(CNN) — Psychological trauma may leave a visible trace in a child’s brain, scientists say.

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that children with symptoms of post-traumatic stress had poor function of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that stores and retrieves memories.

This is the first study to use functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to look at the function of the hippocampus in youth with symptoms of post-traumatic stress, researchers said. The findings are in line with what has been previously found in adults.

The study was led by Dr. Victor Carrion, and the senior author was Dr. Allan Reiss, both at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that children and adults develop in response to a traumatic event. Intrusive memories, increased anxiety and emotional arousal are some of the symptoms, and typically they begin within three months of a traumatic event, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Of youths who have experienced a traumatic event, 3 percent to 15 percent of girls and 1 percent to 6 percent of boys could get a PTSD diagnosis, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

By contrast, an estimated 6.8 percent of the adult American population has had PTSD at some point, the department said.

The condition looks slightly different depending on age — young children may display “post-traumatic play” in which they repeat themes of the trauma, whereas adolescents may incorporate aspects of the trauma into their lives, carrying a weapon for instance. Also, adolescents are more likely than younger children or adults to exhibit impulsive and aggressive behaviors, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Although the study shows only an association — not a cause-and-effect relationship — between this brain damage and post-traumatic stress, the study authors believe the abnormal hippocampus findings are the consequence of post-traumatic stress, not a risk factor for it, said co-author Brian Haas.

That explanation makes sense, given what is known about post-trauma, said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent and a neurosurgeon. He was not involved in the study. One of the reflexes that can come after a traumatic event is forgetting it, meaning perhaps “the hippocampus shrinks to fade away memories,” he said.

“The flip side of it is that you have trouble with memory overall,” he said. “You wish you could just forget the event.”

Animal studies have shown that brain damage in mice occurs after a trauma has been induced, Haas said.

Gupta said the study is important as researchers try to pinpoint what happens in the brain anatomically when a person has a trauma-related disorder.

The study looked at 27 people ages 10 to 17, which is a reasonable sample size for an imaging study of how the brain functions, said Lisa Shin, associate professor of psychology at Tufts University, who was not involved in the study. Participants were divided into 16 young people who had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and 11 normal youths.

Scientists scanned the participants’ brains while they completed a verbal memory test. They read a list of words, then looked at a similar set with additional words and had to remember which words were on the original list.

Participants with PTSD symptoms did worse on the recall portion and showed less activity in the hippocampus during that time than the control group members.

The young people whose hippocampus functioning was the worst were more likely to experience avoidance and numbing symptoms of PTSD — having difficulty remembering the trauma, feeling isolated and not displaying emotion.

Previous research had found that adults with PTSD tended to have a smaller hippocampus volume.

Measuring neural functioning in the brain can indicate the extent of symptoms that a person is experiencing after a PTSD diagnosis, and reflect the effectiveness of therapy, Haas said. In other words, if the hippocampus is functioning better, that may mean the treatment is working.

If there is enough evidence that the hippocampus is involved in PTSD, a treatment could, in theory, be targeted to it, Shin said. There is some indication that treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, is associated with memory improvement and increased volume of the hippocampus in adults with PTSD.

Shin and colleagues are working on a twin study to explore whether brain abnormalities in people with PTSD were pre-existing risk factors or the result of PTSD.


Half Cracked


Half Cracked:

“Half Cracked
Written by Lady Snafu
time stands still-
transcending her totality
each disconnected thought-
weaves itself into perfection
golden rays frozen lifeless-
catch falling moonbeams
voices call from the darkness-
painting half truths of dead lies
memories silenced-
tears choked by fear
feed on the mere existence-
of what lies beneath
reflections in the mirror-
facets of broken dreams
stare back-
half cracked


kinda depressed = depressing quotes +pics | revenge of the garden gnomes on Xanga

kinnda depressed = depressing quotes +pics | revengeofthegardengnomes on Xanga: “‘People always leave’
My whole life, I’ve followed this quote
Believing every single word of it to be the only truth
I’ve watched as every single person walked out of my life
As if I’m just a pit stop along their way
But then I look around
I see children giving their parents 80th birthday parties
I see friends who have been inseparable since birth
I see couples celebrating their 40th anniversary together
These people have known each other for decades
And are still here
And I realise, maybe I was wrong
Maybe people don’t always leave
Maybe… people just leave me”

>Friendship Poems, Poems about Friendship, Inspirational cute poetry, poem

>Friendship Poems, Poems about Friendship, Inspirational cute poetry, poem: “Special Friend Poems

‘Portrait of a Friend’

I can’t give solutions to all of life’s problems, doubts,
or fears. But I can listen to you, and together we will
search for answers.

I can’t change your past with all it’s heartache and pain,
nor the future with its untold stories.
But I can be there now when you need me to care.

I can’t keep your feet from stumbling.
I can only offer my hand that you may grasp it and not fall.

Your joys, triumphs, successes, and happiness are not mine;
Yet I can share in your laughter.

Your decisions in life are not mine to make, nor to judge;
I can only support you, encourage you,
and help you when you ask.

I can’t prevent you from falling away from friendship,
from your values, from me.
I can only pray for you, talk to you and wait for you.

I can’t give you boundaries which I have determined for you,
But I can give you the room to change, room to grow,
room to be yourself.

I can’t keep your heart from breaking and hurting,
But I can cry with you and help you pick up the pieces
and put them back in place.

I can’t tell you who you are.
I can only love you and be your friend.

Friendship Poems – Poems about Lost Friends – Losing A Piece Of My Soul by Jasmine Johnston


Friendship Poems – Poems about Lost Friends – Losing A Piece Of My Soul by Jasmine Johnston: “Losing A Piece Of My Soul
by Jasmine Johnston
I came to you the hour I was in pain
Looking for answers, I cried to you in vain.

I shared the many skeletons hiding in my heart,
I knew then you’d be my friend,
I knew it from the start.

Troubles ran like rivers, flowing through my life,
You picked the pieces up and help me through my strife.

When home wasn’t home to me no more,
You opened up your heart, and opened up the door.

We cried into night until the early morn.
We solaced each other’s pain and shared our many thorns.

As time flew, the air grew thick,
I saw our friendship fading, and my heart grew sick.

The day had arrived,
When it was time to say goodbye.

Now I sit alone,
reminiscing the past I’d blown.”


Therapy Metaphors


Therapy Metaphors

Therapy metaphors use a story or illustration to see alternative ways of looking at something. Every culture and religion uses these types of stories, analogies, parables to improve understanding, make a point more memorable, and help us make positive changes.

The example metaphors here are to help us see thoughts – their nature and role – in a different light. Just that alone, seeing thoughts differently, helps to create a space, a distance, between us and our thoughts, which helps us to stand back a little, see things a bit more objectively, and make wiser and more helpful decisions about how to react effectively.

Passengers on the Bus
You can be in the driving seat, whilst all the passengers (thoughts) are being critical, abusive, intrusive, distracting, and shouting directions, or sometimes just plain nonsense. You can allow those passengers to shout and chatter noisily, whilst keeping your attention focused on the road ahead, heading towards your goal or value.
(Hayes et al 1999)

Playground Bully

Our minds are like school playgrounds that are surrounded by secure high fences – they keep children in, and others out. Any bullies in that playground mean that the other children can’t escape for long. This particular bully uses verbal abuse, shouting, teasing, and threats. They’re all fenced in together, and ideally, all the children have just got to learn to accept and learn to be with each other. So neither can we escape our thoughts, we can’t stop them, but perhaps we can learn to live with them by seeing them differently. Along comes bully, and takes on 3 potential ‘victims’ who all react differently.

Victim 1 – believes the bully, distressed, reacts automatically (bully carries on)

Victim 2 – challenges the bully “hey I’m not stupid, I got 8 out of 10 in my spelling test this morning, you only got 4” (bully eventually gives up)

Victim 3 – looks at the bully (acknowledges the thought), then walks away and goes off to play football with his mates (dismisses the thought, then changes their focus of attention.
(Based on Hannan & Tolin 2005)

The River
Sometimes it feels like we’re being carried away downstream, struggling to stay afloat amongst all the mud, filth and debris. That muck and debris are thoughts, sensations, events, feelings, and that river is our distress as we drift helplessly downstream. But we can stand on the riverbank, watching as those thoughts, events, sensations, feelings go by. You might watch individual items as they pass – perhaps a thought floating on a leaf, a sensation as a log, event as on old bicycle. We can stand and watch.

The Beach Ball
We try to stop thoughts, but that’s impossible. It’s like trying to constantly hold an enormous inflatable beach ball under the water, but it keeps popping up in front of our faces. We can allow the ball to float around us, just letting it be. So rather than stop the thoughts, we can stop fighting them, and let them be, without reacting to them.
(Vivyan 2009)

Thought train
We can sit on the train, watching the scenery (thoughts, images, sensations) go by, or stand on the platform watching the thought train pass by – we don’t have to jump on it.

The Tunnel
When we get anxious driving through a tunnel, the best option is to keep going rather than try to escape. This feeling will pass – there is an end to this tunnel.

The Mountain
Whatever the weather, or whatever happens on the surface of the mountain – the mountain stands firm, strong, grounded, permanent. We can be like that mountain, observing thoughts, feelings, sensations, knowing inner stillness.

The Mind Monsters (Bad Wolf, Good Wolf)
We can think of unhelpful or distressing thoughts as the Mind Monsters. (The Native American Cherokees use a similar example of a “Bad Wolf, Good Wolf”). Being a monster, we can’t do much to stop or fight them – that just seems futile sometimes. When we do fight, it can help for a while, but those monsters may well just keep coming back. Like all monsters though, these Mind Monsters need food. If we can deprive them of food, then they’ll eventually go off seeking sustenance elsewhere. These monsters (or ‘Bad Wolf’) feed off our reactions – our believing those monsters, reacting to them, being upset by them, and acting accordingly and often automatically and unthinkingly. We can maintain and make worse our situations just by those reactions. Those vicious cycles of our reactions mean that the monsters just keep coming. If we can stop ‘feeding’ the monsters – they’ll get weaker and weaker and eventually move away. Others will come, but again we can choose not to feed them – by changing the way we think and react, and by paying more attention to the ‘Good Wolf’ in us.

Bad Wolf, Good Wolf: http://www.rainbowbody.net/Ongwhehonwhe/cherokee.htm

Google Earth & The Helicopter View
Sometimes it’s useful to see the bigger picture. When something is distressing us, we’re so close to it, involved with it, part of it – it’s really hard to stand back from what’s happening. It’s a bit like Google Earth – we see the close up view but everything else is hidden from us. “We can’t see the wood for the trees”. We can zoom out our perspective, and see the bigger picture. Some might describe it as like having a helicopter view – as the helicopter takes off, getting higher and higher, it sees a bigger picture, and is less involved with the detail at ground level.
(diagram: Vivyan 2009)

Foreground & Background – Monitors & Zoom lenses
When doing presentations using a laptop and projector, there’s an option of what to display on each monitor. The laptop screen is called Monitor 1, and the projector is Monitor 2. The graphic in Control Panel is shown as 2 large screens with large white numbers on them. Click on Monitor 1 and it enlarges and comes into the foreground, whilst Monitor 2 gets smaller and further away. Click on Monitor 2 and it zooms up towards you, getting bigger, whilst Monitor 1 goes away. It can be like that with our attention. Something grabs our attention – a sound, a sight, a feeling, a thought – and we zoom in, putting it the foreground of our attention, making it bigger and more intrusive. Everything else moves away into the background. We can choose what we put in the foreground – more helpful thoughts, our breath, imagery, a sensation, what we see, what we hear – so that other more unhelpful thoughts or sensations go more misty into the background. Like a zoom lens as it focuses in on something particular, the rest of the picture goes out of focus, loses clarity. We can zoom in and out, shifting our focus of attention.
(Vivyan 2009)

The Plane Crash
Not so long ago, a plane landed seemingly miraculously on the River Hudson. All 155 people came out alive. What did those 155 people feel as they stood on dry land and realised what they’d been through? Would they all have had the same reaction? Absolutely not! Many would have felt very distressed and upset – they nearly died, and they might decide never to fly again as it’s clearly too dangerous. Others might been overwhelming relief and happiness at having survived. Some might decide to live life to the full as a result of their experience, and be determined to fly even more. There could be 155 different reactions. Same event, different responses. It’s not the event which causes our emotions, it’s the meaning we give them. Those who interpreted the event as terrifyingly dangerous may feel very distressed, and be too anxious to fly again. Others will feel ecstatic as the meaning they gave the event was that they were incredibly lucky to survive.
(Ayres 2009)

The Traffic Accident
When there’s a traffic accident, police ask for witnesses to come forward and describe what happened. They like to have as many witness statements as possible so that they can build up enough evidence to give them a broader, more realistic version of events. In a traffic accident, there will be many different perspectives on what happened. The driver of one car will have one view, another driver or a passenger will have yet another view. Each onlooker who witnessed the accident will have a slightly different perspective, depending on where they were, how far they were, how good a view they had, what else was going on, how much danger they felt they were in, how the accident affected them, what the accident means to them.

It’s the same principle with everything – each situation, event, conversation, means something different to all those involved, and also to those not involved.
(Vivyan 2009)

The Quicksand
Used by Stephen Hayes to introduce clients to Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). When we’re stuck in quicksand, the immediate impulse is to struggle and fight to get out. But that’s exactly what you mustn’t do in quicksand – because as you put weight down on one part of your body (your foot), it goes deeper. So the more you struggle, the deeper you sink – and the more you struggle. Very much a no-win situation. With quicksand, there’s only one option for survival. Spread the weight of your body over a large surface area – lay down. It goes against all our instincts to lay down and really be with the quicksand, but that’s exactly what we have to do. So it is with distress. We struggle and fight against it, but we’ve perhaps never considered just letting it be, and being with the distressing thoughts and feelings, but if we did, we’d find that we get through it and survive – more effectively than if we’d fought and struggled.
(Hayes et al 1999)

The Poisoned Parrot
Imagine you’re given a parrot. This parrot is just a parrot – it doesn’t have any knowledge, wisdom or insight. It’s bird-brained after all. It recites things ‘parrot fashion’ – without any understanding or comprehension. It’s a parrot.

However, this particular parrot is a poisoned and poisonous parrot. It’s been specifically trained to be unhelpful to you, continuously commenting on you and your life, in a way that constantly puts you down, criticising you. For example, the bus gets stuck in a traffic jam, and you arrive at work 5 minutes late. The parrot sits there saying: “There you go again. Late. You just can’t manage to get there on time can you. So stupid. If you’d left the house and got the earlier bus you’d have arrived with loads of time to spare and the boss would be happy. But you? No way. Just can’t do it. Useless. Waste of space. Absolutely pathetic!”

How long would you put up with this abuse before throwing a towel over the cage, or getting rid of the parrot? We can often put up with the thoughts from this internal bully for far too long.

We can learn to use the antidote: notice that ‘parrot’ – and cover the cage. “There’s that parrot again – I don’t have to listen to it”, and go and do something else. Put your focus of attention elsewhere. Be persistent in your practice! Eventually this poisoned parrot will tire of the towel, tire of you not responding. You’ll notice it less and less. It might just give up its poison as your antidote overcomes it, or perhaps fly off to wherever poisoned parrots go.
(Vivyan 2009 – adapted from ‘The Malevolent Parrot” source unknown)

Tug of War with a Monster
Imagine you’re in a tug of war with some huge anxiety (depression etc) monster. You’ve got one end of the rope, and the monster has the other end. In between you, there’s a huge bottomless pit. You’re pulling backward as hard as you can, but the monster keeps on pulling you ever closer to the pit. What’s the best thing to do in that situation?

Pulling harder comes naturally, but the harder you pull, the harder the monster pulls. You’re stuck. What do you need to do?

Dropping the rope means the monster’s still there, but you’re no longer tied up in a struggle with it. Now you can do something more useful.

(Harris 2009)

Metaphors for the Mind (Act made simple, Harris 2009)

A master storyteller

The world’s greatest storyteller – it never stops! It’s never short of a story to tell, and it wants is for us to listen, whatever the story is. Like any great storyteller, it’ll say whatever it has to say to get our attention. Some stories are true: we can call these facts. Others are opinions, beliefs, ideas, attitudes, assumptions, judgements, predictions etc. Stories about how we see the world, what we want to do, what we think is right or wrong, fair or unfair, good or bad.

Just listen now, to the story your mind is telling you now.

Radio “doom and gloom”

Broadcasting a lot of gloom about the past, doom about the future, and dissatisfaction about the present.

A spoiled brat

Making all sorts of demands, and throwing tantrums if it doesn’t get its own way

A reason-giving machine

Churning out a never-ending list of reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t change

A word machine

Manufacturing a never-ending stream of words

A fascist dictator

Constantly ordering you about and telling you what you can and can’t do

A judgement factory

Spending all day long making judgements


Confusion regarding DBT and Trauma Recovery


DBT Is based a lot about living in the moment and to a big degree, I totally agree with it. We cannot change our past. We can only control what is happening in the present. We can only control our own actions and reactions to things that are happening in the moment.

Here is where I am confused or unsure of regarding DBT and what I believe. DBT can be very helpful for people who have experienced trauma and sometimes DBT is all a trauma survivor needs to use to be able to cope and eventually live a productive life worth living. My confusion is when someone such as myself has been through DBT and used DBT but still feels a void and a need to open the Pandora’s box that has been closed for so long and face the secrets inside themselves using the skills taught by DBT to cope with the uncomfortable feelings these secrets bring up while opening the box and letting them out and sharing them.

Yes DBT says we cannot do anything about the past but our past is what has shaped us to be who we are now and will shape our future unless we deal with it and change how we think about it. DBT Talks about Radical Acceptance which is still probably the hardest DBT skill I have tried to practice and cannot honestly say that I understand it to the extent I need to but I believe I have a better understanding of it than I did back in 1998 when I attended my first DBT Skills Training group when I was 19 years old.

I no longer attend DBT skills training groups but I still see a therapist who runs one and trained in DBT. And at time she has asked me about the skills as a reminder to her regarding what a skill or two is and how best to describe to someone to practice it since she only did the training back in 2007 after I had been seeing her for about a year already and had been in and out of DBT for almost 10 years back in Massachusetts and here in Virginia they were just starting to implement it into the central Virginia area not long before I came here. So I actually take pride in knowing that my knowledge of DBT is needed here even if I it is just here and there. I hope to someday to be able to start and run a peer led DBT group.

They just opened a Peer run recovery walk-in center close by through the local community mental health center but it is run by 2 peer specialist one of who are in one of my human services classes at the local community colleges and I have been building conversation and repertoire with her and hope to bring it up to her someday possibly in the fall.


The Thriver’s Toolbox: Thought Patterns


The Thriver’s Toolbox: Thought Patterns

For much of my life I expected things to go wrong. It seems like I was afraid of everything. These days, I feel much different. Well, you knew that from my “identity”–April Optimist. I had a reminder of how important it is that we learn to choose how we look at situations.

Right before I left for the east coast, I posted about frustration with my ex-husband and his relationship with my daughter. I refocused and asked myself what good could come out of it and spoke to both. Upshot? He made time for her and they talked about some very important things and she again has faith her father loves and accepts her. They have talked in ways they never did before.

While I was on my trip, my laptop screen went dead. My first reaction? How terrible! How unfair! I mean, the thing is only around 2 years old! Then I refocused. Realized how lucky I was. It happened while I was staying with friends who had an external monitor I could use. It turned out my laptop is still under warranty–for a couple more weeks. It turned out I’d gotten on site service so they came to my house–when I got back home–to fix the laptop. I wasn’t, at the moment, teaching an online class. In other words, I am very, very lucky.

The thing is, I could have put my energy and emotions into anger and frustration in both cases. I could have seen myself as cursed. Instead, good things came out of both situations. Definitely a reminder to let myself believe things can go well for me, things can turn out okay, I can be lucky.

It isn’t always easy to stop and ask myself that key question: What good is there or could there be about this situation? Sometimes that’s the last thing I feel like asking. But these two things were a powerful reminder of why that IS what I want to do.

Here’s hoping you’re able to see good–or the potential for good–in the challenges in your life, too. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

PS I am soooo way behind on things between the trip and needing to get my laptop fixed. I’m going to try to visit blogs in the next couple of days.