Community/Relationship Trauma and Stress
Science provides ample evidence of the inextricably connected and dynamic relationship between the person and his/her environment. In the context of “Culturecology” as well as can be demonstrated in the collectivist nature of African societies, there are no “single” human beings. We are all connected. Human beings are social creatures and the Brain is a social organ. As such, the cortex is shaped postnatal via social interaction. Therefore the brain can be changed, regulated and can be aided in healing in the context of relationships.
Converging lines of evidence in the fields of social psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, social neuroscience and epigenetics illustrate the mechanism of action of relationships on resiliency and health. Neural integration is key to mental and physical health in that every form of regulation the brain is responsible for is dependent on well integrated, synchronous fibers. Rhythm is essential in life as it is essential to the inner-workings of healthy brains.
Research indicates that even lower animals evidence the impact of secure attachment on the brain. Attachment (the close emotional bond between caregiver and child) has been shown to trigger neuronal growth as well as neural growth hormones as well as to lower cortisol levels and inhibit catabolic processes. Too many of our young have suffered challenges to their actual brain health due to having this important factor severed due to the vagaries of chronic trauma and stress.
A Harvard study found that in subjects who had suffered severe neglect and abuse, integrated fibers in crucial brain structures (Corpus Collosum, Hippocampus, Pre-frontal Cortex) were stunted.
It is no wonder, too many of our youth find it difficult to focus on and attend to classroom work. Young and old alike, who are exposed to chronic stress and trauma find it difficult to concentrate as they struggle with memory related challenges. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for decision-making, planning and impulse control among other functions. Our autonomic nervous system is particularly sensitive to chronic stress. This very important system, largely controlled within the brain stem, automatically triggers our fight-or-flight and rest-or-digest response. When compromised, it’s ability to inhibit the reactionary fear-based response and trigger the calming return to balance is stunted leading to dangerous levels of stress hormones in our blood stream and brain. The experience of trauma can have devastating impact on these important brain-related functions and with genetic repercussions.