Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs): over 25 years of research showing links between trauma in childhood – including sexual and physical abuse, neglect, and witnessing of violence – and risk for chronic physical disease that often don’t start until decades later in adulthood. Originated by Vincent Felitti, MD. The first reference is in the post on The Chronic Illness Model and here’s a detailed post about ACEs. There’s also a blog post about the role of parent child relationships and their impact on “invisible ACEs,” which also affect risk for chronic illness.
Attachment: This refers to the type of interactions and relationship between adults and their children in early life. Secure attachment is associated with a child learning that he or she can trust that there is nurturing support and reliability in the environment provided by interactions with parents, which gets internalized into a belief about one’s ability to manifest these things as an adult. Insecure attachment occurs when the relationship with adult caregivers is unreliable, unavailable or inconsistent. This can occur with overt trauma such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse as well as neglect. It can occur with the loss of a parent through divorce or death (see a post on Chronic Illness and Adverse Childhood Experiences or “ACEs”). And it also occurs with more subtle styles of parenting where it is not possible for a child to consistently rely on nurturing support or the availability of support to express and work through difficult emotions with adult caregivers (See a post on “Chronic Illness and Invisible ACEs“).
Bonding: The relationship between a parent and his or her baby in the period leading up to and occurring during and after birth.
Buffers: Events, resources and experiences that decrease the impacts of stress and trauma. See more in The Chronic Illness Model.
Compounding: The effects of multiple, repeated, or different traumatic events are additive. See more in posts: The Chronic Illness Model, Trauma is like a Dandelion and The Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Critical Periods: Important periods in the growth and maturation of our organ systems and developing bodies, when the direction of development is most influenced by interactions with the environment. See more in The Chronic Illness Model.
Development: Periods of growth and maturation from conception through to adulthood.
David: is my husband. We were married in June 2011. I introduce him in the first blog post.
Early Life Events: This refers to events occurring during childhood.
Epigenetics: This field of study is discovering how environmental factors, such as stress and trauma, diet and exercise, medications and and other non-genetic factors influence our genes without actually changing the genese themselves. Epigenetic changes occur on or around genes and modify their behavior by turning them on or off. These changes can be passed down through generations, just like genetic information and mutations can. Unlike genetics, however, epigenetics are processes that can be reversed. There’s more in this post on epigenetics and why chronic illness may be reversible.
Freeze: When fight and flight are not options for surviving a threat, our physiologies shut down into the state of immobilization, known as freeze. It is the inability to shift back out of freeze that leads to symptoms. See more in The Chronic Illness Model, Trauma is like a Dandelion and The Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Latency Periods: The period of time between initiation of patterns during a traumatic events, and the onset of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often delayed by weeks, months or years. This is known as a latency period. Latency periods are also seen in many chronic illnesses between the experience of stressors and the onset of symptoms. See more in The Chronic Illness Model and The Adverse Childhood Experiences..
Patterns: I refer to patterns as conditioned responses that are initiated by traumatic events. Additional traumatic events and triggers perpetuate and strengthen these patterns, which can show up in our everyday lives as well as in our relationships and with our symptoms. See more in The Chronic Illness Model.
Perinatal: The period occurring a few months before, during birth, and after birth.
Prenatal Stress: Stressful events during pregnancy, including from hunger and starvation, emotional and physical trauma, have significant impacts on a baby and its development. These effects can last into adulthood.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms of PTSD occur following traumatic events for some, though not all of us. Symptoms can include anxiety, depression, rage, and guilt; being highly reactive to sights, sounds, smells and other reminders (triggers) of the original event(s); reliving the original event(s) or having nightmares related to it; losing the ability or interest to connect with others, and more. The presence of symptoms suggests the existence of more than one experience of trauma. See more in The Chronic Illness Model.
Prior Trauma: Traumatic events that occur before the final, most visible trauma, increase risk for the eventual development of symptoms. Soldiers who develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), for example, are more likely to have had experiences of trauma before joining the service. I believe that the same occurs in chronic illness, where the final stressor preceding onset of disease is an event that unmasks a preexisting pattern, rather than being the actual cause of symptoms. See more in The Chronic Illness Model and Trauma is like a Dandelion.
Resources: Events, experiences, people and things that help us feel safe or supported, that enable us to soften and our hearts to open, or that help us to recover following stressful events, are resources. See more in The Chronic Illness Model and Resources.
Transgenerational Transmission: Traumatic events in people’s lives can affect their children and their childrens’ children. The impact of difficult experiences can be passed down through behavior and how we act and react – such as if we have PTSD – , through our physiology, and through the process of epigenetics, in addition to genetics.
Triggers: Triggers are sights, sounds, smells, events, people and other experiences that act as reminders of past traumatic events. They “trigger” or stimulate our bodies and minds to react as if we were re-experiencing these old events in the moment.
Trauma: Trauma is an event that is experienced as both life-threatening and inescapable. When there is no option for successful escape through fight or flight, this is the kind of event that elicits an unconscious state of shutting down, known as the freeze response. An event that is considered traumatic is unique for everyone because it is shaped by perception and influenced by our past life events, including adverse childhood events (see ACEs above) and trauma in early life. See more in The Chronic Illness Model and Trauma is like a Dandelion.