What if…childhood trauma and adult health issues are connected?

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) is a research study of over 17,000 people conducted in the US by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participants were recruited between 1995 and 1997 and have been followed to see what happened to their health over the years since then.

This study has come up frequently in recent health seminars because it demonstrates an association of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) with health and social problems in adulthood.

Here is Dr. Vincent Felitti, one of the principal investigators on this study, to tell you more about how childhood trauma can lead to serious illness later in life.

Dr. Gabor Maté, medical doctor and author of several books, has come to understand and appreciate the impact of early experiences on adult behaviour and health. He has worked primarily with people who have experienced severe trauma. His view is that the event is not the trauma. The trauma is our disconnection from ourselves as a result of that event. You may want to go back to my previous post Responsible…but not to blame.

We don’t magically get over the effects of major childhood traumas as we grow older. The ACE study shows that traumatic events can create chronic major unrelieved stress that affects us physically. This is due to the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals as well as suppression of the immune system. These two conditions are at the root of many chronic diseases, as I discussed in this blog.

What to do?

As Dr. Felitti points out, we must ask questions about prevention. How do we become more conscious in our parenting and grand-parenting? What do we need to do so these things don’t happen to our children any more?

There are also important questions to be asked by we adults on our own behalf. Most of us are carrying around unresolved traumas that are making us sick or holding us back in various other ways. That was my experience, and I’m not exceptional in this. Where I’m different is in my motivation to uncover and release the effects of troubling events and limiting beliefs.

Questions you might ask yourself to get the ball rolling:

  • Are there things going on in my life now that don’t make sense to me?
  • Am I willing to explore this?
  • If I’m not, what does that tell me?

This is important. It’s not as scary as it sounds to put these things to rest and live more fully. I’ll be posting about various modalities in the future, but in the meantime feel free to ask me any questions that arise.

And if you’re curious about the questionnaire used in the study, you’ll find it at the NPR Science Desk along with an article that offers perspective on its application.

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