The practice of ACEs science in the time of Trump

abridge

As with any remarkable change, the 2016 presidential election, a swirl of intense acrimony that foreshadowed current events, actually produced a couple of major opportunities. It stripped away the ragged bandage covering a deep, festering wound of classism, racism, and economic inequality. This wound burst painfully, but it’s now open to the air and sunlight, the first step toward real healing. The second opportunity is how the election and its aftermath are engaging more Americans from many different walks of life. The election brought out people who hadn’t voted in years; its aftermath has engaged people who’d counted on someone else to do their citizenship work for them. All these people — all of us — now have an opportunity to work together to solve our most intractable problems. That knowledge is embodied in the science of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

In a nutshell, this ACEs science clearly shows that childhood trauma results in the adult onset of chronic physical and mental illness, violence, and being a victim of violence. It shows that most of us have experienced childhood trauma. And it shows that the systems we’ve created to change human behavior — whether criminal, unhealthy or unwanted — will actually work if we change them from blaming, shaming and punishing people to understanding, nurturing and and healing them.

The divide we start from is stark: an Electoral College that chose Donald Trump to be president by a vote of 306 to 232, and the voters who chose Hillary Clinton by a nearly three-million vote margin (65,844,610 to 62,979,636).

So, here we are with an administration, whether you agree with its policies or not, that often uses bullying to try to get its way instead of respectful negotiation, responds to decisions it doesn’t like with threats instead of respectful disagreement, describes events it doesn’t like by saying they didn’t happen, and is enacting some policies that harm children and families.

Those actions are not just a matter of being merely “politically incorrect”. ACEs science is clear: bullying, losing a parent (to divorce, separation or deportation), emotional abuse, racist or religious discrimination, physical abuse and witnessing others being hurt — along with several other types of adversity — harm children and adults.

In the case of children, these experiences damage the structure and function of their brains, which can lead to them becoming unhealthy adults who may harm themselves or other people. If their adverse experiences are unrelenting, children live much of their lives in survival mode, responding to their world by fighting, by being frozen into inaction by fear, or by fleeing. They can’t learn as well as those who haven’t been traumatized and they don’t form healthy relationships because they have trouble trusting.

Besides the damage to their brains, children’s health suffers in two other ways: The over-production of the stress hormone cortisol damages their immune response system, leading to illness and chronic diseases that can affect them immediately and/or emerge when they’re adults. These diseases include asthma, obesity, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, etc. And to cope with the anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, etc. caused by toxic stress from ACEs, children grow into adults who drink too much alcohol or become addicted to other drugs or activities such as shopping, or who overeat, rage, engage in thrill sports, and even overachieve (workaholism), all of which can also contribute to poor health.

These same behaviors — bullying, emotional abuse, racist or religious discrimination, physical abuse and/or witnessing others being hurt — can harm adults, too. Depending on the number of the ACEs they experienced, the duration and when they occurred, the nurturing they received when they were growing up, or the healing that they experienced, adults can be triggered into reliving those same experiences virtually, with the same fight, flight or freeze responses, and, in absence of healthy behaviors, the same harmful coping behaviors. Adults carry these behaviors with them to shape how they interact with their co-workers, their children, and people in their community.

And so the cycle continues.

As we progress through these next few years, this knowledge about ACEs science helps us in two ways:

First, it helps us understand that our responses of fight, flight, or fear to current bullying, threats, and/or humiliation are normal and expected if we’ve had those experiences in our childhood. And one part of ACEs science — the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — as well as the dozens of subsequent ACE surveys completed by 32 U.S. states and several countries — show that most of us have had those experiences. It helps us recognize that anger, though useful to motivate, will harm us if we don’t move through it to constructive – not destructive — action. Anger comes from survival brain, and we need to be in thinking brain (our prefrontal cortex), if we’re to make good decisions.

It’s also important to recognize that appeasing is another a common response to threat. Think of family violence situations where spouses must protect children and thus cannot fight, freeze or flee, and so they appease the perpetrator to try to reduce his/her abusive behavior. Thus, some people are afraid to challenge authority because of economic circumstances (a family to support, health care coverage, etc.) or they are triggered because of what they experienced as children, and respond the same way.

And many people experience a dizzying confusion when the administration says that events did not occur, when evidence of those events is in front of the world’s eyes in photos or verifiable data. Confusion and frustration are normal responses, because when parents or caregivers tell children that what they experienced (sexual abuse, physical abuse, etc.) didn’t really happen to them, they are forced to live in an unreality of someone else’s lies, often for years, which is emotionally discombobulating.

ACEs aren’t just a problem for poor people

Second, this understanding about the effects of childhood adversity is also a potent reminder that ACEs are not only an issue for people living in poverty, but for people of all economic classes, something to which the ACEs movement and research hasn’t paid much attention lately. The consequences aren’t fully understood yet, but we may be experiencing them now. The original CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study clearly demonstrated that ACEs are quite common in the mostly white, college-educated, middle and upper-middle class. Twelve percent of that cohort of 17,000 participants — all of whom had jobs and great health care — had 4 or more ACEs. We know that high ACE scores can result in serious physical and mental health consequences. We know that the phrase “hurt people hurt people” emerged from the realization that most people who’ve committed violent crimes have high ACE scores.

However, hurt people hurt people on many levels, including enacting policies and legislation that are just as harmful as interpersonal violence. Many people with high ACE scores in the middle and upper socio-economic classes end up as community leaders. They are judges, teachers, principals, mayors, newspaper publishers, CEOs of companies, senators, representatives, and presidents. They create zero-tolerance schools; incarcerate children for minor offenses; enact policies that wait to intervene to offer help to troubled families until abuse has occurred, then cause further trauma by removing children from parents. They incarcerate people for being addicted to drugs; deport parents who are not a threat to public safety and separate them from their children; even manufacture false threats in order to declare wars in which thousands of brave soldiers are killed or injured, and in which thousands families and hundreds of communities suffer unimaginably.

It’s not just hurt people who are creating policies that hurt people. The reality is that all of these policies were developed by people who didn’t know about ACEs science. Our systems are organized around the belief that people can only change their unhealthy, criminal or unwanted behavior if they are punished, blamed and/or shamed. However, this new knowledge provided by ACEs science clearly shows that understanding, nurturing and helping people heal themselves is more successful and saves money.

There are now hundreds of trauma-informed and resilience-building schools that eliminate expulsions, and where kids’ test scores, grades and hope (because they’re continuing on with their education) increase. Trauma-informed pediatric practices and primary care clinics are helping parents learn about their own ACEs to engage them in learning how to be healthier parents, and as a result, visits to the ER drop 30 percent. There are dozens, perhaps a couple of hundred, of trauma-informed judges and courts where recidivism drops to nearly zero. There are trauma-informed businesses and self-healing communities where hospital visits decrease, juvenile crime plummets and health insurance rates drop.

In fact, name a sector, and there are ACEs science pioneers showing that this new knowledge can actually be used to create organizations and systems that nurture people to bring out the best in them, solve our most intractable problems and save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Until they learned about ACEs science, many of those ACEs pioneers themselves supported policies based on blame, shame and punishment. Understanding ACEs science often takes some time to assimilate, however. People have to apply ACEs knowledge to their own lives before they can apply it to their family, work or community lives. That can be a challenge, because many people are reluctant — some, understandably terrified — to re-examine their turbulent childhoods, even if it means that pain and discomfort is a door to healing. Until then, they may call trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on ACEs science “mollycoddling” or “soft”, or they just won’t believe the numbers or changes in people’s lives.

Although the numbers and changes are just too big and numerous to ignore now, the spread of knowledge about ACEs sciences is still in its infancy, so we’re still functioning in a world where we are guided — consciously or subconsciously — by our ACEs. It seems as if people with high ACE scores go in one of two general directions: We see the world as a place of suffering that needs healing, encourage people to work together to solve problems, and believe that the world works better without conflict than with it. Or we see the world as a dark and dangerous place where carnage is rampant, problems are everywhere, and they are solved by identifying and defeating enemies, building walls and cutting off communication from people identified as “other”. And if enemies do not present themselves, we who see the world as a dangerous place will create them and make them larger than they are, so that their “defeat” empowers us to find more enemies to conquer.

What can the ACEs community do?

  1. We can be inclusive and listen to each other’s stories. Most of us have experienced childhood adversity. Many of us, way too much of it. We all breathe the same ACEs air; we all swim in the same ACEs ocean, no matter what our politics, cultural background, gender, place of birth, etc. Carl Sagan, the popular astronomer and astrophysicist, said: “In the way that skepticism is sometimes applied to issues of public concern, there is a tendency to belittle, to condescend, to ignore the fact that, deluded or not, supporters of superstition and pseudoscience are human beings with real feelings, who, like the skeptics, are trying to figure out how the world works and what our role in it might be. Their motives are in many cases consonant with science. If their culture has not given them all the tools they need to pursue this great quest, let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.”
  2. Most of us don’t have the ear of a national leader, so we can throw our energies into changing our own communities to become self-healing. The kind of progress that we humans have made over the last two centuries toward ensuring universal human rights is stunning. Two hundred years ago, three out of every four people walking this Earth lived out their lives in various types of slavery, which was indigenous to every continent. Most children worked instead of attending school. Most women were regarded as the property of their husbands, fathers or brothers. The spread of trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on ACEs science is a logical extension of this human rights movement: Practices based on ACEs science flatten barriers to people’s freedom and futures, as well as between and among people so that we can create communities in which all people thrive. But we have to make sure we’re not ignoring anyone…and our country has, on a national level and within our communities. We can build bridges that unite everyone in a community to embrace a common respect for each other and a common purpose. This includes Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians; rich, middle-class, poor; urbanites, rural residents, suburbanites; all religions; all ethnicities and races; all abilities; all genders; all ages. Living Room Conversations is a great way to start building those bridges — it has more than 50 ready-to-discuss topics with conversation ground rules and a format than ensures everyone gets a chance to speak.
  3. We can support local journalism, and encourage the reporters and editors who serve our communities to report as much about solutions as they do about problems. When they report about local problems, we can encourage them to look for communities that have figured out solutions so that they can provide information about how we might fix things locally.We can support the national media that does the heavy lifting on keeping us informed by reporting about an administration that seems, so far, to be comfortable with not providing people with accurate information. That reporting helps us so that we don’t have to live in an unreality of the administration’s choosing.And we can encourage the national media to report as much about solutions as they do problems, too. James Fallows, an editor at The Atlantic, reported that surveys consistently show that most people are optimistic about the future of the communities in which they live, but not the nation. That disconnect is partly because we’re exposed to a more even reporting of successes and failures locally, but journalism at a national level is stuck in reporting mostly about conflict and corruption. Our view of the world is shaped by what we read and hear, so if 90% of what we read and hear is about how messed up things are, well, how can we think otherwise? As Fallows noted: “Yes, residential and educational segregation are evident across the country. Yes, police violence is more visible than ever before. But people in Michigan and Mississippi and Kansas were more willing to start confronting these injustices locally than nationally. The same was true of immigration. In our travels we observed what polls also indicate: The more a community is exposed to recent immigrants and refugees, the less fearful its people are about an immigrant menace. We heard no lusty “Build a wall” cheers in California or Texas or other places where large numbers of outsiders had arrived.” This story about Garden City, Kansas, which has worked consciously for 20 years to welcome immigrants so that it could thrive economically while other Kansas communities struggle, is a good example.
  4. As my dear friend Robin reminded me last week: We can keep breathing through our hearts. In other words, we in the ACEs movement have to walk the talk. Another friend of mind said that there’s a salient metaphorical question that’s important to ask: “Who pushed Donald Trump’s face down into the snow?” We know that, no matter whether someone has grown up in poverty or wealth, experiencing ACEs can shape them into having such a dark view of the world that empathy has been constricted into a tiny part of their soul. It’s still there, and can be retrieved if they are willing, but it doesn’t frame that person’s daily interactions. Our work is to understand that, and to do our best to create healthy communities, systems and organizations that support healthy families so that children grow up to be happy, healthy and engaged in creating open and thriving communities instead of to be distrustful, belligerent and determined to build walls, virtual or otherwise. The good news is, this isn’t a utopian vision; communities integrating practices based on ACEs science are well on their way to becoming healthy.

This new knowledge about human behavior — ACEs science — is basic and revolutionary. It’s basic because it helps us understand what works and what doesn’t work to change human behavior: Blame, shame and punishment, around which our systems are organized to change human behavior, whether criminal or unsafe or unhealthy, don’t work. Understanding, nurturing and helping people help themselves do. And ACEs science is revolutionary because it offers real hope, based on some remarkable data from pioneers in the movement, that this new knowledge can help us solve our most intractable problems.

Perhaps there’s an opportunity to educate President Trump and the people who surround him, and the current leaders in Congress about ACEs science. Perhaps not. What we know we can do is to change our own communities. But we have to make sure we’re not ignoring anyone, as we have been. ACEs science teaches us that we can work together, and make sure nobody’s left out, that there are no “deplorables”, as Hillary Clinton stated, and that we can open a door to healing for everyone who needs it. Just as our real national infrastructure is in sore need of repair, so is our virtual national infrastructure. By repairing it at the community level and integrating ACEs science to create self-healing communities, we can change the nation so that it is self-healing, too, one that is led by healers.

And one more thing: ACEs science shows us very clearly that there is no “them and us”. We’re all in this together. We’re all human; our responses to ACEs are human, i.e., the same. In that way, ACEs science is apolitical and acultural. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, black, brown, white, left, right or middle, born in Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, or Europe — if you experience many types of adverse childhood experiences, and are unlucky enough to be provided few resilience factors, your brain will be damaged, and you will suffer the consequences. Only in how we express our adversities do we differ. But the good news is: ACEs science also shows that our brains are plastic and our bodies want to heal. So, if we’re all in this together, then working together to create communities that provide environments for children and adults to heal is our only path to success.

“Together” is a tough road though, and can be extraordinarily uncomfortable, even terrifying, in its strangeness. It’s so much easier to resolve conflict by taking the traditional roads of gossiping, talking trash, yelling, bullying, hitting, shooting, locking up, running away, ignoring, not getting involved, excluding….

Oh, right. None of those things work. They’re what brought us to the divided nation we’re living in  today.

22 responses

  1. Jane Ellen Stevens,

    Really appreciated your article. Loved your 4 point outline on what the ACEs community can do. And I concur with your statement towards the end that there is no them or us, “we are all in this together.”

    My wife and I met Dr. Felitti at a symposium with SCAR/Jasper Mountain Residential Treatment Center in Eugene before the ACE Study was even shared to the rest of the world. It really helped us understand the boys and the families that we worked with so much better – Trauma Informed Care!

    I do need to share this:

    The beginning and ending of your article were BOTH distasteful political statements that I believe have no business being a part of ACEs Too High page. I strongly object to these statements:

    The Beginning:
    .
    “So, here we are with an administration, whether you agree with its policies or not, that often uses bullying to try to get its way instead of respectful negotiation, responds to decisions it doesn’t like with threats instead of respectful disagreement, describes events it doesn’t like by saying they didn’t happen, and is enacting some policies that harm children and families.”

    The Ending:

    “Together” is a tough road though, and can be extraordinarily uncomfortable, even terrifying, in its strangeness. It’s so much easier to resolve conflict by taking the traditional roads of gossiping, talking trash, yelling, bullying, hitting, shooting, locking up, running away, ignoring, not getting involved, excluding…”

    Interesting enough I would say that is a TRUE statement about the last administration.

    Sincerely,

    Pastor Dave Grammon, Executive Director
    TrueNorth Star Ministries

    QMHA, DCEF & HGO Chaplain
    Douglas County Jail

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  2. I’m giving a talk on Raising Children in Turbulent Times this weekend, and you have reminded me to talk about ACEs and how we as adults must “name it to tame it” for ourselves. Since emotions are contagious, we all have to work on reducing our reactivity so our children will feel safe and secure. Thank you so much Jane, for this thoughtful article.

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  3. “What can the ACE community do? 1) Listen to each other’s stories.” I would like to point out that unlike the UK, the USA has failed to recognize the terroristic act of ‘Domestic Violence by Proxy. There are inherent dangers of long-term exposure to ‘coercive control.’ It has been documented – for decades – by several leading experts in the field of domestic abuse that financial abuse, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse post-divorce judgement has led to thousands and thousands and thousands of US women and children being traumatized. They often suffer from Complex-PTSD which is often times mis-diagnosed and improperly treated. For example, most licensed clinicians will note the signs of trauma but are unaware of the trauma caused by DV by Proxy and coercive control. They will mis-label a child with ADD. Women and children are being traumatized by the legal system as well. It is a fact that there is an incentive via federal funding {fatherhood dot gov grant monies supported by our own DOJ} to terminate mother & child bond. A child taken from it’s primary caregiver leads to trauma. Trauma undiagnosed and poorly treated has led to hundreds and hundreds – if not thousands – of suicides. While antiquated DV experts focus on homicides due to DV, thousands are choosing to end the emotional pain with suicide. Lawyer Shawn Mc Millan of California is ‘outing’ this practice in California. And child safety activist Geerte Frenken has documented a list of suicides due to coercive control & trauma via family court process. She also has a video library of testimonials of women and children who have been brave enough to share their experience of maternal deprivation (CCN Media radio “Hell is for Children”). Yes, a very small percentage of men are victims of violence: but, truth be told, men are the perpetrators of the majority of abuse and / or violence. Protective mothers are organizing all over the world. They organize because suicide and homicide are equally fatal. It’s time to address DV by Proxy and outlaw coercive control as it has been recently outlawed in the UK. FMI: http://www.freejasmijn.com/?page_id=1677

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    • Domestic Violence has all the earmarks of … a Wicked Problem. Without an awareness of the multiple complexities involved, many attempts at remedying DV run the risk of making things worse …

      “In 1973, two social scientists, Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber, defined a class of problems they called “wicked problems.” Wicked problems are messy, ill-defined, more complex than we fully grasp, and open to multiple interpretations based on one’s point of view. They are problems such as poverty, obesity, where to put a new highway—or how to make sure that people have adequate health care.

      They are the opposite of “tame problems,” which can be crisply defined, completely understood, and fixed through technical solutions. Tame problems are not necessarily simple—they include putting a man on the moon or devising a cure for diabetes. They are, however, solvable. Solutions to tame problems either work or they don’t.

      Solutions to wicked problems, by contrast, are only better or worse. Trade-offs are unavoidable. Unanticipated complications and benefits are both common. And opportunities to learn by trial and error are limited. You can’t try a new highway over here and over there; you put it where you put it. But new issues will arise. Adjustments will be required. No solution to a wicked problem is ever permanent or wholly satisfying, which leaves every solution open to easy polemical attack. ” ~ Atul Gawande, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, New Yorker, June 28, 2012

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  4. Pingback: The practice of ACEs science in the time of Trump | Stop Abuse Campaign

  5. Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    “hurt people hurt people on many levels, including enacting policies and legislation that are just as harmful as interpersonal violence. Many people with high ACE scores in the middle and upper socio-economic classes end up as community leaders. They are judges, teachers, principals, mayors, newspaper publishers, CEOs of companies, senators, representatives, and presidents.”
    Carl Sagan, the popular astronomer and astrophysicist, said: “In the way that skepticism is sometimes applied to issues of public concern, there is a tendency to belittle, to condescend, to ignore the fact that, deluded or not, supporters of superstition and pseudoscience are human beings with real feelings, who, like the skeptics, are trying to figure out how the world works and what our role in it might be. Their motives are in many cases consonant with science. If their culture has not given them all the tools they need to pursue this great quest, let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.”
    Those of us adoptees who lived through the time leading up to The Apology for forced adoption know only too well the truth of the above, having been subjected to bullying, invalidation, deceit, scepticism, stigma, harassment and threats. We survived but live with the memory of what was directed at us and the knowledge that those who perpetrated such things continue to work with and influence some adoptees.

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  6. I’m so glad some wrote about this- it is exactly what I have been thinking with respect to the political situation- we need to have different conversations, what include ACEs!

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  7. Jane, Thanks for the wonderful, in-depth, article and reflection on ACEs at a time of Trump. I agree that the election pulls the cover off a lot of the abuse, neglect, and abandonment, that has been a part of our society for so long, along with the resultant anger, fear, and inequality that result. Back in May, 2016, I wrote an article, “The Real Reason Donald Trump Will Be Our Next President” http://menalive.com/the-real-reason-donald-trump-will-be-our-next-president/#more-3797. I cited indications of his own childhood abuse, neglect, and abandonment, and how prevalent these issues had become in our country. I had hoped we would wake up and change before the election, but now that he’s in office and we see the impact of electing people who have been severely damaged as children we can work together to heal.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A few years ago I chatted with Dr Felitti about the fact that the ACE studies asked about the mother suffering domestic abuse and violence (DV), but not the father. The latest studies have shown us for several years, now, that DV is an equal opportunity sin and that the ACE studies are probably skewed by not incorporating female initiated DV with males as the victims. The old figures were than only about 5% of DV was perpetrated by females. Those figures are outdated and I’d like to see a global look at DV with the new statistics supporting the expanded look at DV and ACEs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course, fathers suffer abuse and violence; nevertheless, even the latest figures show that women perpetrate less abuse than men. However, what’s interesting is that studies show that during adolescence, girls and boys perpetrate and are victims at about equal levels. This shows that family violence is a lock-and-key kind of relationship. I’ll be doing an article about family violence and how ACE-informed practices are taking a different and more successful approach to reducing it.

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      • Fact is and always has been that men are {predominately} the perpetrators of abuse. Women often act in defense and then get labeled as the abusive one: the book, “Hanging On By My Fingernails,” is one such example. In the teen years, the acts may be equal by gender as the teens act out what they are exposed to. Acting out does not make them ‘abusive’ kids per say if they are unable to process their exposure to domestic abuse, their only ‘coping’ skill albeit an unhealthy one is to model the abuse that they witness. Hate, violence, abusive traits, ec are taught and modeled for children. Hence the cycle of abuse being perpetuated into the next generation until we adopt the ACE interventions and dialogue about the need to change society’s willingness to look the other way when we speak of abuse toward women and children as pandemic.

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  9. While reducing bullying is certainly a worthy goal, it was not one of the original ACE study categories. As a consultant to the E.R. for suicidal patients, I have become quite familiar with the ACE studies and often find that suicidal individuals have experienced six or more. I have deep respect for this research and sometimes feel overwhelmed by absences of any clear solutions. My search for research on suicide has included studies that found for a sample of nearly 100 Canadian teens, bullying was a factor in 6% of the cases, whereas parent-child conflict was present in over 20% of the cases. Clearly, 20% is more than 6% and yet where is the national outrage over child abuse, neglect and sexual abuse of children by step-parents/live-in boyfriends. The family unit is in shambles to the point where there is no such thing as a typical family anymore. As far as the clear indication that you believe “the political sky is falling” it seems that your level of panic is premature when one looks at the facts. You speak of the harm this administration has done to children without any specific examples. Whether you are alluding to the replacement of the Affordable (no longer true) Health Care Act, or a move towards securing the countries boundaries from illegal immigration, I cannot tell from your essay. Concerning the former AHA, all experts agree that it has not achieved it’s goals of reducing the unsustainable growth in healthcare costs. If it is so affordable, why are 20 million still uninsured? If you refer to the securing of the border, the current hysteria over Trump’s efforts to fulfill his campaign promise of removing illegal immigrants is also hyperbole at it’s worst. Now, he is portrayed as being anti-immigrant when there is a clear distinction between illegally entering this country and going through the legal process. Anyone who would enter illegally is clearly willing to disregard law and is this who we want living next door? For those who would argue for open borders, I ask “why don’t you leave your home/apartment door unlocked? By locking it, aren’t you showing a lack of compassion for someone who might want/need shelter? What is needed is less hysteria from those who believe a socialistic system as proposed by Bernie Sanders is the answer to the nation’s problems. After all, can anyone point to a nation of the size and diversity of the United States that has thrived under such a system of government? Think about it rather than merely allowing your worst fears to fester and spread to others. Finally, as to who pushed Donald Trump’s face into the snow? It is foolish to assume that he was bullied. I am one of many fortunate Americans who grew up in a 2-parent household with 2 older Brothers and my Maternal Grandmother to love me and teach me how to love others. Sometimes that love placed boundaries (which I believed at the time were too strict). However, I’m grateful for the love & the boundaries that have enabled me to achieve the American dream of health and prosperity and many close human relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

      • In response to Timothy: I do want to say that in talking to teachers and therapists working in schools in Oakland Ca with many immigrant children there is a great deal of increased fear and anxiety. There is more acting out behaviors (including cutting) and there are children who are in fear of losing their parents who are not documented. These children are suffering….and anytime a child suffers…it hurts us all. There are also young children across the country in JCC’s who have had to evacuate their classrooms because of bomb threats…the fear is quite high, and I see that the words of #45 are inciting more hatred across our country. I can feel myself being triggered by these and other things…and I have to remember that this authoritarian lying “father” is not my father or leader. I hope that we can see more compassion and kindness coming from our leaders….for the sake of our children and our future.

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  10. The reality, and I once asked Rob Anda this personally, is that an ACE Score of 1 can be profoundly neurobiologically compromising, depending upon circumstances that surround it, and what happens in the wake of the experience. My basic assumption when I encounter unskillful behavior in the world is that some adverse history is driving behavior in the moment. My challenge then becomes not to compound unskillfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We must get our heads around the fact that ACEs aren’t just “trauma” related. An anxious mother during the pregnancy opens the door to epigenetic changes in her child, and there are many other non-traumatic environmental events that can cause ACEs. You see, the background events that are the causative factors in ACEs are so huge that we must begin to acknowledge Dr Perry’s comments in the last chapter of his book, “The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog.” There just aren’t enough programs and mental health workers available to meet the need. We must also attempt to meet the need by opening our doors to our neighbor children and loving them without a billing involved.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Furthermore, many common childrearing practices (cry-it-out; early daycare) will one day be recognized as traumatizing.

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      • I agree 1000% about daycare. Now that’s the easy part. How to solve the reasons that people need or think they need daycare and the rest will be follow. Sigh…

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