Childhood Maltreatment and Psychopathology

Neuroscience being a hobby of mine (does that make me a nerd? LOL) I took a bunny trail from another article to this research paper:

Childhood Maltreatment and Psychopathology: A case for ecophenotypic variants as clinically and neurobiologically distinct subtypes

Which basically means:  they are hypothosizing that kids mistreated in childhood have “different” forms of their mental health issues than kids that were not…e.g. a person with depression and childhood abuse has a different type of depression than someone with a good childhood.

Whether they are right or not is not my concern for this post, but what got me typing this morning was this:  their definition of maltreatment: “Maltreatment is characterized by sustained or repeated exposure to events that usually involve a betrayal of trust.”

Now they do not mention relinquishment/adoption outright in their examples. (pthththth) (I know, I’m so mature!) (Hey, it’s before 8AM on a Monday morning, so sue me.) Their active examples: sexual, physical and various forms of emotional abuse. Their passive examples: emotional and physical neglect.

So let’s look at relinquishment and adoption.

What is relinquishment to the baby besides an extreme betrayal of trust?? A baby *needs* it’s biological mother.  Whether it can “survive” without her in particular is not what I’m saying. I’m saying the need is real, for that woman. The baby is biologically and neurologically and instinctually searching and needing the person he/she has been with for nine months. Studies prove it. The baby knows.

Trust is broken, and as the child grows a part of the child, no matter how much they love their adoptive parents, understands that mothers shouldn’t abandon their children. Every mention of “we’ll never do that to you” from the adoptive parents proves it, every nature video you see in school of baby mammals knowing their own mother in a herd reminds you, every mention of “aww, he has his father’s eyes” in casual conversation twists the knife. A continual reminder of the betrayal of trust. “Sustained or repeated exposure to events that usually involve a betrayal of trust.”  As long as the child is separated from it’s biological family, the betrayal of trust continues.

And this is just on a good day. Add in any trouble in the adoptive family and you add gasoline to the fire.

Here is their definition of emotional manipulation: “Emotional Manipulation (placing the child in a situation intended to elicit shame, guilt or fear in order to serve the emotional needs of the perpetrator or to persuade the child to perform actions against his/her will or denigrating or destroying things of value to the child).”

I’ll change that a little bit…take out the “intended to” because that is just talking about the intentions of the perpetrator not necessarily the outcome in the child. You have “placing the child in a situation [that elicits] shame, guilt, or fear in order to serve the emotional needs of the [adoptive parent/original family] or to persuade the child to perform actions against his/her will or denigrating or destroying things of value to the child (i.e. ***their own mother!! Their original family!! Their trust in families, their own self worth!!***).  I don’t know one adoptee that didn’t, at least as a child, have shame, guilt, and fear surrounding adoption.

Here is their definition of emotional neglect: “failure to provide for the child’s basic emotional needs, being emotionally unresponsive to child’s distress, not attending to child’s social and emotional development or not attending to child’s school performance, homework etc, or expecting the child to routinely manage situations that are beyond his/her maturity level or are not safe.”

Here we have yet another case for adoption as trauma:

  • failure to provide for the child’s basic emotional needs – needing his/her biological mother at birth and beyond, needing to be able to grieve for as long as it hurts (i.e. possibly forever) when he/she doesn’t have biological mother
  • being emotionally unresponsive to a child’s distress – well, all us struggling adoptees have stories of parents and society at large telling us it’s not so bad, suck it up, or even how dare you want those people??
  • expecting the child to routinely handle situations that are beyond his/her maturity level or are not safe – ummm, being abandoned by your whole family is beyond the maturity level of most adults, let alone children. Being left by your family is “not safe.”  Yet we are told to be thankful for these things.

Tell me again that adoption isn’t trauma? That it’s so awesome?  

If it fits all the criteria for maltreatment, why does everything think it’s so freakin’ good???

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