Michael Mendizza

Writer, Filmmaker

How Can So Many Deny So Much?


Parenting, Playful Advice

Over fifty years ago James W. Prescott, PhD, noted that an absence of what we call bonding is neglect or abuse. Researchers at the McLean Hospital identified four types of permanent brain abnormalities caused by early childhood abuse and neglect. These and other studies confirm what Prescott and associates discovered in the 1960’s and 1970’s; that lack of affectionate, intimate contact between mothers and infants during the most sensitive periods of brain growth may result in permanent brain abnormalities associated with juvenal and adult patterns of depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, aggression and violence.

Responded to my last post, Guns, Bonding and Addiction (https://ttfuture.org/blog/2/guns-bonding-and-addiction) Charles O. Bubar passed along a publication from the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress Published online December 26, 2011 Pediatrics Vol. 129 No. 1 January 1, 2012.

Advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genetics have converged on three compelling conclusions: (1) early experiences are built into our bodies; (2) significant adversity can produce physiologic disruptions or biological memories that undermine the development of the body’s stress response systems and affect the developing brain, cardiovascular system, immune system, and metabolic regulatory controls; and (3) these physiologic disruptions can persist far into adulthood and lead to lifelong impairments in both physical and mental health.

From My Interview with Gabor Mate, MD
Please view the entire interview… It is the best!

The most difficult audiences are the medical ones who deal with the manifestations of early childhood loss but they don’t know that that’s what they’re dealing with. They think they’re looking at diseases, symptoms, mental illness, dysfunctions, psychosis, behaviors that are categorized under one diagnosis or another. They don’t realize that the commonality is the early childhood loss in term. Present them with that information and you present it to them in detail with all the research perimeters being covered so that it’s not just impressionistic but actually research based. They sit there stunned. They don’t know what to do with it.

If that was my own failure to communicate I could say okay, well if somebody else presented it then maybe they would listen. No. Dr. Bruce Perry who’s the head of the Houston Child Trauma Academy, leading research on childhood trauma and brain development, he tells me the same thing. And Vincent J. Felitti, MD, (The California Institutes of Preventive Medicine) who’s the lead investigator of the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences has shown again the exponential impact of childhood loss.

The more losses that accrue the greater risk of addiction, the greater risk for cancer, greater risk of auto immune disease, mental illness, dysfunction, criminality, relationship problems, personality disorders, etc., etc. He tells me the same thing. When you’re presenting this information to a professional audience, who are intellectually trained, they sit there rapped in their intellectual armor and they literally are petrified by this material.

Earlier this year there was an article in Pediatrics which is the official publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics. There was also an article from Harvard Center on the Developing Child in February of this year, collating all the material, showing how early childhood stress or trauma results in adaptations that help the child survive in the short term but are the basis of pathology, physical illness, mental illness, later on. I presented this information to a room of pediatricians in a major Canadian city, big grand rounds at a hospital. I said look, in your own journal, here it is. I don’t have to sweat anymore to prove this you because I have been saying this for a long time. Here it is. They sat there in stunned silence.

It’s not that they argued with me. Had they argued and engaged, pointed where the data was flawed or where the logic was somehow inadequate, that would have been fine. No, they just didn’t know what to do with it.
What that tells me is that on the part of particularly professionals there’s a difficulty accepting this material because they haven’t dealt with their own stuff. So there is a barrier. The barrier is peoples own unresolved pain and trauma they haven’t dealt with.

There was an interesting study about climate change. It turns out that the more educated you are, if you’re denying climate change, the more entrenched you are and you’re in denial. It’s not that education leads to more openness, education leads to less openness.

Education often creates intellectual weapons that are used in the service of denial. I am saying is that there’s an emotional block. It’s not an experience or research block. We don’t need a stitch more research on what causes addiction. We don’t need one more bit of research on what causes violence, rape, psychopathic behavior, mental illness.

I know that sounds like a radical statement in a society which is so research oriented and we’re whole intellectual industries. Knowledge factories are based on having to gather more money for research to justify more jobs, to justify more papers, but I’m telling you, if we simply applied what we already know, if we simply do the lessons of what’s already been clearly shown, we would have a totally different world. Even the very need for more research is a factor of denial.

There was a study recently where they showed that childhood trauma maybe a predisposing factor in addictions. More study is required. And I’m thinking, what planet are these people living on? Are they not familiar with the hundreds of studies that are showing the relationship between trauma and addiction? Do they not know the average childhood experiential studies? Are they not aware of the data on brain development and trauma? What intellectual labyrinth have they been lost in for the last 50 years for them to come up with a study that says childhood trauma may be related to addictions, maybe, and that more study is required?

What I am saying is that the very need for research and intellectualization is actually a factor of denial. It represents denial. The block is that painful and therefore we dare not look at it in ourselves and therefore we don’t open to its existence in others and then we have to look for all kinds of other reasons.

If you deny the pain of early experience and early loss and early trauma, then the world becomes very complicated and justify all kinds of complicated explanations. Yet if we see that the child has certain needs and if you meet those needs, that child will be just fine and if you don’t he’ll have to adapt and those adaptations are the basis of dysfunction later on. That’s really simple. They call it simplistic. It’s not simplistic. It’s simple. The world is really very simple. We make it complicated because of our denial.

Please view the entire interview…

Michael Mendizza