I'm reading a brilliant book at the moment called 'The Body Keeps the Score' by Bessel Van Der Kolk, which addresses the issue of child abuse, which he cites as the largest public health problem in America...
Research has shown that different forms of abuse have different impacts on various brain areas at different stages of development. Your early experiences basically shape your brain for life. The earlier the abuse starts, the greater the impact - this is what we are only now finding out. In a study at Cambridge Hospital, it was found that 81% of patients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder reported severe histories of child abuse and/or neglect.
It is estimated that eradicating child abuse in America would reduce the overall rate of depression by more than half, alcoholism by two-thirds, and suicide, IV drug use, and domestic violence by three-quarters. Those are incredibly sobering statistics.
On a deep level, the bodies of incest victims have trouble distinguishing between danger and safety and I think this is key to the path to healing. The imprint of past trauma does not only consist of perceptions of information coming from the outside; the body/organism itself has a problem knowing how to feel safe. The past is impressed not only on their minds, but on the very core of their beings: in the safety of their bodies.
How do survivors of child abuse learn what is safe and what is not safe, what is inside and what is outside, what should be resisted and what can safely be taken in? In effect, with childhood abuse, you are starting off with a torn map of the world. This makes it incredibly hard to navigate.
As a healer, I'm intrigued especially by the physiological impact - that the brain has been shaped by early experiences. The important question is how we as practitioners can help a client to script and draw a cohesive map of the world, one in which they know their boundaries, and feel safe and heard. It is about helping to build the foundations that were not given in childhood.
Pacing and timing feel important in this - and also giving enough space. As the poet W H Auden wrote:
Truth, like love and sleep, resents Approaches that are too intense.
Early experiences affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health. Just as a weak foundation compromises the quality and strength of a house, adverse experiences early in life can impair brain architecture, with negative effects lasting into adulthood. (Harvard univerity)
Craniosacral sessions are available with Ri in Bristol, Cirencester and Cherington.