Your biography becomes your biology.
The emotional trauma we suffer as children not only shapes our emotional lives as adults, but it also affects our physical health, longevity, and overall well-being.
Scientists now know on a bio-chemical level exactly how parents’ chronic fights, divorce, death in the family, being bullied or hazed, and growing up with a hypercritical, alcoholic, or mentally ill parent can leave permanent, physical “fingerprints” on our brains.
When children encounter sudden or chronic adversity, stress hormones cause powerful changes in the body, altering the body’s chemistry.
The developing immune system and brain react to this chemical barrage by permanently resetting children’s stress response to “high,” which in turn can have a devastating impact on their mental and physical health as they grow up.
Donna Jackson Nakazawa shares stories from people who have recognized and overcome their adverse experiences, shows why some children are more immune to stress than others, and explains why women are at particular risk.
“Our brains construct a world that no one else can see, touch, or hear. Or, as Buddhist teachers sometimes say, “The truth is a pathless land.”
“Kids whose brains have undergone epigenetic changes because of early adversity have an inflammation-pro-mot- drip of fight-or-flight hormones turned on high every day—and there is no off switch.”
“Interestingly, recurrent humiliation by a parent caused a slightly more detrimental impact and was marginally correlated to a greater likelihood of adult illness and depression. Simply living with a parent who puts you down and humiliates you, or who is alcoholic or depressed, can leave you with a profoundly hurtful ACE footprint and alter your brain and immunologic functioning for life.”