* * NOWHERE TO HIDE * * Jamar’s Hyperarousal Defense


Jamar loved his sister, his mom and his grandmom. Dad was “away.” Grandmom had court appointed custody because of the abuse Jamar had suffered from Mom’s boyfriend.


Grandmom was exhausted from her day job and her new, ‘parent’ status, so some weekends she still sent the kids back to Mom. 


Several weekend “surprise” visits from Mom’s boyfriend included more extended,  intense abuse where Jamar’s screams were muffled by stuffing socks in his mouth.   It was more than 8 year-old Jamar could bear.  He was taken to the Crisis Center after attempting suicide.

The chronic fear and stress has changed the physical architecture of Jamar’s brain.


Jamar is hypervigilant now, continually scanning everything and everyone for threats.  

When a classmate innocently bumps him,  Jamar flips instantly to hostile aggression mode.   Jamar’s laser-like focus on social behaviors, his fears and misperceptions of threat keep him biologically hyperaroused, with a bias to action. Sometimes throwing chairs.

Jamar’s system is always a heartbeat away from high alert, or “hyperarousal” —  a common neurobiological defense to developmental trauma.  Engrained neurobiological stress responses and a chemical chain-reaction kick in automatically. 

Developmental trauma defenses are varied and complex.  Jamar’s hyperarousal contrasts sharply with another defense called ‘dissociation‘.  There is much for us to learn.

Ultimately, when we peel back the layers on Jamar’s behavior, we learn to respond dramatically differently. 

Whether abuse, family dysfunction or neglect, childhood trauma impacts 2 out of 3 kids.  Experts call it “epidemic.”


Trauma-Informed adults CAN make a difference.

Get Informed.  Click on the links below.


Informed already?  Then, please “share” the blog post.  Help grow awareness of this secret epidemic destroying childhoods.




Understanding the Behavioral and Emotional Consequences of Child Abuse                                                                                            CLICK HERE


National Child Traumatic Stress Network; Trauma Defenses                                                                                                              __                        CLICK HERE


How trauma ‘gets under the skin’: Biological and cognitive processes of child maltreatment                                              CLICK HERE     (PAGE 7)


After trauma,  social interpretations change                    CLICK HERE 



Look for other parts of this series “Nowhere to Hide” on LucidWitness.com  for more information.


Trigger warning:  the children’s experiences in the vignettes are unvarnished.  Their traumatic responses may trigger painful memories.


Nowhere to Hide the Elephant in the [Class]Room   (overview)


Nowhere to Hide.  Maria Fight, flight or freeze?

Nowhere to Hide.  Andre’s fear.   What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Nowhere to Hide.  Jamar’s Hyperarousal

Nowhere to Hide.  Roberto’s Dissociation

Nowhere to Hide:  Danny’s Memory

Nowhere to Hide:  Ashley’s “Normal” Education?   Part 1

Nowhere to Hide:  Ashley’s “Normal” Education?   Part 2



Click below for more “Peek Inside a Classroom”;

The  original series, “Peek Inside a Classroom”, provides much more detailed looks inside my classroom, primarily focused on specific students: Jasmine, Danny and Jose.  Other vignettes are captured in broader looks at education reform concepts: “Failing Schools or Failing Paradigm?” and “Effective Education Reform.”

Peek Inside a Classroom:  Jasmine

Peek Inside a Classroom:  Danny

Peek Inside a Classroom: Jose

Peek Inside a Classroom:  Failing Schools or Failing Paradigm?

Peek Inside a Classroom:  Effective Education Reform (with Dr. Sandra Bloom, M.D.)



“Like” us at  “Trauma-Informed Pedagogy” on Facebook


Want more ?    
CLICK FOR MORE RESOURCES:  Developmental Trauma


1.   Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Studies:   CLICK HERE

 2.  Impacts of Childhood Trauma:  Overview:                      CLICK HERE

Click for Resources: Social Media on Impacts of Childhood Trauma

Click for Resources: Journal Articles on Impacts of Developmental Trauma

 3.   Trauma-Informed Schools                                               CLICK HERE 

 4.  Trauma-Informed Social Services                                CLICK HERE 

 5.   Trauma-Informed Juvenile Justice                             CLICK HERE

 6.  Trauma-Informed Public Policy                                   CLICK HERE

 7.  Childhood Trauma Training and Tools                     CLICK HERE

 8.  Book and Publication selections                                CLICK HERE

9.   #800 phone numbers                                                         CLICK HERE



“Like” us at  “Trauma-Informed Pedagogy” on Facebook




21 thoughts on “* * NOWHERE TO HIDE * * Jamar’s Hyperarousal Defense”

Comment here (Really, please).

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s