Emotional neglect and abuse impact brain development

For little children emotional neglect and abuse is often 
extremely painful and upsetting. And often it is too
painful to remember at adult age. -especially at ages 
where they didn’t speak yet-  But it will be storaged
in particular parts of the brain.
 
The brain has two hemispheres, the left one and the right one.
One of these covers the emotional part of information processing
The other covers verbal thinking and reasoning.
 
The emotional hemisphere develops first, the verbal language
hemisphere develops later.
 
The third brain development stage is then that the hemispheres
get connected together. But in complex trauma we often see a
disconnect between the two hemispheres.
 
This shows in how experiences how up when an old painful 
memory is triggered.
 
Suddenly we may feel unpleasant sensations, traumatic feelings
extreme stress, anger, fear, or sadness….. but we don’t know
what it is about….
 
Or at an other moment we may have a memory about something that 
happened may come up, but we cannot feel the emotions that 
belong to it. When this happens, the emotions are storaged in another 
part of the brain and the emotions cannot be connected with.
 
And these experiences start forming a subconscious 
blueprint for interpreting life situations in later 
adult life. These experiences even influence the way the 
brain develops. These experiences form neurological 
highroads to ways of interpreting and understanding, 
feeling, and reacting in lots of situations. 
Patterns will be shaped.
 
Luckily our brain can develop this integrative capacity. 
In trauma therapy memories are found back, and are integrated 
with the emotional parts of the experience. When this emotional 
integration takes place, the brain develops the 
integrative brain structures for it simultaneously.
 
When painful traumatic experiences finally integrate then the
experience can be processed in a more mature way. Then you can learn
from it, and then you can place it in the past and not be bothered
by it so much anymore.

FreyaJoy Tinbergen MSc
Psychologist, sexologist, registered therapist RBCZ Amsterdam

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Emotional neglect and abuse impact brain development

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Psycholoog, seksuoloog en registertherapeut RBCZ Amsterdam