freedom to kick.

After the spanking
Remember that after the spanking, the child has “paid” for his/her misbehavior and should be fully forgiven, effective immediately. The slate is clean again. Reassure your child, tell him/her how much he/she is loved and that the punishment was necessary to keep him/her from repeating the bad act. If he/she is crying, hold him/her on your lap until the tears subside, and hug him/her. Have some tissue or a hanky ready to clean his/her eyes and nose.After the child has regained his/her constitution, help him/her to get dressed again. You can let him/her apologize to you (or the offended person, if different), and promise not to repeat the bad behavior. This will strengthen the educational effect. Do not apologize for having given the spanking. If you truly felt that such a punishment was deserved, it was your responsibility to carry it out. You don’t want to undermine the deterrence factor by suggesting that you spanked unfairly.

Let the spanking stand as the punishment for the offense, and do not humiliate your child by mentioning the offense or its penalty in public. The child has paid and the issue is settled. Fully reintegrate the child to the family, and make sure all family members accept the punishment as sufficient, so that they will reaccept the child as well. Do not tolerate any further angry words (e.g. from your spouse) about the misbehavior. The matter is to be considered closed.

Corner Time

(Added Nov, 2009) Corner time is often either used before or after the spanking. This website recommends that after the spanking, the child has “paid” for his/her misbehavior and that the use of corner time as additional punishment is unnecessary. However, one of the obvious benefits of using corner time before the spanking is that it can give an angry parent time to calm down before administering the spanking. Another benefit is that the corner time can increase the child’s anticipation & dread of the impending spanking, making the entire experience even more unpleasant. That said, it is still the opinion of this website that corner time is not needed unless the parent finds one or both of the aforementioned benefits useful or necessary.

Lotion
(Added Nov, 2003) Some readers recommend to put lotion on the child’s bottom after the spanking. Normally this shouldn’t be necessary, and parents might also argue that doing so is not pedagogically desirable. Still, it will do no harm and, like the hug, it might help in showing the child he/she is fully forgiven.

Recommended lotions are after-sun lotions and aloe-vera-based lotions – generally, any lotion which is cooling and soothing.

UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  NO WORDS

UTTERLY DISGUSTED

 

Awful Library Books: Train Up Your Child

Source: Awful Library Books

Train Up Your Child

June 6, 2010 · 53 Comments

To Train Up a Child
Pearl
1994

Submitter: I actually remember my mother having this book at some point (I don’t think she ascribed to it). Two children have died as a result of the author’s child care advice and one other was in critical condition.  At some point some books aren’t even funny to joke about and just need to be removed because they endanger society. This is why I weed – to get stuff like this that might hurt others off the self.

Here is what Amazon Reviewer R. Craig “Mother” said and I couldn’t have built a case better myself. Currently World Cat has 56 libraries still holding this material.

Here are some details:

1) The Pearls recommend whipping infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe whipping their own 4 month old daughter (p.9). They recommend whipping the bare skin of “every child” (p.2) for “Christians and non-Christians” (p.5) and for “every transgression” (p.1). Parents who don’t whip their babies into complete submission are portrayed as indifferent, lazy, careless and neglectful (p.19) and are “creating a Nazi” (p.45).

2) On p.60 they recommend whipping babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.” On p.61 they recommend whipping a 12 month old girl for crying. On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.

3) On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with. On p.56 Debi Pearl hits a 2 year old so hard “a karate chop like wheeze came from somewhere deep inside.”

4) On p.44 they say not to let the child’s crying while being hit to “cause you to lighten up on the intensity or duration of the spanking.” On p.59 they recommend whipping a 3 year old until he is “totally broken.”

5) On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.

6) On p.46 the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being whipped, whip them anyway. And “if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher.” “Defeat him totally.” On p.80 they recommend giving a child having a tantrum “a swift *forceful* spanking.” On the same page they say to whip small children on their bare skin until they stop screaming. “Don’t be bullied. Give him more of the same.” They say to continue whipping until their crying turns into a “wounded, submissive whimper.”

7) On p.47 they recommend their various whips, including “a belt or larger tree branch” to hit children.

8) The Pearls recommend pulling a nursing infant’s hair (p.7), and describe tripping their non-swimming toddler so she falls into deep water (p.67). They recommend ignoring an infant’s bumped head when he falls to the floor, and ignoring skinned knees (p.86). They also say “if your child is roughed-up by peers, rejoice.” (p.81) And on p.103 the Pearls say if children lose their shoes, “let them go without until they (the children) can make the money to buy more.”

9) The Pearls claim their “training” methods are Godly, yet they have *no religious training or credentials* They never mention Jesus’ injunctions to forgive “seventy times seven” and be merciful, and they decry the “extraordinary ingnorance of modern psychology.”

The Pearls’ methods have resulted in parents being investigated by Child Protective Services, children being taken away from parents, a restraining order against a father, and even a babysitter going to jail on felony charges!

Beyond Spanking, Beyond Training: A Look At Our Littlest Minds

Something that has hit me like a wrecking ball in all this research I’ve conducted in the last few weeks is an awareness of how what I do, EVERYTHING I DO, as far as my child is involved, literally molds and shapes her very existence. Mentally, physically, psychologically, emotionally.. every single aspect of her being is vulnerable to outside experiences, and will be throughout her entire life, but never more so than these early years when her brain is actually physically still developing the foundation it will function from until her final breath.

For example, previously, when my husband would depart for the office and my daughter would be upset and ask for him to come back, I would tell her she was ok, Mama was with her, and that Papa would return shortly.

One day, while saying these very words, I actually focused on her face, and her body’s response to what I was saying.  She was angry.  With me!  She knew Papa would eventually return, but she was NOT ok!  She was upset.  She was sad, and she was experiencing the anxiety and discomfort of having her Papa leave her presence.  She did not need me to point out the obvious, nor did she need me to invalidate her feelings by trying to reverse or counter them.  She needed my empathy and comforting.

Now, when my little one expresses a feeling or emotional response to something, I will ask her for more details and talk to her about it as if I were also a two year old that is not capable of understanding what an adult does.  I will hold her, tell her I miss her Papa (or whatever) too, and ask her what I can do to help how she feels.  Notice here, I do not ask her how I can help her feel better, because it’s likely she doesn’t need to feel better, but needs to feel the impact of the emotion that she is experiencing, and work through it as her mind dictates.

This goes back to experiencing life through the eyes of the child. Now, I have even more reason to do so, not only to prevent my little one from feeling dis-valued or simply “humored”, but now I am aware of what chemicals are released upon stress (especially in forming brains) and how these chemicals affect the mind and its development.  This is a HUGE responsibility, if you ask me.  We’re not only talking about this person’s childhood, nor just her future as a functioning adult, but we’re talking about her in her entirety.  ALL that she is.. I have the responsibility to guarantee that nothing I do to or with, or around her, is going to cause her mind to be affected negatively or to force it to function in a diminished capacity.

Do you feel the impact and weight of that?  I’m still on the floor… it’s been about 10 days.

When I shout because I loose my temper, my daughter’s brain responds and floods certain areas with certain chemicals, and after time, if this keeps happening, these areas of the brain will not develop as they should. (If you want the science behind this, ask me.)

When my husband and I argue – same principle, only even worse, because her logic places her in-between as a peacemaker.

I cannot fathom intentionally subjecting my child to any form of trauma.

Let’s define trauma –  Take a look at the dictionary’s definition, and read this article

–noun,plural
Pathology.
a.  a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident.
b.  the condition produced by this; traumatism.
Psychiatry.
a.an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.
b. the psychological injury so caused.
c. An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption.

______________________________________

Below is an excerpt from an article that discusses, in relatively simple English, what happens when children are experienced to situations they perceive as threatening.

Many of the articles and stories presented on the NGJ website (examples to follow, but just glance at the topics on the right and you’ll find plenty) are very descriptive and explain how their method causes the child to experience fear, survival responses, and dread.  They also discuss what to do when your child attempts to evade you coming after him to spank him – track him down and do it harder – they will learn to not try to escape.  If logic were being used instead of terror and power tactics, though the child might not like the natural consequences to their actions, they’re not going to have the same responses as they might to the knowledge that they’re about to be struck, and humiliated, and that they have no choice but to submit because if they don’t, they know their “punishment” will just become that much worse.

The Neurobiological Responses to Threat

When a child is threatened, various neurophysiological and neuroendocrine responses are initiated. If they persist, there will be ‘use-dependent’ alterations in the key neural systems involved in the stress response. These include the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In animal models, chronic activation of the HPA system in response to stress has negative consequences. Chronic activation may “wear out” parts of the body including the hippocampus, a key area involved in memory, cognition and arousal. This may be occurring in traumatized children as well. Dr. Martin Teicher and colleagues have demonstrated hippocampal/limbic abnormalities in a sample of abused children.

Another set of neural systems that become sensitized by repetitive stressful experiences are the catecholamine systems including the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems. These key neurochemical systems become altered following traumatic stress. The result is a cascade of associated changes in attention, impulse control, sleep, fine motor control and other functions mediated by the catecholamines. As these catecholamines and their target regions (e.g., amygdaloid nuclei) also mediate a variety of other emotional, cognitive and motor functions, sensitization of these systems by repetitive re-experiencing of the trauma leads to dysregulation in many functions. A traumatized child may, therefore, exhibit motor hyperactivity, anxiety, behavioral impulsivity, sleep problems, tachycardia and hypertension. In preliminary studies by our group, we have seen altered cardiovascular regulation (e.g., increased resting heartrate) suggesting altered autonomic regulation at the level of the brainstem. In other studies, clonidine, an alpha2 adrenergic receptor partial agonist has been demonstrated to be an effective pharmacotherapeutic agent, presumably by altering the sensitivity of the noradrenergic systems. Studies by Dr. Michael DeBellis and colleagues have demonstrated other catecholamine and neuroendocrine alterations in a sample of sexually abused girls. These indirect studies all support the hypotheses of a use-dependent alteration in the brainstem catecholamine systems following childhood trauma.

Implications of Trauma-related Alterations in Brain Development

All experiences change the brain – yet not all experiences have equal ‘impact’ on the brain. Because the brain is organizing at such an explosive rate in the first years of life, experiences during this period have more potential to influence the brain – in positive and negative ways. Traumatic experiences and therapeutic experiences impact the same brain and are limited by the same principles of neurophysiology. Traumatic events impact the multiple areas of the brain that respond to the threat. Use-dependent changes in these areas create altered neural systems that influence future functioning. In order to heal (i.e., alter or modify trauma), therapeutic interventions must activate those portions of the brain that have been altered by the trauma. Understanding the persistence of fear-related emotional, behavioral, cognitive and physiological patterns can lead to focused therapeutic experiences that modify those parts of the brain impacted by trauma.

Our evolving understanding of neurodevelopment suggests directions for assessment, intervention and policy. Primary among these is a clear rationale for early identification and aggressive, pro-active interventions that will improve our ability to help traumatized and neglected children. The earlier we intervene, the more likely we will be to preserve and express a child’s potential.