Tag Archives: brain development

* * NOWHERE TO HIDE * * Danny’s Memory

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Danny is an young boy haunted by memories of fear.

Danny’s subconscious, developmental trauma  memories can cause sudden outbursts anywhere, including his school classroom.  Outbursts of screaming, guttural cursing, ripping  papers or books, flipping desks, flying objects, then sprinting off down the hall, maybe slumping over in tears with heavy sobbing.

Others watching often see the behavior as “anger”.

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Danny’s memories relate to his mom: her dangerous, illegal street-activities,  her punishment of him with extended, icy-cold showers, her angry beatings of him and his siblings, his insecurity and fear when she was taken away and incarcerated.  There is also his absent father:  read “more ‘fear of abandonment.'”  Then add fear and the chronic vigilance required in Danny’s drug-infested, crime-riddled neighborhood.

 

Explicit memory

“Memory” is an amazing thing.

Neuroscience tell us that everyone’s brain builds “associations” or connections.  Normally, inputs from our five senses get connected to events(with time and place) and linguistics, then stored.

We call the stored associations ‘memories’, explicit memories.

We can consciously recall explicit memories and describe them with words.

 

Implicit memory

‘Survival-mode’, or fear memories,  are called implicit memories.

Implicit memories are stored differently.  In times of overwhelming fear or stress, a sensory experience is linked only to an emotion, an  extremely intense emotion. Storage of those memories is directed by ‘fear center’ of the brain (amygdala)  with no connection to time, place or language, as in ‘scared speechless’.

These sensory-based,  “implicit” memories hang-on virtually permanently.

The brain’s siren-center, the amygdala, grows disproportionately from chronic fear-usage.

Meanwhile,  the chronic stress inhibits and diminishes the brain’s  linguistic memory system in the hippocampus.

 

Chronic trauma, or toxic stress, during development,  is beginning to change the physical architecture of Danny’s brain.

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Photo © Daun Kauffman

 

Memory “Triggers”

A  “trigger”  is a sensory reminder in the present moment, matching to a stored emotion from an experience in his past.

Danny’s visible, outward behaviors start with the  internal ‘trigger’.

The specific trigger is unseen to us and usually unknown to Danny,  but it’s a powerful sensation and an overwhelming force engraved in Danny’s life.

Memory “triggers” can seem disconnected and can be perplexing and frustrating for all:

Maybe Danny’s seemingly unrelated ice-cold drink that came with school breakfast will trigger a memory of an ice-cold shower, or  maybe a glimpse of someone’s untucked shirt or gold wrist watch will flash like in Mom’s fights.  Maybe hearing someone’s whispered curse, or simply seeing a color or pattern like in Mom’s blouse.  Maybe, simply a loud startling voice.

At times, the triggers are impossible to identify, even by Danny.  The memory is not explicit, there are no words with it:  it is only associated with intense fear emotion.

The room can be completely calm.  It doesn’t matter.  The fear and emotion are not in the room.  They are firmly rooted in Danny’s memory.  Implicit memories can be powerful, even controlling.

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Photo © Daun Kauffman
Photo © Daun Kauffman

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After a fear memory is triggered, the neurobiological alarm rings.  Danny’s heart-pounding biology is off to the races.

Danny suddenly becomes aggressive in class, shoving classmates, screaming loud, insulting curses, threatening someone, throwing books, throwing chairs, or maybe sprinting out of the building. Why?  All Danny’s ‘commotion’ relates to a sensory connection in his amygdala, which triggered his aggressive fear response.

Danny instinctively uses aggression to divert his own mind from his own intense fear.  It’s not related to anything Danny’s conscious of.

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Photo © Daun Kauffman

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What looks like anger to us is really Danny’s fear response.

The entire neurobiological chain reaction is nature’s logical defense to developmental trauma.

 

Whether abuse, family dysfunction or neglect, trauma impacts 2 out of 3 kids at some level.

Experts describe childhood trauma as a ‘national crisis’, an ‘epidemic’.  Meanwhile, Danny is losing his right to equal access.  Equal Access to an education.

Schools are not trauma-informed.
It’s morally wrong.
It’s urgent.

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Trauma-Informed adults CAN make a difference.

Get Informed.  Click on links below.

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Photo © Daun Kauffman
Photo © Daun Kauffman

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

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Toxic stress changes brain architecture                        CLICK HERE        (2 minute video)  

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What is a “trigger”?                                                                   CLICK HERE 

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Fear Memories: How the Brain Stores….                      CLICK HERE

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Persistent Fear, Anxiety Can Affect Learning and Development  Center on Developing Child at Harvard University       CLICK HERE 

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Understanding the Behavioral and Emotional Consequences of Child Abuse                                                                                     CLICK HERE

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Creating Sanctuary: Toward Evolution of Sane Societies (Revised Ed.)   Sandra L. Bloom, M. D.  (Chapter 1 p 32-44)   CLICK HERE    Implicit vs. Explicit

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More on Danny : “Peek Inside a Classroom”,                                                                                                                                                CLICK HERE

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

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     “Nowhere to Hide” series overview

                                             click HERE
Photo © Daun Kauffman

 

             “Nowhere to Hide” series links

Each separate, individual article in the series focuses on a single component of the workings of developmental trauma, via real life examples in short “60 second” soundbites, akin to “Public Service Announcements” (PSAs).  They are designed for sharing in social media networks to grow public awareness.

Trigger warning: 

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

 

Nowhere to Hide:  Maria; Fight, flight or freeze

Photo © Daun Kauffman

Nowhere to Hide:  Andre’s Fear; What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Photo © Daun Kauffman

Nowhere to Hide:  Jamar’s Hyper-arousal 

Photo © Daun Kauffman

Nowhere to Hide:  Roberto’s Dissociation 

Public Domain @ Pixabay

Nowhere to Hide:  Danny’s Memory

Photo © Daun Kauffman

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

Pixabay: adamova1210

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

Photo © Daun Kauffman

More to come

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

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Please share a PSA link to help grow public awareness of the impacts of developmental trauma. There are so many of us who’ve never heard of the overpowering life-long impacts.

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“Peek Inside a Classroom” series overview

The second original series, “Peek Inside a Classroom”, provides much more detailed looks inside my classroom, primarily focused on specific students: Jasmine, Danny and José.

Other children are captured in broader looks at education reform concepts: “Failing Schools or Failing Paradigm?” and “Effective Education Reform”, co-authored with Sandra L. Bloom, M. D..

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“Peek Inside a Classroom” series links

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Peek Inside a Classroom:  Jasmine

© Elliot Gilfix/Flickr

Peek Inside a Classroom:  Danny

Photo © Daun Kauffman

Peek Inside a Classroom: José

belseykurns: Pixabay public domain
belseykurns: Pixabay public domain

Peek Inside a Classroom:  Failing Schools or Failing Paradigm?

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

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“Click for Resources…”  series overview:

“Click for Resources”  posts are the theory and research behind the narrative posts in  “Nowhere to Hide” and “Peek Inside a Classroom”.

Each post in “Click for Resources “ is divided in three parts:

1) general press articles,

2) Research Journals or academic papers

3) social media, often with video.

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“Click for Resources” series links:

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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

Flickr: andrew and hobbes

 4.  Trauma-Informed Social Services                                CLICK HERE 

Flickr: andrew and hobbes

 5.   Trauma-Informed Juvenile Justice                             CLICK HERE

Flickr: andrew and hobbes

 6.  Trauma-Informed Public Policy                                   CLICK HERE

Flickr: andrew and hobbes

 7.  Childhood Trauma Training and Tools                     CLICK HERE

the concept of learning

 8.  Book and Publication selections                                CLICK HERE

Public Domain

9.   #800 phone numbers                                                         CLICK HERE

Pixabay: Public Domain
Developmental trauma,  still “the elephant in the  [class] room”  for many adults.

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

 

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