About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Psychological History of Adoption Psychopathy


The Psychological History of Adoption Psychopathy



Clothier. F. MD. 1943.
Clothier says in her paper in Mental Hygiene (1943). "Every adopted child at some point in his development, has been deprived of this primitive relationship with his mother. This trauma and the severing of the individual from his racial antecedents lie at the core of what is peculiar to the psychology of the adopted child.
The adopted child presents all the complications in social and emotional development in the own child. But the ego of the adopted child, in addition to all the demands made upon it, is called upon to compensate for the wound left by the loss of the biological mother".
The child who is placed with adoptive parents at or soon after birth misses the mutual and deeply satisfying mother and child relationship. The roots of which lie deep in the area of personality where the psychological and physiological are merged. Both for the child and the natural mother, that period is part of the biological sequence, and it is to be doubted whether the relationship of the child to it's post partum mother, in its subtler effects, can be replaced by even the best of substitute mothers.
But those subtle effects lie so deeply buried in the personality that, in the light of our present knowledge, we cannot evaluate them.
Clothier says: "We do know more about the trauma that an older baby suffers when he is separated from his mother with whom his relationship is no longer parasitic, but toward whom he has developed active social strivings".
For some children, and in some stages of development, the severing of a budding social relationship can cause irreparable harm. The childs willingness to sacrifice instinctive gratifications and infantile pleasures for the sake of a love relationship has proved a bitter disillusionment, and he may be reluctant to give himself into a love relationship again.
The child who is placed in infancy has the opportunity of passing through his oedipal development in relation to his adoptive parents without an interruption, that in the childs phantasy, may amount to the most severe of punishments.
Because of the love the baby has come to need to receive from his mother and to give to his mother, he accepts his first responsibility in life, namely toilet training. He gives up infantile sources of pleasure for the sake of his mother, who's love he wants to hold and whom he wants to please.
The child who lacks the motivation of a growing social and emotional relationship with a highly valued love object, does not accept training in a spirit of co-operation. If he accepts it at all, it is likely to be in response to fear of the consequences of wetting and soiling. Many children use persistent wetting and soiling as a method of expressing their antagonism to a mother with whom they have not experienced an early, satisfying love relationship.
Brisley. (1939) points out that the illegitimate baby (and this applies to the prospective candidate for adoption) is under abnormal pressure to "be good". This implies first being quiet and taking feeds well, and later, accepting toilet training at an early age. This emphasis Brisley suggests is a "contributing factor to the insecurity and feeling of aloneness which seems characteristic of the illegitimate child."
Clothier goes on to say, "that every child, whether living with his parents or with foster parents, has a recourse to phantasy when he finds himself frustrated, threatened or incapable of dominating his environment. For the adopted child it is not a phantasy that these parents with whom he lives with are not his parents, it is reality.
For the adopted child, the second set of parents are obviously the unknown lost real parents. His normal ambivalence will make use of this reality situation to focus his love impulses on one set of parents and his hate impulses on another. He finds an easy escape from the frustrations inherent in his home education by assuming the attitude that these, his adoptive parents, are his bad and wicked persecutors, whereas his dimly remembered own or foster parents, from whom he was 'stolen' are represented in his phantasy as the good parents to whom he owes his love and allegiance".



Marshall D.Schechter. M.D., Beverly Hills California.
In his paper on the Observations of Adopted Children.
In a series of cases seen by him the percentage of adopted children was 13.3 as compared with the national average of 0.134. This indicates a hundredfold increase of patients in this category compared with what could be expected in the general population.
Toussieng (April 1958) of the out patients and admissions service said that one third of all patients coming to the Menninger out patient clinic were adopted.
Schechter, goes on to say. The striking thing in most cases was that the feature of their adoptive status played a significant role in the underlying dynamics of the problem.
He observed in many of his case studies on adopted children symptoms relating to such things as fantasies and "acting out" regarding the real parents, i.e. their appearance, their names and killing and murder especially toward their real mother.
Observations also included outbursts toward the adoptive parents telling them they would not do as the parents say because they were not their real parents. He also goes on to say that adopted children suffer symptoms of depression, feelings of incompleteness, phobic fear of abandonment, anxiety, aloofness and distancing of them selves which made close relationships impossible.
Schechter also noted hyperactivity and unmanageability in children of a young age. He also observed,
particularly with one child, that it had relationships of the same quality with strangers as his parents, namely, superficial and dominated by a driving need to have his impulses satisfied immediately. The child could easily be comforted by a stranger as easily as by his mother.
In the behaviour of young adopted girls Schechter observed instances of such things as sex-play, exhibitionism, seductiveness and regression.
He also noted in cases of adopted boys, problems of lying, stealing, and lack of integration with others.
Schechter's observations of the adoptive parents were that often the adoptive mothers had intense feelings of inadequacy regarding their womanly functions that contributed to an over protectiveness to the children. These feelings also served as a constant reminder of her barrenness, stimulating her need to tell the story of "the chosen one".
Prior to adoption, some of these people had recognized emotional problems within themselves. Some had thought of the children as potential saviours of their marriage. Some felt that a child was essential to prove their masculinity.
Toussieng. (1958) commenting on the repetition of the story of adoption and of how "we picked you" suggests that the real parents did not want him and therefore were bad parents. Therefore, though the parents stress the wanting aspect they at the same time play the "abandonment theme".
The belief of "I'm no good: because my parents gave me away because I was no good and I am going to prove them right" is not uncommon in adoptive children.
In his comments Schechter reports we could see how the idea of adoption had woven itself into the framework of the childs personality configuration. It played a role in symptom formation and object relationships. It certainly had an effect in later development, giving the stamp of antisocial behaviour and that of a paranoidal system.
He summarises by stating " The patients in this paper do not have a fantasy about being adopted, they were adopted. Their daydream, which cannot be combated by denial, is the connection with their real parents. Who were they? What were they? Why did they give me up? Do I have any living relatives? What was my name, etc?
Clothier. (April;1943) states. A deep identification with our fore-bears as experienced originally in the mother-child relationship, gives us our most fundamental security. . . Every adopted child at some point in his development has been deprived of his primitive relationship with his mother. This trauma and the removal of the individual from his racial antecedent lie at the core of what is peculiar to the psychology of the adopted child.
Toussieng (1958) states; the adolescence of the adopted child seems to be a particularly difficult one because it is harder for adoptive adolescents to accept their rebellion against the adoptive parents, to give them up as love objects. Furthermore, I have now seen a number of cases in which children in adolescence start roaming around almost aimlessly, though some times they are seeking someone or some thing. They seem to be seeking the fantasised "good real parents".
Benedek (1938) presents an important concept regarding the development of confidence based on
mother-child relationship. This is the area so sensitive in these adopted children and which can be found to under-lie so many of their disturbances.


Dr. Povl W. Toussieng. M.D.
Dr Toussieng was a child psychiatrist at The Menninger Clinic Topeka, Kansas.
Dr Toussieng suggests that adopted children seem more prone to emotional disturbances than non-adopted children; he concludes that their conflicts are caused by their adoptive parents unresolved resistance to parenthood.
He says that in spite of careful screening of adopted children and their prospective parents prior to adoption, a disproportionately large percentage of these children eventually come to psychiatric or other professional attention because of emotional, educational or social problems.
The fact that sixty one percent of the first and only child in an adopting family were particularly prone to disturbances suggested that they should look elsewhere than in the children themselves for the factors contributing to later disturbances. The children presented at the Childrens Service tended to present many severe difficulties.
Toussieng also acknowledges that severe emotional disturbances and personality disorders are
over-represented among adopted children and that they may have severe emotional difficulties that may never come to the attention of professionals.
He points out that on reaching adulthood some children become obsessed with finding their real mother because they had revealed a feeling of never having been really attached to their adoptive family and never had the feeling of real belonging.
Toussieng refers to Deutsh (1945) where she discusses the influences of unconscious attitudes and conflicts on the abilities of the adoptive mother to be motherly toward their adopted children. She believes that an adoptive mothers failure to develop motherliness is the major cause of later disturbances in the child. They (the mothers) view the adopted child as narcissistic injury, as evidence that they themselves are damaged. The child in trying to identify with such parents may well acquire shaky and defective introjects.
Toussieng summarises by stating "children who have been adopted at an early age and/or who have not been exposed to psychological traumatization before adoption seem to be more prone to emotional disturbances than non-adopted children.



Michael Humphrey and Christopher Ounsted.
Michael Humphrey, M.A. B.Sc Principal Clinical Psychologist. Warneford and Park Hospitals.
Christopher Ounsted. D.M.,D.C.H., D.P.M., Consultant-in Charge Park Hospital for Children.
In a control group of 41 early age adoptees they distinguished the following symptoms. Emotional reactions (tantrums, negativism, jealousy). Enuresis, anxiety, disturbed social behaviour, aggression, withdrawl, stealing, cruelty, destructiveness, lying and encopresis.
They were impressed with finding out that one in two children adopted late had been stealing as compared to one in four children adopted at an early age. The action appeared in several cases to be expressly directed at the adoptive mother, either from a sense of rejection (in some cases well founded) or as an appeal for more individual attention. Sometimes the money would be spent on presents for friends in the hope of gaining popularity. Some of these children have stolen compulsively over a long period with no sign of remorse.
They found the adopted children suffered from varying degrees of parental deprivation, neglect, parental rejection or at the opposite extreme, over-indulgence, mental or physical illness sufficient to impair the quality of parental love, and jealously of a sibling born before or too soon after the adoption.



Schechter.M. Carlson.P.V. Simmons. J.Q. and Work. H.H.
In a paper submitted to the Childrens Bureau, US Department of Health Aug 1963.
The factor of adoption played a consistently important role in the genesis and perpetuation of the given
symptom picture. Two major hypotheses were suggested for the higher incidence of psychological disturbances in the adoptee. Firstly the adoptee may intra-physically continue a split between good and bad in his infantile object relations, since in reality he has two sets of parents. Secondly, the adoptive parent is often confused in his or her role due to unconscious guilts and hostilities and tends to project this disturbance backward into the heredity of the child i.e. the natural parents.
Phipps(1953) mentioned the tendency of parents to speak about the heredity of the child as the major causative factor in behavioural difficulties.
Lemon E.M. (1959) referred to the difficulty that the adopted individual has in dealing with communication concerning his adopted status with a resulting tendency to weave factual material together with much fantasied material in his thoughts as he seeks his natural parents.
They went on to say that these patients perceived their adoptive parents as inadequate especially with the setting of limits and viewed their natural parents as their adequate set of parents.
Livermore J. B (1961) suggests that the adoptees have specific problems in identification, since the adoptive mother constantly reactivates primitive unconscious fears that her own insides have been destroyed.
They summarised by saying. "We feel that we have offered substantial evidence from many sources that the non-relative adopted child may be more prone to emotional difficulties".



A statement from the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 1967.37 402. Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Centre Norwalk Connecticut.
The number of adopted adolescent children who are referred to our centre and other centres is larger than their ratio in the general population. "We are impressed with the extent to which these children are pre-occupied with the theme of their adoption".
They go on to talk about the similarity of the traits and attitudes in these children which they refer to as the "Adoption Syndrome".



Dr Christopher Ounsted, MA, DM, MRCP, DCH, DPM.
Dr Ounsted states that in the late fifties it had become apparent to him and his colleagues at the Park Street Hospital for Children that they were seeing an unexpectedly large number of adopted children. Many of the children owed their disabilities either to some inate handicap or to defects in the structure of their families, such as having parents who were psychotic, inadequate, psychopathic, defective, or in some other way not able to fulfil their parental roles adequately.
Ounsted noted that of the symptoms of adopted patients, compulsive theft was more significant.



Henry Kemp. Archives of Diseases in Childhood (1971) states that some children may be more vulnerable to abuse than others. Among them are the hyperactive, the precocious, the premature, the stepchild and the adopted.



1974 Dr Triseliotis in his research paper on Identity and Adoption, gives examples of adoptees views on identity.
      1st adoptee,
            "I look in the mirror and cannot recognise myself".
      2nd adoptee,
            "I feel there is something about adoption that gives you a feeling of insecurity as regards just
            exactly who you are".
      3rd adoptee,
            "I feel that I am only a half a person, the other half obscured by my adoption".
      4th adoptee,
            "I never really felt I belonged. I feel empty and I find it difficult to make friends or be close to
            people. I have been hovering on the edge of a break down".

One of the main anxieties of adoptees is the fear of being different and somewhat set apart from the rest.
The adopted child has to gradually accept the loss of his natural parents and the "rejection" this implies. Yet he has to also accomodate a preferably positive image of the original set of parents and their genealogy in his developing self.
Children who are adopted into a different culture will still need to identify with aspects of their original heritage.



Bennett Olshaker, MD. In his paper "What shall We Tell the Kids", he notes that the adopted person has to contend with the feeling that he was abandoned, but we can try to help him in a positive manner by portraying his natural parents in a positive manner. He goes on to say that some adoptive parents may feel that their childs' parents were immoral for having a child out of wedlock. These sentiments create difficulties for the parents when the child has questions regarding sexual matters.



Harper.J.; Williams. S. 1976.
This was an investigation over a period of five years from 1969-1974 into 22 adopted children admitted into the childrens unit at North Ryde Psychiatric Centre. Six were referred at age eleven and over, three were referred before their fifth birthday and the remaining thirteen fell between five and ten years and eleven months.
Symptoms in the children ranged from depression, aggressive acting out behaviour to stealing. In some
instances stealing was a desperate attempt to buy friendship since the stolen money was to buy sweets and toys for peers. In other instances it seemed to compensate for the loss of the real mother by acquisition of material goods. In all cases it could be seen as a cry for help.
In some instances admission to the unit signals the relinquishing of parental responsibility as evidenced by eight cases where the child was made a ward of the state and placed in a child welfare home. A summary of the various outcomes indicated that they on the whole were unsatisfactory with one third settling back into their adoptive families with a positive prognosis and two thirds demonstrating a breakdown or possible breakdown in the adoptions.
Family trauma and parental pathology was investigated since it was felt that the stress of adoption could not alone account for the severity of symptoms and outcomes in the children. In terms of family trauma one mother and one father suicided after a history of depressive illness, one set of adoptive parents were murdered, two fathers were killed in car accidents with the adoptive child present and three fathers were unusually violent and aggressive men.
In seven cases, the mothers had a history of psychiatric illness prior to the adoption, including one with a schizophrenic illness. In the case of the seven mothers and three fathers for whom a psychiatric diagnosis was made after the adoption, one can only speculate on the degree to which extra-familial stresses and internal pressures contributed toward this decompensation.



Rickarby. G.A. Eagan. P. 1980.
Rickarby and Eagan say that in their and others studies, there has been consistent evidence of morbidity of various types in adopted adolescents. He states that adoptive families are four times more as likely as biological to seek help for their distress. Acting out, degrees of depression, identity crisis and special roles, (the bad one, the mad one, or the sick one) may constitute an adolescent's expression of a families dysfunction.
With the added issues of adoption, adolescent development crises become more difficult and the concomitant distress and behaviour exaggerated. These situations include the adolescent who is unable to communicate to others his frightening or idealized fantasies about his biological parents and who cannot readily accept the identity expected of him in his adoptive family and the adopted adolescent who is struggling to cope in a family beset by marital conflict or mental illness.
Cultural fables may have a destructive aspect on the adopted adolescents development. One such fable is "the chosen child". This is often a source of great anger to the child whose experience of his family has not been "good enough". His anger is directed at the adoptive parents because these people "chose him".
Another fable is that of "the poor child whose parents did not want him" and who was adopted by the bountiful parents to whom the child should be ever more grateful.



Silverman. M.A. 1985. Discusses in his paper that when adoptive status is foisted upon a child, the child is encumbered with so many problems that he or she is at risk of developing a host of psychological problems. This is particularly so if the child learns of his adoption at an early age.
These can be unhappiness, separation problems, difficulty knowing and learning, aggressive fantasies and acts, preoccupation with knives and other weapons, and his feelings of being deprived and robbed.
Adoptive status tends to affect multiple aspects of the developing personality. It interferes with the childs sense of security, the modulation of and channelling of the childs aggression, the development and resolution of the Oedipus complex, super-ego formation, and identity formation.
To lose a parent early in life, especially when there is a felt element of cruel rejection and desertion, as there tends to be when a child is told of adoption while still in the throes of "sadistic-anal" ambivalence and the hostile-dependent struggles of the reproachment crisis of separation-individuation, mobilizes in tense fear and rage. The rage at the abandoning parents is in part directed toward the adoptive parents.
In part the rage is turned back on the self, contributing to the fantasy that the child was abandoned by the original parents because he or she was bad, troublesome, greedy, and destructive.
Silverman goes on to say "nearly every adopted child or adult I have treated sooner or later has revealed the fantasy that the reason for the adoption was the biological mother died in childbirth, which tends to be depicted as a tearing, ripping, bloody, murderous affair in which the baby gains life by taking the life of the mother".
The adopted child not only needs to learn about pregnancy and childbirth to solve the mysteries of his or her origins, but also needs to find out if he or she is really a murderer! Adopted children often entertain the fantasy that the original father too has died.



Wilson. : Green. : Soth. : 1986. Report that many adopted adolescent patients in their hospital (10 out of 21) have received a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. This diagnosis, made official in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd edition 1980), includes the following symptoms: impulsivity or unpredictability in areas that are potentially self damaging, a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships with idealization, devaluation and manipulation, inappropriate intense anger.
Identity disturbance was manifested by uncertainty about several issues relating to identity, intolerence of being alone, affective instability, physically self damaging acts, and chronic feelings of boredom and emptyness. It is theorised that this disorder arose because of deficits in early parenting experiences which did not enable the child to develop a core identity, so they didnt feel part of a fused dyad, which explains their fear of abandonment and intolerence of being alone.



Kirshner.D. Nagel.L. 1988.
Is there a distinct pattern of presenting behaviours and symptoms among adopted children and adolescents referred for psychotherapy? Some clinicians and clinical researchers whose day to day observations strongly suggest that such a pattern does, in fact exist. The senior author has observed extreme provocative, aggressive, antisocial, and delinquent conduct much more consistently among adoptees than their non-adopted counterparts.
Behind the recurrent behavioural and personality patterns there have emerged emotional and psychodynamic issues specifically linked to adoption.
Schecter, Carlson, Simmons, & Work (1964) looked at adopted and non-adopted children in a psychiatric setting and found a much greater occurrence of overt destructive acts and sexual acting-out among adoptees. Menlove (1965) used a similar sample and found significantly more aggressive symptomatology among adoptees. Although several predicted differences were significant, adoptees had significantly more hyperactivity, hostility, and negativism, and significantly more of them had passive-aggressive personalities.
What then is the adopted child syndrome? On the behaviourial level, it it is an antisocial pattern that usually includes pathological lying, stealing, and manipulativeness. Fire setting is sometimes seen and promiscuous behaviour is common.
Typically, the child seeks out delinquent, antisocial children or adults often of a lower economic class than the adoptive family. Provocative, disruptive behaviour is directed toward authority figures, notably teachers and parents. The child often threatens to run away, and in many cases repeatedly does so.
Truancy is common, as well as academic under-achievement and, in many cases there are significant learning problems. There is a typically shallow quality to the attachment formed by the child, and a general lack of meaningful relationships. The child reports feeling "different" and "empty".
Yet the parents of most children with the Adopted Child Syndrome exhibit a pattern of tension and denial surrounding the issue of adoption. It soon becomes apparent however, that communication about adoption is not simply absent; much worse, the parents are tacitly communicating a message that the topic is dangerous and taboo.
The child, sensing his parents' insecurity and anxiety, is left to imagine what terrible truths they might be hiding. He feels an ominous pressure against voicing his feelings and curiosity. He senses that his adoptive parents would feel his interest in his birth parents was disloyal. He not only experiences a dread of the truth but also the stifling of his normal curiosity.



Treadwell Penny, talks about Dr F.H. Stone, former consultant in child psychiatry at the Royal Hospital for sick children in Glasgow. Writing about the problems of identity experienced in adolescence by adopted children,
Stone says:
"When there are emotional problems, really basic problems connected with identification, something is likely to happen. Instead of the young person playing roles, he may very actively take on a particular favoured role, which he proceeds to live, and this role tends often to be the least in favour with the parents or other adults who care for this young person.
And so we see again and again in our clinics the parents of teenagers who come to us in utter
despair and say `Not only are we worried about the child, but the very things we have always been most afraid of: thats what he is doing'. If it was drugs then it was drugs; if it was promiscuity it was promiscuity; if it was failure to learn then it was failure to learn".
Psychologist Erick Erickson. . . calls this a "negative identity". One can readily appreciate the relevance of this to the adoptive situation, because here we see the danger, in the confusion or embarrassment of explaining to the child about the natural mother or father, of denigrating them either as people who abandoned him, who did not care for him, or who had certain attributes of personality or behaviour. The danger here is that this will backlash, and later on, especially in adolescence, this is precisely the mode of behaviour which the child adopts in his "negative identity".



Robert.S. Andersen asks; "What then about the question as to why the adoptees are searching? This question can be paraphrased thus: "Why are you interested in your mother, your father, your sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews, ancestry, history, aptitudes, liabilities - in short why are you interested in you?"
This is the tragedy, that adoptees more often than not do not feel justified in living life as it is, but have to come out with socially acceptable excuses to justify their interest, needs, and their lives.
They cannot be honest with themselves or others because the conflictual forces, external if in the form of "how could you do this to your adoptive parents", or internal if in the form of "she gave me up and I do not want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that it matters", interfere with the living of life from their own original position.
Searching, is not simply an intellectual activity for the adoptee. There is an emotional component as well, and it is my belief that this emotional component is the most important part. If one genuinely wonders why adoptees search, I think that a comprehensive answer must include the following: On one level, adoptees search so they might see, touch, and talk to their biological mother - the search is an effort to make contact with one's biological family. On a different level (the bottom line), it is something more than this. I think that the search is most fundamentally, an expression of the wish to undo the trauma of separation.
Adoptees either hope (unrealistically, but not necessarily unexpectantly) to relive the life that was lost at the time of the separation, or hope (more realistically) to heal the wound caused by the separation, and therefore provide a more solid base for their lives.



Kaplan.S.; Silverstein. D.:
   1.Loss: Adoption is created through loss. Without loss there can be no adoption.
   2.Rejection: One way people deal with loss is to figure out what they did was wrong so they can keep from having other losses. In doing this, people may conclude they suffered losses because they were unworthy of having whatever was lost. As a result they feel they were rejected.
   3.Guilt and shame: When people personalize a loss to the extent that they feel there is something
      intrinsically wrong with themselves that caused the loss, they often feel guilt that they did something wrong or feel shame that others may know. (Silverstein).
   4.Grief: Because adoption is seen as a problem solving event in which everyone gains, rather than an event in which loss is integral, it is difficult for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birthparents to grieve. There are no rituals to bury unborn children, roles, dead dreams and disconnected families.
   5.Identity: A person's identity is derived from who he is and what he is not. Adoption threatens a persons knowing of who he is, where he came from, and where he is going.
   6.Intimacy: People who are confused about their identity have difficulty getting close to anyone, Kaplan says. And people who have had significant loss in their lives may fear getting close to others because of the risk of experiencing loss again.
   7.Control: All those involved with adoption have been "forced to give up control" said Silverstein. Adoption is a second choice. There is a crisis who's resolution is adoption.



Unlike the adoptive mother the baby has experienced pregnancy. The child-in-the-womb has built up a a rhythmical biological bond with the woman who will not be his mother. Prenatal psychologists believe the adopted baby has to learn to separate from the mother he has known in-utro and form an attachment to the new set of parents. Some adoptive parents believe this too.
They feel that the newborn baby has already had intimate prenatal and birth experiences and possible
memories from which they are excluded. These parents interpret the babies cries or discomfort as pining for the birthmother's smell, her touch, the sound of her voice or naturally synchronized rhythmicity. Such hypersensitivity and fear of rejection by the the baby may reflect the adopting parents own unconfessed preferences for a "natural child" of their own.
Arrival of an adopted baby revives the sense of having "stolen" a child they were not entitled to have. In addition, fantasies about the babies unknown conceptual and genetic history contribute to difficulties in falling in love with the little stranger who is to be part of their lives.



Verrier Nancy, 1991, believes that during gestation a mother becomes uniquely sensitised to her baby. Donald Winnicot called this phenomenon, primary maternal preoccupation. He believed that toward the end of pregnancy, the mother develops a state of heightened sensitivity, which provides a setting for the infants constitution to begin to make itself evident, for the developmental tendencies to start to unfold and for the infant to experience spontaneous movement.
He stressed the mother alone knows what the baby could be feeling and what he needs, because everyone else is outside his experience.
The mothers hormonal, physiological, constitutional and emotional preparation provides the child with a security, which no one else can. There is a natural flow from the in-utro experience of the baby safely confined in the womb to that of the baby secure within the mothers arms, to the wanderings of the toddler who is secure in the mothers proximity to her. This security provides the child with a sense of rightness and wholeness of self.
For these babies and their mother, relinquishment and adoption are not concepts, they are experiences they can never fully recover from. A child can certainly attach to another care giver, but rather than a secure, serene feeling of oneness, the attachment is one in which the adoptive relationship may be what Bowlby has referred to as anxious attachment.
He noted that "provided there is one particular mother figure to who he can relate and who mothers him lovingly, he will in time take to and treat her as though she were almost his mother. That "almost" is the feeling expressed by the adoptive mothers who feel as if they had accepted the infant but the infant had not quite accepted them as mother.

The Adoption Denial


The Adoption Denial

The secrecy in an adoptive family, and the denial that the adoptive family is different builds dysfunction into it. "... while social workers and insecure adoptive parents have structured a family relationship that is based on dishonesty, evasions and exploitation. To believe that good relationships will develop on such a foundation is psychologically unsound" (Lawrence). As John Bradshaw, the well-renowned therapist, says, "A family is only as sick as its secrets."
#1.) Adoption's Secrecy erects barriers to forming a healthy identity. 
#2.) Sealed adoption records implicitly demands an extreme form of self-denial. 
#3.) There is no psychology school of psychotherapy which regards denial as a positive strategy in forming a sense of self and dealing with day-to-day realities. (Howard)
Adoption is a psychological burden to the adoptee. The effect of this burden is known, but the origin is confused. Secrecy plays a part in it, but Nancy Newton Verrier, Ph.D., sources the difficulties to the separation of the newborn from the biological mother.     The-Primal-Wound theory is the most recent and revealing work done on the effects of adoption on the adopted. In the author's own words, "I believe that the connection established during the nine months in utero is a profound connection, and it is my hypothesis that the severing of that connection in the original separation of the adopted child from the birth mother causes a primal or narcissistic wound, which affects the adoptee's sense of Self and often manifests in a sense of loss, basic mistrust, anxiety and depression, emotional and/or behavioral problems, and difficulties in future relationships with significant others (21).       " Verrier has been criticized for her work, but her response says it all, "The only people who can really judge this work, however, are those about whom it is written: the adoptees themselves. Only they, as they note their responses to what is written here, will really know in their deepest selves the validity of this work, the existence or nonexistence of the primal wound" (xvii).
Secrecy, denial, and the primal wound have all played a role in the effect adoption has on the adoptee, but there is still more. Having spent nearly eight years studying and working as a volunteer with over 1000 people affected by an adoption (nearly all adoptees and birthmothers); I have seen the effects of adoption.
Humans have a basic need to feel they are individually whole, yet part of a whole. For the adopted this can be difficult. Often adoptees feel they do not belong (Kirschner). It is very lonely and isolating to feel different from those you should feel the closest to, your family. Edin Lipinski, M.D., brings insight to these feelings:
In an existential sense, the past is as important to adopted people as their future. It is the present that is most troublesome. Not knowing where they fit into the spectrum of happenings is a great problem for them.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Abducted Child & Parent Similar to Adopted Child & Biological Mother Psychology

Abducted Child & Parent Similar to Adopted Child & Biological Mother Psychology
by Georgia K. Hilgeman, M.A.
Retired Executive Director and Founder, Vanished Children's Alliance
We see their faces smiling at us, pictures of missing children in our mail, on our television, and on posters in store windows and community bulletin boards. We have come to realize that many children are missing but we rarely learn what happens to them. On those few occasions when we do, headline news stories tell about a murdered child and a suspect being sought. Other times we rejoice when a child is found alive and is reunited with his or her family. In such cases we see, or imagine, visions of tearful reunions with hugs and kisses.

While we might wish for happy endings with reunited families living happily ever after, the truth is that the lives of abducted children and their families are forever changed.

Families where abduction has occurred may have experienced pre-stressors. Pre-stressors refer to the stress in these people’s lives before their children were abducted. When a child is abducted, the incredibly severe stress is then added to past stresses. Some typical pre-stressors might include: domestic violence, separation, divorce, child abuse, neglect, loss of a job or housing and financial insecurities. Couple the pre-stressors with the trauma of child abduction and you have parents and children in distress.

Let us look at one specific type of abduction, family abduction, which is generally perpetrated by one of the parents.

Family abduction lacks society’s recognition of its devastating and long-term impact. The public’s reaction to family abduction declares that the child is "fine." This is because he or she is with the other parent. They may believe the left behind parent must have deserved to have the child removed or that the matter is "just" a custody dispute between two battling parents. The public’s view of abducted children is defined by "stranger" abductions like Adam Walsh, Polly Klaas or Amber Swartz. Evidence clearly shows that the majority of abducted children are taken by family members.

Why do family members take children? Is it for love? Usually not, the typical motivation for family abduction is power, control, and revenge. These characteristics are also prevalent in domestic violence cases. In fact, family abduction is really a form of family violence. Some abductors may believe they are rescuing the child, but rarely do they resort to legal approaches for resolution. Some abductors are so narcissistic they do not have the ability to view their children as separate entities from themselves. These abductors believe since they hate the other parent, the child should as well. Sometimes abductors feel disenfranchised and have a culturally different perspective regarding child rearing and parenting. They may miss and want to return to their country of origin with the child.

Child victims are mostly between two and eleven years old; about 75% are six years old or younger. Two-thirds of the cases involve one child. The most common times for the abduction, detention, or concealment are January and August-thus coinciding with children's vacations and holidays (Finkelhor, et. al, 1990). Most child development experts agree that personality is formed prior to the age of six. Therefore, the abduction of a young child will have significant influence on whom he or she becomes. During the child's upbringing, hopes, wishes, fears and attitudes of the significant people around the child will more or less be adopted. The abductor influences a child's attitude toward themselves, other people, and the world in general.

Abducted children whose identities are changed may be told that the left-behind parent is dead or did not want them. Moving from place to place to avoid discovery, they are compelled to live like fugitives. They receive little or no medical care or schooling. These children are at risk, and society’s perception must be changed to recognize that the majority of family abduction victims live in dangerous and undesirable conditions.

The impact on child victims will differ. Each child is an individual with different reactions to the circumstance and with different coping styles. The impact will be affected by the pre-stressors in the child's life, the relationship the child has to the abductor as well as the relationship the child had with the left behind family and community. The child's age, character, how they were taken, length of time missing, what they were told, and their individual and cumulative experiences while abducted will also effect the child.

The left-behind family members, which include the parent(s), siblings, stepparents, step and half siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and others, will suffer as well.

Initially the left-behind family might experience shock and disbelief. They may have a rude awaking when the criminal justice response to a reported missing child is not all they might have expected when, from their point of view their child is "kidnaped." The family may have a support system or the family may consist of a left-behind parent with little support to cope with the emotions of fear, grief and loss. If the child is not returned quickly, the family is faced with a multitude of choices. Will they return to work? If not, how will they pay the bills? Should they hire a private investigator or psychic? Are they reliable? Could they get ripped off? They are emotionally distraught. They see their child's toys, clothing, room, playmates, or a child in the grocery store-all reminders of their missing child and fear of the unknown. They wonder when, if ever, they will see their child again. Convincing the authorities that the child might be in danger when taken by a family member is sometimes impossible, and usually leads to more anger, much of it turned inward, which contributes to depression. Some parents engage in their own investigations, which can be dangerous. Others try to get publicity. Some people turn to a religious belief while others feel abandoned and blame "God" for allowing their child's disappearance. Many people react with physical symptoms, which include sleep and eating disorders, headaches, and stomach aches. Many try to avoid their pain through the abuse of legal and illegal substances.

Time does not heal the wounds when the family remains in a state of limbo and left with uncertainty of what has happened to their child. Today we still hear about families who are searching for resolution to what happened to their loved ones who were considered missing in action in Vietnam some thirty years ago. Families need answers. Most searching families will, at some point learn the fate of their abducted children but the journey is grueling and often with no end in sight. Until the child's whereabouts are known and reunification has occurred, families cannot experience one of life's greatest gifts-joy. How can a parent ever be happy when he or she does not know the well being or the location of their child. Is the child dead or alive? Are they abused, hungry, cold or sick?

Time unfortunately provides additional triggers, reminders and pain: the child's birthday, the anniversary of the child’s disappearance and the holidays. It can be an emotional roller coaster for the parent when "sightings" or "leads" are received and don't materialize into an actual location and recovery.

The abducted child's siblings become forgotten victims. They have not only lost their brother or sister but in many ways their parent(s) too. Searching parents often put their focus and energy into finding the missing children and have little focus and energy left for the other children. Sometimes the siblings parent their parents. These children experience conflicting emotions. On one hand, they love and want their brothers and sisters back, and on the other hand, they are angry and resentful of the attention their brothers and sisters receive in absentia.

Families of abducted children experience serious emotional distress. The siblings appear to be forgotten, the families- history significantly influences how they handle this crisis (Hatcher, et. al, 1992) and the personality of young children who are abducted will be greatly impacted.

Most families live for the moment when they will be reunited with their children. When reunification occurs certainly one nightmare will end but it is not the end of the story.

How to Better Aid These Families

In an ideal world, community based multi-disciplinary teams would exist. These teams would include law enforcement, prosecutor, mental health, medical, missing children nonprofit, victim service and school personnel. A plan which addresses the needs of these families would be developed and implemented once a child was located and recovered.

Professionals should not disclose the actual location of a child or any lead information to the parent. A parent could go to the location and an altercation could ensue. Or a parent could disclose the information to someone who communicates with the abductor. The abductor could then disappear with the child once again.

Careful consideration should be given to where and when the recovery of the child will take place. 
When possible, recovering the child in the presence of the abducting parent should be avoided. A child who is recovered at the same time and place his or her parent is arrested can make the child feel angry and responsible. Perhaps the child could be recovered at school, at the day care center, or while with a babysitter or friend. The parent should be questioned or arrested when the child is not nearby.

Throughout the recovery process, the utmost concern should be given to the safety of the child. It is recommended that a child receive a medical exam as soon as possible. This could confirm or disprove allegations which are likely to be brought up by one of the parents later.

A trained facilitator should assist with the family and child's reunion. The facilitator should speak with the parent, family and the child separately to find out what beliefs and expectations each possesses. He or she can help each party to understand what the other is experiencing and provide suggestions on how to best interact when together. Personal items, such as favorite toys, blankets, home videos and pictures could be shared with the child by the recovering parent. Reunification should occur in a child friendly and safe location. The reunification of children with their families is a very private matter and an emotional experience. Controlling outsiders, such as the media, extended family and friends, is important. The child should not be overwhelmed during this critical bridge building time.

The child may not want to have anything to do with the recovering parent or family. He or she may have been led to believe the recovering parent is a monster or dead. Many abducted children have been taught to hate this parent. For the recovering parent and family this could be very upsetting. They have lived and hoped for this reunion day. Their lives have been placed on hold. They may have the fantasy where they will all embrace and live happily ever after. The parent and family know and understand the pain they have endured, and think the child might understand and have empathy. However, the child may be very confused, angry and afraid.

After the reunification, it is best for the family to try and establish normalcy. Children will test boundaries. These boundaries should be established in a loving and caring manner which help children develop a sense of security. Most of these children were taken by people who have difficulty with conventional boundaries and rules. Recovering parents will probably wish to shower their children with gifts and fun times, but boundaries and limits should be set early on. If they are not, these children could become difficult and may grow uncontrollable. Also, the other children in the household, already resentful of the attention and gifts the recovered child is receiving, could feel there are double standards and they may start acting out.

It is common to see regression in recovered children. They might go back to thumb sucking, bed wetting and baby-talk. These kids may have some very special needs. Some have not attended school and will have difficulty being placed in the proper classroom or educational settings. Some were not allowed to play with other children and lack social and developmental skills.

There will be triggers and strong emotions felt by these children. They may feel disloyal to the abducting parent, or resentful that their recovering parent did not come and get them right away. This type of victimization often leaves children with a strong inability to trust which they may incorporate in relationships throughout their lives. As they grow and want to "fit in" with their peers, many children feel shame. They do not want others to know they were abducted children. They do not want to be looked at or made to feel different.

The reunification of abducted children with their families is an important area of concern. Families need help and professionals need training on howto facilitate effective recoveries and reunifications.

While we have looked at the devastating effects this crime has on children and families, the resilience and strength of the human spirit should not be underestimated. With the proper help, understanding, and services that they desperately need, families and children can heal and become whole again.
Finkelhor, D., Hotaling G.T., and Sedlak, A. (1990). Missing Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children in American: First Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Hatcher, C., Barton, C., and Brooks, L. (1992). Families of Missing Children. Final Report to Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. San Francisco, CA: Center for the Study of Trauma, University of California–San Francisco.

Abducted Missing Children Same As Adopted Child Impacts


Abducted Missing Children Same As Adopted Child Impacts

With the news Jan 10 2017 of Kamiyah Mobley kidnapped in infancy found 18 years later, the center for missing children's website explains the same psychological impacts on biological mothers and their lost adopted children. The adult adoptee that seeks out their biological parents has the same impact as abducted children and their mothers. Read Below:
Psychological Impact of Abduction

One of the primary obstacles to the recovery of parentally abducted children is the general public’s perception that children are not at risk of harm if they are in the physical custody of a parent, even if the parent is an abductor. Even many law enforcement personnel view parental abduction as “civil in nature” and a private family matter that is best handled outside the realm of the criminal justice system (Girdner, 1994a).
This is a serious misperception. The experience of abduction can be emotionally traumatic to both children and left-behind parents. It is particularly damaging in cases in which force is used to carry out the abduction, the child is concealed, or the child is held for a long period of time. According to the NISMART data, parents reported that abductors used force in 14 percent of parental abductions and coercive threats or demands in 17 percent (Finkelhor, Hotaling, and Sedlak, 1990). Nationally, force was used in about 50,000 cases, and more than 60,000 cases involved threats or demands (Finkelhor, Hotaling, and Sedlak, 1990).
Left-Behind Parents
Greif and Hegar (1991) surveyed left-behind parents registered with a missing child organization and learned that left-behind parents experienced feelings of loss, rage, and impaired sleep. Half of these parents reported feelings of loneliness, fear, loss of appetite, or severe depression. Of this group, slightly more than 50 percent sought professional help to cope with the situation. One-fourth of the parents were treated for depression, and one-fourth were treated for anxiety and other problems.
Forehand et al. (1989) also found that parents of abducted children reported that their level of psychological disturbance was high during the period the child was missing and somewhat reduced once the child had been recovered. However, the stress and trauma of the experience did not necessarily end when the child was recovered. Many parents in this study related that their psychological distress was higher after reunification with their child than it had been prior to the abduction, possibly because of concerns about a reabduction and/or stress associated with the reunification. In a different study, Hatcher, Barton, and Brooks (1993) found that nearly three-fourths (73.1 percent) of the left-behind parents surveyed related having concerns that their child would be reabducted.3
Moreover, the abduction of a child can have a devastating effect upon the economic well-being of the left-behind parent, which in turn can increase the parent’s level of anxiety. Janvier, McCormick, and Donaldson (1990) found that the mean cost of searching for an abducted child was more than $8,000 in domestic cases and more than $27,000 in international cases. A study of international abductions found that parents spent an average of $33,500 to search for and try to recover an abducted child. More than half of parents across all income brackets reported spending as much as or more than their annual salaries in attempting to recover their children (Chiancone and Girdner, 2000).
Abducted Children
Agopian (1984) interviewed a small sample of five children to determine the impact of family abduction on their lives. He found that the degree of trauma they experienced was related to the age of the child at the time of the abduction, the treatment of the child by the abducting parent, the abduction’s duration, the child’s lifestyle during the abduction, and the support and therapy received by the child after recovery.
Few studies definitively examine how long abducted children are typically denied access to the left-behind parent. The NISMART study (Finkelhor, Hotaling, and Sedlak, 1990) found that four out of five abductions (including both broad-scope and policy-focal cases) lasted less than a week. Forehand et al. (1989) showed that in most of the 17 cases they reviewed, children had been gone between 3 and 7 months. The duration of abductions described in other literature ranges from several days (Schetky and Haller, 1983) to 3 years (Terr, 1983). Agopian’s (1984) research found that the length of separation from the left-behind parent greatly influenced the emotional impact on the abducted child. Generally, children held for shorter periods (less than a few weeks) did not give up the hope of being reunited with the other parent and, as a result, did not develop an intense loyalty to the abducting parent. These children were able to view the experience as a type of “adventure.”
Victims of long-term abductions, however, fared much worse. They were often deceived by the abducting parent and frequently moved to avoid being located. This nomadic, unstable lifestyle made it difficult for children to make friends and settle into school, if they attended at all. Over time, younger children could not easily remember the left-behind parent, which had serious repercussions when they were reunited. Older children felt angry and confused by the behavior of both parents—the abductor for keeping them away from the other parent and the left-behind parent for failing to rescue them.
Terr’s (1983) study reported on a sample of 18 children seen for psychiatric evaluations following recoveries from abductions (or after being threatened with abduction and/or unsuccessfully abducted). Nearly all the children (16 of 18) suffered emotionally from the experience. Their symptoms included grief and rage toward the left-behind parent, in addition to suffering from “mental indoctrination” perpetrated by the abducting parent. Likewise, another study of a sample of 104 parental abductions drawn from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) cases revealed that more than 50 percent of the recovered children experienced symptoms of emotional distress (including anxiety, eating problems, and nightmares) as a result of being abducted (Hatcher, Barton, and Brooks, 1992).
In addition, Senior, Gladstone, and Nurcombe (1982) reported that recovered children often suffered from uncontrollable crying and mood swings, loss of bladder/bowel control, eating and sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, and fearfulness. Other reports document abduction trauma such as difficulty trusting other people, withdrawal, poor peer relations, regression, thumbsucking, and clinging behavior (Schetky and Haller, 1983); a distrust of authority figures and relatives and a fear of personal attachments (Agopian, 1984); and nightmares, anger and resentment, guilt, and relationship problems in adulthood (Noble and Palmer, 1984).
In a longitudinal study, Greif (1998a, 1998b) recontacted victim parents who had been surveyed in an original study conducted in 1989–91 (Greif and Hegar, 1991) to learn how their children were faring years after reunification. Of the original 371 parents surveyed in 1989, 69 were recontacted for the 1993 survey (Hegar and Greif, 1993) and 39 for the 1995 survey. In the 1993 survey, most parents (86–97 percent) reported that their children were healthy and that their behavior and school performance were satisfactory or very satisfactory. Of these children, about 80 percent had received some mental health services. Likewise, the 1995 followup did not show significant changes in children’s behavior. Their scores did not indicate that they were less adjusted than a normative group. Although, overall, children appeared to be doing quite well, a closer look at the sample showed that “those children who were doing the most poorly had been missing longer, had been reunited with their families for a shorter period of time, had no contact with the abductor, and reportedly had a worse abduction experience.” (Greif, 1998a:54). This study’s findings, while limited because of the inability to recontact all subjects, indicate that the level of trauma and the long-term impact of an abduction vary, depending on the child and family’s individual experience and situation.
This conclusion appears to be echoed in the findings of a study based on NISMART data that examined the emotional trauma to children who are victims of parental abduction and found that abductions involving children age 5 and older and those that went on for longer periods were more likely to involve mental harm. In this study (Plass, Finkelhor, and Hotaling, 1996:126), the researchers indicated that the “emotional trauma of an episode seems related to factors associated with the disruption of the routine of the child(ren), with the presence of an increased level of conflict between adults, and with the general awareness of the child(ren) as to what is happening.”

Friday, January 13, 2017

Emotionally Numb and Emotionally Detatched Adoptees

Emotionally Numb and Emotionally Detatched Adoptees
Adopted children traumatized at birth, continually traumatized
by insensitive adoptive mothers become lost to ourselves, lost to others and emotionally dead inside. I feel nothing or I feel everything to the point of overwhelming emotional feelings that cripple my ability to function. There is no in-between emotional feelings for adoptees. No medium tolerable emotional response or feeling, as it is always extreme. Too little or too much emotional feelings or emotional stimulation reduces me to rubble and homeostasis can't be achieved. If I allow my tears to form, the ocean may pour out of my eyes if I am not on constant alert to this overwhelming feeling that will take my mind hostage and I may loose my grip on reality, so I stay watchful for any signs that may provoke an emotional over-reaction. I don't ever want to feel at the mercy of others ever again, where they are in control and I am not. I have lost it about a dozen times in my life and I hated myself for allowing myself to feel like a hostage to my over the top emotions. I'd rather be numb and in control as no body could ever understand what hell the adopted child lives, and they don't want to know anyhow. As knowing the adopted child's intimate horrific personal experiences would challenge a person's set norms and principles that make them comfortable in their world.    
 What is the relationship between emotional numbness and extreme emotional sensitivity?
As human beings, when we face danger, there are three responses: fight, flight and freeze. When faced with extreme situation such as childhood abuse, trauma or grief, it is natural for our body and psyche to go into ‘numbing mode’ as part of a freezing response. However, sometimes such protective reflex remains for much longer after the actual danger has passed and becomes a way of life. This is when a person becomes emotionally detached, and experiences life in a ‘dissociated’, or ‘depersonalised’ way.
At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive to think that emotional numbness can be a result of emotional intensity and sensitivity. Yet emotional numbing is often not a conscious choice; you may not even be aware of the pattern building up until it has become your ‘normal’ way of functioning. You may have developed emotional detachment as a protective shield because you have learned from an early experience that revealing the true extent of your intense adoptee feelings would lead to rejection, abandonment, or shame as adopted children. It maybe from your authority figures or society pressure that you have learned in order to survive it is better to hide your intensity and sensitivity. Although the pattern started off as a way of protecting you from others, it can eventually morph into you hiding from yourself or denying your own needs altogether. This is especially likely when someone has experienced repeated wounding, emotional deprivation, or neglect as adoptee's live it.
Emotional detachment is experienced differently by different people: Adoptees may feel a lingering sense of doom, boredom and emptiness; Adoptees may feel that you are not able to show or feel any emotions, to respond to events with joy or sadness as others would, or to connect with others in a deep and meaningful way. Many adoptees feel that they are holding back, watching life goes by without being ‘in it’. Although the pains of life seemed to have been dampened, you also do not feel the full extent of positive emotions such as love, joy or any connections to others.
The emotional numbing is a protective shield that seems effective at first - we feel that the pain has temporarily gone way, that you can ‘get on with life’, perhaps you even feel empowered and confident. You may feel that you can function normally - get up in the morning, get dressed, exist in the world… Although things are fine on the ‘productivity front’, Adoptees feel overcome by a wave of sadness or loneliness and despair.
The problem with over-using the emotional shield is that when the emotions are not digested, they remain suppressed and accumulate in your system: You may feel particularly sensitive or irritable, especially when the tension, anxiety and frustration reach the extreme effect on the adopted child. Then certain triggers, benign and minor situations, catch the adoptee off guard and cause you to ‘blow up’. Suddenly, you are being knocked back into the reality of having to feel real feelings. Yet because you have been ‘cut off’ from when these feelings build up, these outbursts can seem like they have no connection to the present. 
When the adoptee is cut off from parts of yourself, you act to maintain the adopted child role that is not congruent with your true self. Since the underlying needs of adopted child's comfort and safety are not met, we resort to self-soothing by eating, gambling drinking, drugs, spending, and engaging in impulsive behaviors without knowing why and some adoptees block out the cause and effect memories of what originally occurred.
Adoptees refuse to remember much of their adopted childhood, and feel confused when they look at old pictures of themselves. At the extreme of adoptee numbing, remaining cut off can lead to serious consequences of mental health. Over reactions to others can't be taken back, and the path of destruction from the emotional numb adoptee is full of broken relationships and decisions we regret.
Psychologists such as Dr. Jeffrey Young call this as a ‘detached protector’ mode, and sums up its presentation as the following: 
"Signs and symptoms of the detached protector mode include depersonalisation, emptiness, boredom, substance abuse, over-consumption, self-mutilation, psychosomatic complaints, “blankness,” may adopt a cynical, aloof or pessimistic stance to avoid investing in people or activities.’’
According to Dr. Young, most people with BPD spend majority of their time, including during therapy, in the ‘detached protector mode’. This is not surprising because as the therapy process stirs feelings up, your subconscious mind receive the signal of ‘threat’, and feel the need to put up this protective shield even more. Therapy produces hard emotional work, not the immediate feeling of good, as the reprocessing of ignored feelings takes years to recover in processing numb emotions that we refused to experience.  
In fact, it is entirely natural for you to want to hold onto this protective shield in the beginning, especially before a level of trust is built between you and your therapist. However, it is important that your therapist is aware of this pattern and is able to have an open and non-judgmental conversation with you. Given that therapy is an invitation for your ‘true self’ to be seen, your progress may remain stagnated if you remain ‘shielded’ for the whole time you are in therapy. 
Many people who operates in a shielded mode has a fear of being ‘dropped in the deep end’, they fear the uncertainty of not knowing what it would be like to start feeling things; they are worried that they will go into a depressed/crisis state, or that they will be hurt by others again. In this case, a skilled therapist would work with you to build the emotional skills and resilience up, so that you feel safe enough to tap your toe into the feeling field. Your therapist might work with you on strategies such as learning to label emotions, learning to self-regulate and self-care, experimenting with feelings in ‘small doses’, and expressing them in a safe context. Once you feel that you have some degree of capacity, the ‘thawing’ process often naturally follow. At that point, you would have re-opened the door to experience life’s joy, abundance and aliveness - things that a hidden part of you have long been yearning for, not before the pain and agony that we refused to acknowledge in adopted childhood.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Adopted Infant's Chronic Distress & The Role of HPA Axis


The Adopted Infant's Chronic Distress & Role of HPA Axis
The newborn infant that is forcefully separated from his biological mother, exists in a state of chronic distress. This distress is a direct consequence that constitutes a traumatic event. The infant's brain and body are dysregulated by the birth and removal in this infant's partially developed state. Evolutionary theory states that   at the time of birth, the infant is nine to twelve months premature,  as the infant exists outside of the womb is dependent on the biological mother's maternal drive for continued homeostasis outside of the womb.
The extracted infant processed for adoption, exists in a state of stress induced despair, that the chronic stress from separation creates a new state of homeostasis based in distress, hypervigilant reaction to experienced birth & separation trauma that causes the HPA-Axis to establish homeostasis in these conditions as the infant's normal functioning. Due to the lack of the infant's pre-traumatic experience, the infant's new normal functioning is established is under the conditions of stress and anxiety. The new distressing environment that causes the release high levels of cortisol and stress hormones that flood the bloodstream and arrest normal infant brain growth and function. The brain grows in a dysfunctional compensationary manner that lacking normal structure, connective neurons and building cellular receptors.
The amigdala and hippocampus growth is irregular, distorted and arrested when subjected to incompassionate caregivers that are indifferent to the nonbiological, adopted infant.      

 The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA axis or HTPA axis) is a complex set of direct influences and feedback interactions among three endocrine glands: thehypothalamus, the pituatary gland (a pea-shaped structure located below the thalamus), and the adrenal (also called "suprarenal") glands (small, conical organs on top of the kidneys).


Release of CRH from the hypothalamus is influenced by stress physical activity, illness, by blood levels of cortisol and by the sleep/wake cycle (cardiac rythym). In healthy individuals, cortisol rises rapidly after wakening, reaching a peak within 30–45 minutes. It then gradually falls over the day, rising again in late afternoon. Cortisol levels then fall in late evening, reaching a trough during the middle of the night. This corresponds to the rest-activity cycle of the organism.
The HPA axis has a central role in regulating many homeostatic systems in the body, including the metabolic system, cardiovascular system, immune system, reproductive system and central nervous system. The HPA axis integrates physical and psychosocial influences in order to allow an organism to adapt effectively to its environment, use resources, and optimize survival.
Anatomical connections between brain areas such as the amigdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and hypothalamus facilitate activation of the HPA axis. Sensory information arriving at the lateral aspect of the amygdala is processed and conveyed to the central nucleus, which projects to several parts of the brain involved in responses to fear. At the hypothalamus, fear-signaling impulses activate both the sympathetic nervous system and the modulating systems of the HPA axis.
Increased production of cortisol during stress results in an increased availability of glucose in order to facilitate fighting or fleeing. As well as directly increasing glucose availability, cortisol also suppresses the highly demanding metabolic processes of the immune system, resulting in further availability of glucose.
Glucocorticoids have many important functions, including modulation of stress reactions, but in excess they can be damaging. Atrophy of the hippocampus in humans and animals exposed to severe stress is believed to be caused by prolonged exposure to high concentrations of glucocorticoids. Deficiencies of the hippocampus may reduce the memory resources available to help a body formulate appropriate reactions to stress.
Studies on people show that the HPA axis is activated in different ways during chronic stress depending on the type of stressor, the person's response to the stressor and other factors. Stressors that are uncontrollable, threaten physical integrity, or involve trauma tend to have a high, flat diurnal profile of cortisol release (with lower-than-normal levels of cortisol in the morning and higher-than-normal levels in the evening) resulting in a high overall level of daily cortisol release. On the other hand, controllable stressors tend to produce higher-than-normal morning cortisol. Stress hormone release tends to decline gradually after a stressor occurs. In PTSD there appears to be lower-than-normal cortisol release, and it is thought that a blunted hormonal response to stress may predispose a person to develop PTSD.
In humans, prolonged maternal stress during gestation is associated with mild impairment of intellectual activity and language development in their children, and with behaviour disorders, self-reported maternal stress is associated with a higher irritability, emotional and attentional problems.
There is growing evidence that prenatal stress can affect HPA regulation in humans. Children who were stressed prenatally may show altered cortisol rhythms. For example, several studies have found an association between maternal depression during pregnancy and childhood cortisol levels. Prenatal stress has also been implicated in a tendency toward depression and short attention span in childhood.There is no clear indication that HPA dysregulation caused by prenatal stress can alter adult behavior.
The role of early life stress in programming the HPA Axis has been well-studied in animal models. Exposure to mild or moderate stressors early in life has been shown to enhance HPA regulation and promote a lifelong resilience to stress. In contrast, early-life exposure to extreme or prolonged stress can induce a hyper-reactive HPA Axis and may contribute to lifelong vulnerability to stress. In one widely replicated experiment, rats subjected to the moderate stress of frequent human handling during the first two weeks of life had reduced hormonal and behavioral HPA-mediated stress responses as adults, whereas rats subjected to the extreme stress of prolonged periods of maternal separation showed heightened physiological and behavioral stress responses as adults.
Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain these findings in rat models of early-life stress exposure. There may be a critical period during development during which the level of stress hormones in the bloodstream contribute to the permanent calibration of the HPA Axis. One experiment has shown that, even in the absence of any environmental stressors, early-life exposure to moderate levels of corticosterone was associated with stress resilience in adult rats, whereas exposure to high doses was associated with stress vulnerability.
Another possibility is that the effects of early-life stress on HPA functioning are mediated by maternal care. Frequent human handling of the rat pups may cause their mother to exhibit more nurturant behavior, such as licking and grooming. Nurturant maternal care, in turn, may enhance HPA functioning in at least two ways. First, maternal care is crucial in maintaining the normal stress hypo responsive period (SHRP), which in rodents, is the first two weeks of life during which the HPA axis is generally non-reactive to stress. Maintenance of the SHRP period may be critical for HPA development, and the extreme stress of maternal separation, which disrupts the SHRP, may lead to permanent HPA dysregulation. Another way that maternal care might influence HPA regulation is by causing epigentic changes in the offspring. For example, increased maternal licking and grooming has been shown to alter expression of the glutocorticoid receptor gene implicated in adaptive stress response. At least one human study has identified maternal neural activity patterns in response to video stimuli of mother-infant separation as being associated with decreased glucocorticoid receptor gene methylation in the context of post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from early life stress. Yet clearly, more research is needed to determine if the results seen in cross-generational animal models can be extended to humans.
Though animal models allow for more control of experimental manipulation, the effects of early life stress on HPA axis function in humans has also been studied. One population that is often studied in this type of research is adult victims of childhood abuse. Adult victims of childhood abuse have exhibited increased ACTH concentrations in response to a psychosocial stress task compared to healthy controls and subjects with depression but not childhood abuse. In one study, adult victims of childhood abuse that are not depressed show increased ACTH response to both exogenous CRF and normal cortisol release. Adult victims of childhood abuse that are depressed show a blunted ACTH response to exoegenous CRH. A blunted ACTH response is common in depression, so the authors of this work posit that this pattern is likely to be due to the participant's depression and not their exposure to early life stress.
Heim and colleagues have proposed that early life stress, such as childhood abuse, can induce a sensitization of the HPA axis, resulting in particular heightened neuronal activity in response to stress-induced CRF release. With repeated exposure to stress, the sensitized HPA axis may continue to hypersecrete CRF from the hypothalamus. Over time, CRF receptors in the anterior pituitary will become down-regulated, producing depression and anxiety symptoms.This research in human subjects is consistent with the animal literature discussed above.
The HPA Axis was present in the earliest vertebrate species, and has remained highly conserved by strong positive selection due to its critical adaptive roles. The programming of the HPA axis is strongly influenced by the perinatal and early juvenile environment, or “early-life environment.” Maternal stress and differential degrees of caregiving may constitute early life adversity, which has been shown to profoundly influence, if not permanently alter, the offspring's stress and emotional regulating systems. Widely studied in animal models (e.g. licking and grooming/LG in rat pups), the consistency of maternal care has been shown to have a powerful influence on the offspring's neurobiology, physiology, and behavior. Whereas maternal care improves cardiac response, sleep/wake rhythm, and growth hormone secretion in the neonate, it also suppresses HPA axis activity. In this manner, maternal care negatively regulates stress response in the neonate, thereby shaping his/her susceptibility to stress in later life. These programming effects are not deterministic, as the environment in which the individual develops can either match or mismatch with the former's “programmed” and genetically predisposed HPA axis reactivity. Although the primary mediators of the HPA axis are known, the exact mechanism by which its programming can be modulated during early life remains to be elucidated. Furthermore, evolutionary biologists contest the exact adaptive value of such programming, i.e. whether heightened HPA axis reactivity may confer greater evolutionary fitness.
Various hypotheses have been proposed, in attempts to explain why early life adversity can produce outcomes ranging from extreme vulnerability to resilience, in the face of later stress. Glucocorticoids produced by the HPA axis have been proposed to confer either a protective or harmful role, depending on an individual's genetic predispositions, programming effects of early-life environment, and match or mismatch with one's postnatal environment. The predictive adaptation hypothesis (1), the three-hit concept of vulnerability and resilience (2) and the maternal mediation hypothesis (3) attempt to elucidate how early life adversity can differentially predict vulnerability or resilience in the face of significant stress in later life. These hypotheses are not mutually exclusive but rather are highly interrelated and unique to the individual.
(1) The predictive adaptation hypothesis: this hypothesis is in direct contrast with the diathesis stress model, which posits that the accumulation of stressors across a lifespan can enhance the development of psychopathology once a threshold is crossed. Predictive adaptation asserts that early life experience induces epigenetic change; these changes predict or “set the stage” for adaptive responses that will be required in his/her environment. Thus, if a developing child (i.e., fetus to neonate) is exposed to ongoing maternal stress and low levels of maternal care (i.e., early life adversity), this will program his/her HPA axis to be more reactive to stress. This programming will have predicted, and potentially be adaptive in a highly stressful, precarious environment during childhood and later life. The predictability of these epigenetic changes is not definitive, however – depending primarily on the degree to which the individual's genetic and epigenetically modulated phenotype “matches” or “mismatches” with his/her environment (See: Hypothesis (2)).
(2) Three-Hit Concept of vulnerability and resilience: this hypothesis states that within a specific life context, vulnerability may be enhanced with chronic failure to cope with ongoing adversity. It fundamentally seeks to explicate why, under seemingly indistinguishable circumstances, one individual may cope resiliently with stress, whereas another may not only cope poorly, but consequently develop a stress-related mental illness. The three “hits” – chronological and synergistic – are as follows: genetic predisposition (which predispose higher/lower HPA axis reactivity), early-life environment (perinatal – i.e. maternal stress, and postnatal – i.e. maternal care), and later-life environment (which determines match/mismatch, as well as a window for neuroplastic changes in early programming). (Figure 1)6 The concept of match/mismatch is central to this evolutionary hypothesis. In this context, it elucidates why early life programming in the perinatal and postnatal period may have been evolutionarily selected for. Specifically, by instating specific patterns of HPA axis activation, the individual may be more well equipped to cope with adversity in a high-stress environment. Conversely, if an individual is exposed to significant early life adversity, heightened HPA axis reactivity may “mismatch” him/her in an environment characterized by low stress. The latter scenario may represent maladaptation due to early programming, genetic predisposition, and mismatch. This mismatch may then predict negative developmental outcomes such as psychopathologies in later life.
Ultimately, the conservation of the HPA axis has underscored its critical adaptive roles in vertebrates, so, too, various invertebrate species over time. The HPA Axis plays a clear role in the production of corticosteroids, which govern many facets of brain development and responses to ongoing environmental stress. With these findings, animal model research has served to identify what these roles are – with regards to animal development and evolutionary adaptation. In more precarious, primitive times, a heightened HPA axis may have served to protect organisms from predators and extreme environmental conditions, such as weather and natural disasters, by encouraging migration (i.e. fleeing), the mobilization of energy, learning (in the face of novel, dangerous stimuli) as well as increased appetite for biochemical energy storage. In contemporary society, the endurance of the HPA axis and early life programming will have important implications for counseling expecting and new mothers, as well as individuals who may have experienced significant early life adversity