We can not see ourselves clearly early in development. This makes us open to being influenced by the feedback we receive from our environment. On a recent youtube short I put up about complex trauma, a comment was left that said “This generation is pathetic ''. These are frequent comments I have to remove and monitor on all my posts about trauma.
Being a voice in the world of trauma, attachment theory and its effect on development I'd dare to say comments like this are the epitome of ignorance. Each of us develops according to the stimuli around us. As humans we must adapt to survive. We are the result of the generation before us, to shame and criticize another generation when we are a direct result of our environment … lacks the basic understanding of human development. Let me explain why to all the critics in the back.
Our world as a helpless infant is largely interpreted through the gaze of our mother and father. Their facial expressions become what the child looks for to decide if they are safe or not.
Think about this… If you have a parent who is perpetually depressed most likely they will not have a lot of animation in the face. That is confusing to a child and can create what is called a misattunement. As a developing child we mirror things we see. Your parent smiles and the baby smiles back, the parent sticks out their tongue and the child does it back. What do you think happens to a child who only sees a face of anger, anxiety or depression?
Very early on we develop our sense of self based on how we are made to “feel”. If we have a parent who is always angry it does not matter how many times they tell us they love us, what matters is all we feeeeeeel is anger. Somatically the sensory input triggers the adaptive behaviors. Putting a roof over someone's head and providing food is not enough if the child does not feeeeeel loved on a somatic level. This is the long term effect of not feeling loved as a child, we will not be sure what love feels like as an adult. Often we will pine for love and attention from people who will mirror the level of vulnerability and closeness that was allotted to them in childhood.
The author of “The Body Keeps the Score” Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. speaks to how the brain of a neglected child is primed for neglect as an adult. These people often have a larger window of tolerance for abuse. Their normal was established according to the way they experienced interpersonal relations around them.
Much like plants our fruits will be the result of how the soil and land were cultivated before the seed is planted. It all matters. To cast a stone at “this generation” without radical accountability for the origins of our adaptive behaviors is a skewed perspective.
Insults do not force a generation into wanting to be more like you “the insulter” instead it makes them disgusted and want to fight against everything you are. Humans are inspired by people who make them feeeeelllllllll good. Feeling loved and accepted often fosters a willingness to be open to feedback and teaching moments. Insulting and criticizing is a low level function that tells others more about you than having any effect on “this generation”.
Now let's talk about some of the taboo topics “the insulters” bring up and throw in some insight from SCIENTIFIC STUDIES. If you have complex trauma you may have found yourself on the other side of one of these insults. And not to mention the continuous invalidation of those around you even though brain scans and science are validating your adversity did effect your brain and therefore your behaviors.
Overly Sensitive - “Research shows that a lack of parental warmth growing up may cause a child to develop high sensitivity and carry this trait into adulthood. The same goes for negative early childhood experiences. If you experienced trauma as a child, you may be more likely to become an HSP (highly sensitive person) as an adult.”
Lazy - Scientifically this is depression; it means your polyvagal state is in an immobilized state; and you are depleted from being in chronic flight and fight, and most likely have adrenal gland fatigue.
No attention span - “Children with abuse-related PTSD have been found to have significantly poorer attention and executive function compared with a matched sample of non-maltreated children: they made more errors in tasks of sustained attention, and were more easily distracted and more impulsive than their matched peers.”
Attention seeking - “a brain wiring response to early developmental trauma caused by neglect, causing people with formative experiences of emotional and physical neglect to continuously seek the nurturing and safety they were denied as children.”
Hypersexuality - “experiencing neglect or abuse can have a significant impact on your sexual behavior and can lead to hypersexuality. Neglect and abuse can occur in various forms, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Children and adolescents who experience sexual abuse or violence are particularly vulnerable to developing hyper-sexuality.”
Thank you to all the doctors and researchers with the clip boards out there doing the hard work to connect the dots between generations. Just like with politics and religion polarity divides. Now more than ever we need to push for re-education around human development and include the most recent science behind what makes us …. us.
To the current generation let me just say, you are magnificent even in your brokenness. Your sensitivity was not a choice but an unconscious adaptive behavior to your environment. Your creative expression and innovation is unmatched to any other generation, don’t let the critics decide your value. Find ways to nourish the parts of you that have been neglected. Work to understand your attachment wounds so the next generation can experience good fruits.