Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP

Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP

Author, Mental Health Therapist, Researcher, Expert in Attachment Trauma

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When feelings are the trigger…

file0001931890417Children (and adults) who experienced inadequate comfort and nurturing as infants and toddlers are frequently unable to manage any sort of emotion – positive or negative – without becoming dysregulated.

Early deprivation leaves inadequate connections in the prefrontal brain.  The prefrontal brain is like Grand Central Station, connecting the higher and lower regions of the brain and also the right and left hemispheres.   The logical regions of the brain are not able to manage the emotional areas.

Another way to understand this is to think about the dependency of infants upon their caregivers to manage their emotions for them – to provide comfort and soothing when they are frightened, in pain, or stressed.  When there is not comforting attachment figure, the infant  learns that feelings are not safe.  The infant learns the only way to cope with feelings is by shutting down.  Feelings of any sort become a source of fear.

Children need their parents’ help to develop integrated brains.  They need assistance to access logical thought – to step back from their emotions a bit and contemplate them – to ride out the feelings, and to find ways to feel better.  It takes time and patience, but it’s an investment parents can make now that will be well worth it in the end.

Adults with a traumatic history need assistance as well, with skilled therapy and development of coping skills.  Traumatized children and adults are a vastly misunderstood population.

4 Responses to “When feelings are the trigger…”

  1. 1

    WOW! A month ago I Googled “unlivable agreement” (mentioned by my therapist, Jana Marzano) to get further information about it. Nothing useful came up on the first page of the Google search except an excerpt from The Whole Parent. I went to the library 2 hours later and started reading the book! OMG…I was in hook line and sinker! (I bought my own copy!) Lots of us in my ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) group are looking at and dealing with our Inner Children issues…so I recommended your book having read only a small amount of the book. In a week or so I had only gotten through 47 pages…funny how work can get in the way of doing one’s journey work… Well 3 days ago I decided to pick the book up again and start again from the beginning. This morning I asked myself the question…What ghosts are still haunting my story? (pg. 46) And the flood gates opened wide with insights into issues, relationships and patterns talked about in your book…along with preverbal issues and trauma bonding (those came up after some Googling other topics). And to think I’m still have only read to page 56!!! So my point of writing…thank you for this book. I (and several others) find that it’s helpful also for those of us that have never had children…but are working on our Inner Children issues. Blessings…

  2. 2

    You made my day! I really appreciate your comments. Debra

  3. 3

    Hi Debra, Okay…now I’ve read the WHOLE book…it is truly amazing/revelatory. I have recommended The Whole Parent to so many ACAs and adoptees it’s not even funny. My therapist has even bought the book to read because I keep on bringing it up while in session. This book isn’t just for parents of human kids. This is also for those of us who aren’t parents of human kids but who need to learn how to parent ourselves and our inner kids. Being an ACA and an adoptee I have been able to discover the root of my issues by reading and taking to heart the contents of this book. I have discovered that I wasn’t attached/bonded (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) to my adoptive parents yet I was trauma bonded to my older adoptive brother. I have been able to put two and two together to see how my life has been affected by being attached to things instead of people and how that affects me in the here and now in relationships. Now to do the hard work of change. And the journey continues…Blessings

  4. 4

    I am so happy the book has helped you along you healing journey! Thank you so much for writing!

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