How was Your Childhood?

A recent article caught our eye. It looks at: How childhood adversity affects adult health.

Our Brighton-based Therapy Centre, Kernel Counselling and Psychotherapy, has a particular interest in working with people affected by chronic health conditions such as M.E, M.S, Epilepsy, Diabetes and so on.

Conditions such as M.E were once considered controversial and even ‘all in the mind,’ something largely disputed by sufferers. These days M.E (or ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’) is recognised and registered as a neurological disorder causing extreme fatigue, debilitating pain and a raft of associated symptoms including temperature disfunction, sleep disruption, low-grade fever, ear-ache and neuralgia, ‘brain fog’ and concentration problems. Often those diagnosed with the disorder (which, as a cluster of symptoms, manifests differently for everyone) can feel terribly under-supported and misunderstood.

Such conditions may now be recognised, but the question of what causes them if still regularly debated. It’s early days, but as this article outlines, contemporary Neuroscientists are exploring the possibility that negative childhood experiences (such as bullying, divorce, abuse and neglect and trauma, such as surgery, sexual abuse, bereavement and so on) may impact on our bio-chemical development to such a degree that we effectively ‘store up’ immune and other systemic and organic problems throughout our lives, which only become evident in adulthood.

Therapists commonly see clients for whom health in adulthood has become a major issue, and often these clients relay childhood conditions that were far from optimal involving unsafe environments, inadequate parenting and, often, emotional or physical neglect. The sense that experiences we cannot process as a kid go ‘somewhere’ – back into our cells and feelings and senses? This surely affects our resilience as well as emotionality and may result in not just mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, once older, but physical ones too. As a result we may be seeing IBS, Fatigue Disorder, Auto-Immune disease and other ‘medical’ issues in a whole new, holistic, context.

Jess at Kernel Counselling (jess@kernelcounselling.co.uk) is about to undertake a specialist study looking at this relationship, and will update us on her findings.

Watch this space.

Ciaran O'Connor

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