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3. It is about the brain

The TRAUMA24 Conference is drawing closer. It has me thinking about the vital importance of spreading the word about the central role of the brain in the chaos that ensues in the wake of histories of neglect, abandonment, and abuse. Thankfully the entire world is waking up to recognizing the devastation caused by childhood trauma.

I had promised a while ago that I would share some thoughts on affect regulation- the absence of the capacity to regulate emotions that is a core disastrous consequence of the central nervous system that never acquired this capacity during the early developing stages of the brain. The infant could not receive regulation from the mother due to her absence or incapacity for whatever reason. The brain networks and regions that are imperative for the development of the capacity to regulate one’s emotions, the capacity to downregulate reactivity for instance, don’t develop properly. In fact, according to Allen Score’s early work – the three books  he wrote about the important relationship between the capacity of affect regulation and the organization of the self- he made it clear that the development of sense of self is impaired when the primary attachment relationship does not contain the vulnerable development of the brain of the infant and the young child in a secure and safe relationship. This information is profoundly important with far-reaching effects. Not only does the traumatised brain not develop the capacity to regulate emotion, but it does also not develop the capacity to develop a felt and embodied sense of self. It will also not have the capacity to know its own desires, intentions, emotions and will not be able to predict or interpret behaviour. The owners of these brains are mostly mainly just trying to survive whatever next wave crashes down on them, or they fight their way trough the next anticipated attack, or they cling to whatever they get a hold of or numb out or try to impress others that would take them in and offer shelter from the raging storm.

As you know by now, our planet is inhabited by millions of adults that have survived childhood histories with the absence of an attuned primary caregiver that provided an environment in which their developing brains could thrive. Instead, the fear circuitries in these brains were activated and are ever ready to be triggered and erupt in emotional storms. These millions of adults are parents to millions of children. These children have broken primary attachment relationships, unless the parents undergo a deep and gruelling journey toward the resolution of trauma, which unfortunately too often does not reach the destination of resolution. Thus, we have inter-generational trauma which the world now knows about. These wounds and vulnerabilities are passed on from one generation to the next. But this is changing and that is what this TRAUMA24 Conference is about. It is about the two most promising and efficacious brain-based therapies that addresses the problem that arises in the brain, in the brain: Neurofeedback and Deep Brain Reorienting. Proof of the efficacy of these therapies exist and the research that proves that will also be presented at the Conference. The deep brain structures that are profoundly affected by these histories void of secure primary attachment relationships, can not be reached by words alone. Words speak to the cortex, the outside layer of the brain, but that is not where the problem starts. It starts in the brainstem.

The two core components that ought to be addressed in any trauma intervention are affect regulation and attachment. A combination of Attuned Neurofeedback and Deep Brain Reorienting addresses these cardinal aspects and is leading trauma intervention into a new era of promise and hope.

You can read more about and register for this conference at if you are from Africa

or if you are from Europe or the USA

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