The memories stored in our brain are either processed or unprocessed. If they are processed, it means that the brain has done its job and integrated a learning experience into our memory networks. Something happened that was disturbing, but I learned what I needed from it. I fight with a family member and I have a negative emotional and body reaction, but time passes and I think about it, talk about it, dream about it, and soon it doesn’t bother me any more. The appropriate connections are made in my brain and I might realize: “He’s been going through a hard time. We’ve had rough spots before and worked them out.” I decide what action to take and I feel better. In my memory network, what is useful is stored and what’s useless — like the feelings of anxiety or anger — is gone.
That is what the brain is geared to do: make the appropriate connections, “digest” the experience and store it in memory. But sometimes an experience can be so disturbing that the information processing system of the brain becomes imbalanced. When that happens, the experience is stored in an “unprocessed” form and still contains the emotions, physical sensations and beliefs that occurred at the time of the original event. So when I see the person again, instead of feeling OK, I have the same feeling of anger, hurt and anxiety. -Francine Shapiro, PhD
“We think children are born with a skeleton of general expectations about fairness,” explains Sloane, “and these principles and concepts get shaped in different ways depending on the culture and the environment they’re brought up in.” Some cultures value sharing more than others, but the ideas that resources should be equally distributed and rewards allocated according to effort are innate and universal.
Other survival instincts can intervene. Self-interest is one, as is loyalty to the in-group — your family, your tribe, your team. It’s much harder to abide by that abstract sense of fairness when you want all the cookies — or your team is hungry. That’s why children need reminders to share and practice in the discipline of doing the right thing in spite of their desires.
Still, says Sloane, “helping children behave more morally may not be as hard as it would be if they didn’t have that skeleton of expectations.”
This innate moral sense might also explain the power of early trauma, Sloane says. Aside from fairness, research has shown that small children expect people not to harm others and to help others in distress. “If they witness events that violate those expectations in extreme ways, it could explain why these events have such negative and enduring consequences.” -Science Daily
‘My colleagues and I suspect that the greatest lasting harm is from moral injury,’ says Litz, director of the Mental Health Core of the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiological Research and Information Center. He and six colleagues published an article on the topic in the December 2009 Clinical Psychological Review, in which they define moral injury as a wound that can occur when troops participate in, witness or fall victim to actions that transgress their most deeply held moral beliefs.
While the severity of this kind of wound differs from person to person, moral injury can lead to deep despair.
‘They have lost their sense that virtue is even possible,’ Shay says. ‘It corrodes the soul.’…
‘In traditional cultures, warriors always came back to tell their stories, to give witness and to do healing ceremonies in front of the entire community,’ Tick says. ‘The community witnessed the stories, felt the emotions, carried the burdens with their warriors and transferred responsibility for actions from the warriors to the community.’ -Miller-McCune
Consciously or not, children tend to adopt one of three approaches…
“Some are focused on developing their relationships. They want to improve their social skills. They want to learn how to make friends,” she said.
Others are most interested in “demonstrating their competence,” she said. They may try to demonstrate their competence by enhancing their status or seeking approval from their peers. “These are kids who say: ‘I want to be cool. I want lots of kids to like me. I want to hang out with the popular kids.’ “
Or they may try to demonstrate their competence by avoiding negative judgments. “These are the kids who say, ‘I’m not going to do anything that’s going to draw negative attention, that’s going to make me look like a loser, that’s going to embarrass me,’” Rudolph said.
…children who were most interested in developing relationships “had more positive perceptions of themselves and were more likely to say that they would cooperate and work to reduce conflict with other kids,” Rudolph said. When other kids harassed them, these children were “more likely to engage in proactive strategies to solve the problem,” she said. This might involve asking a teacher for advice, or getting emotional support. Students with these goals also were less likely to engage in other impulsive responses to harassment, Rudolph said.
Children who wanted to be perceived as “cool” or competent “were less likely to use those kinds of thoughtful, careful strategies” when dealing with harassment, Rudolph said. “And they were more likely to retaliate.” These children also had more negative perceptions of their peers, Rudolph said.
Those who wanted to avoid negative judgments were less likely to retaliate against their peers. “But they were also more passive. They just ignored what happened,” she said. This approach might be useful in some circumstances, particularly for boys who tend to be more physically aggressive and more likely to retaliate than girls, Rudolph said. But passive responses also may increase a bully’s willingness to “up the ante,” she said. -Science Daily
Researchers listened to telephone conversations between 17 accused male abusers in a Washington state detention facility and their female victims, all of whom decided to withdraw their accusations of abuse. For each of the couples, the researchers analyzed up to about three hours of phone conversations…
Typically, in the first and second conversations there is a heated argument between the couple, revolving around the event leading to the abuse charge. In these early conversations, the victim is strong, and resists the accused perpetrator’s account of what happens…
In the second stage, the perpetrator minimizes the abuse and tries to convince the victim that what happened wasn’t that serious….“The tipping point for most victims occurs when the perpetrator appeals to her sympathy, by describing how much he is suffering in jail, how depressed he is, and how much he misses her and their children,” Bonomi said.
“The perpetrator casts himself as the victim, and quite often the real victim responds by trying to soothe and comfort the abuser.”
…In the third stage, after the accused abuser has gained the sympathy of the victim, the couple bonds over their love for each other and positions themselves against others who “don’t understand them.”
The fourth stage involves the perpetrator asking the victim to recant her accusations against him and the victim complying. Finally, in the fifth stage, the couple constructs the recantation plan and develops their stories.
“They often exchange very specific instructions about what should be done and said in court. They seal their bond as a couple and see themselves as fighting together against the state, which they view as trying to keep them apart,” Bonomi said. -Science Daily
by Lundy Bancroft and The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships
by Patrick Carnes.)
“Later, we sat in the sand as the other kids my age played a game of beach volleyball. My father must have seen an opening of some kind, because to my great embarrassment he stood up between matches and asked if I could join in. I tried to refuse, but there was no way to do so without seeming like even more of a loser. I was a decent athlete—I’d played lacrosse and hockey in Baltimore—but did not understand the most basic mechanics involved in keeping a ball up in the air with my forearms.
“While the other kids set and dug and belly flopped for shots, I stood in the corner of the court, praying that the ball would miraculously avoid my jurisdiction. Finally someone spiked the ball right at me, and I did something tragic. I caught it. I glanced at my father, still clutching the thing to my stomach. His eyes were squinched up, fixed somewhere near my feet, as if he couldn’t stand to look me in the face. It took me a second to realize he was staring at my legs.
“At the time, my father’s shame was overshadowed by the disgrace I felt in front of my teammates. Now, though, when I’m watering the plants or jogging around the reservoir near my house, I’ll think of my father’s face that day and feel the punch of that ball in my stomach. I’ll fantasize about all the things I might have done, like clock him in the teeth. Perhaps—at least I tell myself this, I insist on it, because the memory still hurts me deeply—he was really making the face at himself.” -Eric Puchner, Schemes of My Father
It was the day my grandmother exploded. -Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road
While most people will crawl up into a ball when they are in pain, Bohn’s and Wiltermuth’s research suggests that one should do the opposite. In fact, their research suggests that curling up into a ball may make the experience more painful because it will make you feel like you have no control over your circumstances, which may in turn intensify your anticipation of the pain. Instead, try sitting or standing up straight, pushing your chest out and expanding your body. These behaviors can help create a sense of power and control that may in turn make the procedure more tolerable. Based on previous research, adopting a powerful, expansive posture rather than constricting your body, may also lead to elevated testosterone, which is associated with increased pain tolerance, and decreased cortisol, which may make the experience less stressful. – Science Daily
Scientists have developed a way to turn memories on and off — literally with the flip of a switch. Using an electronic system that duplicates the neural signals associated with memory, they managed to replicate the brain function in rats associated with long-term learned behavior, even when the rats had been drugged to forget. -Science Daily
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