Most of us are keenly aware that our childhood experiences can influence us for a lifetime. But all childhood experiences are NOT created equal: They can range anywhere from blissful to traumatic. Fortunately, trauma is receiving a lot of renewed attention from thought leaders in the health and wellness space.
Check out this article by Lissa Rankin MD about developmental trauma. It’s a detailed exploration of what happens when 5 developmental needs are not met in childhood. The article is basically a book review of Healing Developmental Trauma by Laurence Heller and Aline LaPierre infused with Lissa Rankin’s unique wisdom as a medical doctor.
If you’re interested in finding out what can happen to your health when these 5 core needs go unmet, finish reading this post, then click over to Lissa’s longer article. And if you still want more, check out the book by Heller and LaPierre.
Medical Building Blocks
Different medical professionals think of trauma in different ways. For example, if you’re an emergency room doctor, working with trauma is all about repairing injured bodies. But if you’re a psychiatrist or psychologist, working with trauma means you’re helping people cope with their mental/emotional wounds. Whether you’re dealing with physical trauma or the mental/emotional kind, your health will be affected.
Most medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and therapists, learn in school about adverse childhood events, or ACEs, and how they affect the health of adults. There are even tools to measure and evaluate ACEs as a root cause of adult mental health conditions. But it turns out that individuals can be traumatized by childhood events that don’t rise to the level of measurable ACEs. And yes, there’s a model for that as well.
Enter the Neuro Affective Relational Model (NARM). NARM identifies 5 core developmental needs that must be met in childhood in order to have fulfilling relationships. Deep developmental traumas often remain undetected, yet they are actively affecting your relationships– and by extension– your physical health.
The 5 developmental needs we all have, according to NARM, are:
- Connection– being in touch with body and emotions; connecting with others
- Attunement– attuning to needs and emotions; reaching for and taking in physical and emotional nourishment
- Trust– healthy dependence and interdependence
- Autonomy– setting appropriate boundaries; saying no and setting limits; speaking up without guilt or fear
- Love/Sexuality– living with an open heart; integrating loving relationships including vital sexuality
Lissa Rankin, MD, outlines in her detailed article what happens when each of these needs is unmet.
Health Effects of Trauma
For a simple explanation of the health effects of trauma, remember that unmet developmental needs from childhood, along with latent or dormant memories, affect the subconscious mind and add to our chronic stress load as adults. Chronic stress then sets off a cascade of physiological events in which chronic stress causes inflammation in the body… which leads to chronic health conditions (and or makes them worse)… which adds to overall stress…which perpetuates inflammation… And the cycle continues.
Mental/emotional trauma has a subtle and complex relationship to physical illness, but it’s real and relevant in all our lives. Everything’s related. That’s why I take a holistic approach.
The energy work I do in Healing Touch and the Akashic Records often reveals hidden trauma, so I know how pervasive and powerful trauma can be. Reading this article about what happens when 5 core developmental needs are not met made me realize that the self-care, inner work, and mind-body practices we’re most strongly drawn to can help us make up for some of the developmental deficits, adverse experiences, and traumas we’ve experienced as individuals. It’s where true healing begins.
Let me know how I can help you. Contact me here.