Domestic abuse, the effects on society

It has long since been recognized that a frequently seen phenomenon by mental health practitioners is abuse and domestic violence. In trying to tackle and address DV, (reducing prevalence and promoting awareness in victims) has been the subject of much research. This paper aims to examine the sociological, psychological and biological implications contributing to domestic violence and explore the causes of abuse, domestic violence and the personality disorders that arise from childhood traumas.

Kelly Bristow BA, BSc (Hons) Registered Occupational Therapist

 

The truth behind emotional and psychological abuse

Abuse is becoming an epidemic, so many people are falling victim to some type of abuse whether it is institutional, emotional and cultural. Abuse is on the rise, people are speaking out and the truths behind some of the most heinous acts are now being exposed. Survivors have a unique voice to contribute to the growing volume of survivors speaking up, to help warn others of the dangers of this type of relationship.

The family and our childhood shape everything that we are to become. Programmes from generations passed will be carried down to the next generation. The lack of proper emotional support is also known as emotional and psychological abuse. This abuse can be termed as ignoring a child, withholding love and affection, constantly teasing the child, corrupting a child through inappropriate materials or deceiving the child/acting untrustworthy. This form of neglect is especially common, but may cause severe alterations in the brain of a child affecting, their stability later in life.

Forms of trauma recovery, such as trauma therapy are often beneficial to children suffering from neglect. That’s if the neglect has been identified. If this goes unnoticed or untreated, the person may be predisposed to the Stockholm syndrome.

The underlying pre disposing factors to the Stockholm syndrome.

Sexual Abuse or Assault

Sexual abuse or assault includes unwanted or coercive sexual contact, exposure to age-inappropriate sexual material or environments, and sexual exploitation. Violence Against Women defines sexual assault as ‘any type of sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.’

Physical Abuse or Assault

Physical abuse or assault is defined as the actual or attempted infliction of physical pain (with or without the use of an object or weapon), including the use of severe corporeal punishment. Law defines child abuse as any act, or failure to act, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation of a child.

Emotional Abuse or Psychological Maltreatment

Emotional abuse and psychological maltreatment are considered acts of commission (other than physical or sexual abuse) against an individual. These kinds of acts, which include verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and excessive demands or expectations, may cause an individual to experience conduct, cognitive, affective, or other mental disturbances. These acts also include acts of omission against a minor such as emotional neglect or intentional social deprivation, which cause, or could cause, a child to experience conduct, cognitive, affective, or other mental disturbances. This includes any behaviours that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.” Domestic violence includes violence and abuse by current or former intimate partners, parents, children, siblings, and other relatives.

Victim or Witness to Community Violence

Extreme violence in the community, including exposure to gang-related violence, interracial violence, police and citizen altercations, and other forms of destructive individual and group violence is a recognized form of trauma.

Historical Trauma

Historical trauma is a form of trauma that impacts entire communities. It refers to the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding, as a result of group traumatic experiences, that is transmitted across generations within a community. Unresolved grief and anger often accompany this trauma and contribute to physical and behavioural health disorders. This type of trauma is often associated with racial and ethnic population groups who have suffered major intergenerational losses and assaults on their culture and well-being.

Bullying

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may experience serious, lasting problems. Trauma can be a consequence of bullying, which can lead to mental health issues, substance use, and suicide, particularly if there is a prior history of depression or delinquency.

War, Terrorism, or Political Violence

Exposure to acts of war-, terrorism-, or political-related violence such as bombing, shooting, and looting can cause trauma in an individual.

Military Trauma

Military trauma refers to both the impact of deployment and trauma-related stress on people who are deployed and their families. Significant numbers of returning service men and women experience mental and/or substance use disorders associated with military trauma and/or military sexual trauma.

Victim or Witness to Extreme Personal or Interpersonal Violence

This type of trauma includes extreme violence by or between individuals including exposure to homicide, suicide, and other extreme events.

Traumatic Grief or Separation

Traumatic grief and/or separation may include the death of a parent, primary caretaker, or sibling; abrupt and/or unexpected, accidental, or premature death or homicide of a close friend, family member, or other close relative; abrupt, unexplained and/or indefinite separation from a parent, primary caretaker, or sibling due to uncontrollable circumstances.

System-Induced Trauma and re-traumatization

Many systems that are designed to help individuals and families can actually cause trauma. For example, in child welfare systems, abrupt removal from the home, foster placement, sibling separation, or multiple placements in a short amount of time can re-traumatize children. In mental health systems, the use of seclusion and restraint on previously traumatized individuals can revive memories of trauma. Further, invasive medical procedures on a trauma victim can re-induce traumatic reactions.

Effects of Trauma in Children

The effects of childhood trauma vary greatly, depending on the type and severity of the traumatic experience. Examples of these effects include:

Severe anxiety.

Self-injury.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Phobias.

Depression.

Drug Abuse typically requiring the help of a drug rehab facility.

Insomnia.

Promiscuity.

Difficulty learning, struggling in school.

Brain alterations.

Suicide.

Eating disorders which sometimes may require the attention of a qualified eating disorder treatment centre.

Extreme anger and hostility.

Children who have experienced any of these traumas are vulnerable to internalising the events and supressing the experience, which then creates a narcisstic wound for the child. Without support or therapy, the child is predisposed to being re-victimized or may become a victim to Stockholm syndrome.

Narcissism

Narcissistic abuse refers to a specific form of emotional abuse of children by narcissistic parents – parents who require the child to give up their own wants and feelings in order to serve the parent’s needs for esteem, which constitutes narcissistic abuse. The term has also come to be used more widely to refer to forms of abuse in adult relationships on the part of the narcissist.

To be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Has a grandiose opinion of self, sense of self-importance, exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without talent or evidence. Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) and Requires excessive admiration.
  • Entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes.

Narcissism is often associated with other personality disorders and sometimes even disorders in general. Theodore Million listed five “sub-types” of NPD, four of which NPD was associated with another disorder. Narcissism is often associated with psychopathy, as on Robert Hares Psychopathy Checklist Revised the very first item is having a grandiose unrealistic sense of superiority about themselves which is also the first item on the DSM IV-TR for NPD.

Narcissism in children

In children, inflated self-views and grandiose feelings, which are characteristics of narcissism, are part of the normal self-development. However, children typically cannot understand the difference between their actual and their ideal self, which causes an unrealistic perception of the self. After about age 8, views of the self, both positive and negative, begin to develop, based on comparisons of peers, and become more realistic. Two factors that cause self-view to remain unrealistic are dysfunctional interactions with parents that can be either excessive attention or a lack thereof. For example, but not limited to, the excessive attention and lack of attention go hand in hand when a child’s parents are divorced. Usually, one is overindulgent and the other shows less affection. The child either compensates for lack of attention or acts in terms of unrealistic self-perception. The neuro-typical child in a stable home without poverty will learn to manipulate the parents for personal gain. A child experiencing divorce and domestic abuse is manipulated by the dominant parent, thus, they learn to accept manipulation and are easier to control.

In a domestic violent relationship, the child is further compounded by the abusive parents, the abuse continues through the child. By using emotional blackmail, psychological abuse and mental cruelty. Children who have observed domestic violence, who have managed to escape are further abused by being forced to have access to a dangerous and unstable parent?

Children don’t like to admit their family is dysfunctional, damaged and abusive, through their pride, they hide the truth from others for fear of being harmed again. Whether this cruelty they expect will come from peers, parental prejudice or from society standards. To feel accepted in their community, children will unconsciously and naturally navigate towards people who they regard as safe and powerful. Even if the community group they radiate towards is criminally driven.

With conduct disorder, about 60% of children diagnosed with the condition develop antisocial personality disorder as adults, but far fewer wind up on the extreme end of the antisocial personality disorder spectrum, known as psychopathy or sociopathy.

Causes

The cause of this disorder is unknown; however, Groopman and Cooper (2006) listed the following factors identified by various researchers as possibilities:

  • An oversensitive temperament (personality traits) at birth.
  • Excessive admiration that is never balanced with realistic feedback.
  • Excessive praise for good behaviours or excessive criticism for bad behaviours in childhood.
  • Overindulgence and overvaluation by parents, other family members, or peers.
  • Being praised for perceived exceptional looks or abilities by adults.
  • Severe emotional abuse in childhood.
  • Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents.
  • Learning manipulative behaviours from parents or peers.
  • Valued by parents as a means to regulate their own self-esteem.

 

  • Some narcissistic traits are common with a normal developmental phase. When these traits are compounded by a failure of the interpersonal environment and continue into adulthood,
  • they may intensify to the point where NPD is diagnosed.

All children are at risk of developing narcissism from faulty parenting patterns, culture and societal standards and emotionally cold or harsh parenting.

Children who have been narcissistically abused by their parents develop complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Once the trauma from early childhood or dysfunctional families has been repressed, the child compensates by trying harder, to overcome the neurosis they are experiencing presently which is attached to the childhood trauma.

Recent research has identified a structural abnormality in the brains of those with narcissistic personality disorder, specifically noting less volume of grey matter in the left anterior insula (a portion of the cerebral cortex, a connecting feature between the temporal lobe and the parietal lobe). This brain region relates to empathy, compassion, emotional regulation, and cognitive functioning.

That amygdala and Limbic system in the left and right hemisphere of the brain play a central role in aversive conditioning, social interaction, moral judgement and emotional reasoning. Amygdala lesions can cause abnormalities which can block episodic memory in emotionally arousing events.

This then correlates directly with an injury to the prefrontal cortex. Scientists say that a traumatic brain injury, emotional dysfunction and seizures, can cause personality changes, poor impulse control and poor episodic memory.

Executive functioning.

The pre frontal cortex is also the mainframe of the brain. In here, we have executive functioning, (EF) this enables us the skills to plan and execute a task. For those with damage in this region of the brain, executive functioning is impaired. People are unable to time, plan, predict and execute tasks in sequence. People with dyslexia and ADHD are also affected due to pre frontal cortex impairment.

The EF is also impaired in those with Autism, Brain injury, Learning Disability, Mood disorders, Fatal Alcohol syndrome, Concussion, Stroke, Cancer treatments and ADHD. Asperger’s, a similar disorder and Psychopathy also has EF dysfunction. (See Appendix B)

Personality disorders are constructed through our childhoods, they are created from times where we were neglected, abandoned, rejected, ridiculed, vilified or abused. The traumatic event, decides how it will respond and cope with such an injury to their ego. The trauma is either identified or resolved, such as a child falls over and hurts their knee, they cry, their mother nurses their pain and they feel better. However, an emotional injury, such as being scolded in front of the class for saying something cheeky or defying your parent’s commands, creates an injury. This injury, if left alone, will be processed and stored, according to the age and ability of the child. Thus, a four-year-old child will feel a different response as opposed to a teenager experiencing the same incident. The trauma is recorded, as are all experiences and stored to memory.

Children with high autistic traits showed thinning (less brain tissue) mainly in the superior temporal and temperoparietal cortex, a region previously found to be smaller in autistic people. The area is associated with the processing of socially relevant information, particularly the ability to understand the minds of others and take different perspectives.

In the children with high levels of antisocial traits, however, thinning was seen in the anterior prefrontal cortex, the area associated with moral reasoning, which is obviously impaired in those who enjoy manipulating and harming others.

People with an antisocial disorder usually are very independent. They regard depending on others as weak, unless they seek to exploit them for their own purposes. Their social interactions are problem-ridden because they constantly strive to build themselves up at the expense of others. They are often shunned because others fear them. They are loners because love, trust, and friendship are antithetical to their way of life. They operate in a single-minded fashion, employing any means to fulfil their self-serving objectives.

Autism or psychopathy. Autism is a neurosis and is motivated by fear. Psychopathy is psychosis and is created by fear. Dysfunctional families where the child is undiagnosed autism, without support, may go on to develop psychopathy.

Biological

People with autistic traits show thinning (less brain tissue) as do those with ASPD. The superior temporal and the temporal parietal cortex, area is associated with the processing of socially relevant information, the ability to understand the minds of others and take different perspectives and moral reasoning, an aspect of acquiring socially relevant information to understand the minds of others. In children with high levels of antisocial traits, however, thinning was seen in the anterior prefrontal cortex, a region previously shown to be diminished in adult psychopaths. The area is associated with moral reasoning, which is impaired in those who enjoy manipulating and harming others.

The pre frontal cortex, which houses EF (our ability to analyse, plan, sequence and time an activity), is impaired for autistic individuals. Skills affected by executive functioning issues are; impulse control, emotional control, flexibility, working memory, self-monitoring, planning and prioritising, task initiation and organisation. Disorders, diseases and injuries to the pre-frontal cortex often develop executive functioning dysfunction. Executive planning is one assessment criteria for disorders such as ADHD and Autism.

Executive functioning related conditions include; ADHD, significant learning disabilities, mood disorders, foetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage, concussion, stroke, and cancer treatments. A faulty interaction between the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex could fail to provide the proper emotional cue, resulting in misunderstanding what was being expressed.

Both disorders have anti-social traits, where their behaviours don’t conform to social norms. Autistic people are more prone to psychotic type experiences when they are emotionally/anxiety distressed. Whereas antisocial are prone to psychotic episodes because their needs or wants haven’t been met! Autistic people tend to be loners because they are unable to understand and process social cues and are more likely to be dependant, due to their anxiety and insecurity in social environments. ASPD, are loners, because they alienate people away from them due to their high callousness and disregard for people and, because others fear them. Those with an ASPD usually are very independent, they regard depending on others as weak, unless they are exploiting them for their own purposes. Their social interactions are problem-ridden because they constantly strive to build themselves up at the expense of others and operate in a single-minded fashion, employing any means to fulfil their self-serving objectives.

Children with ASD often demonstrate enhanced perception of small changes in patterns such as arrangements of objects or well-known images. Many accounts of individuals with AS and ASD report other unusual sensory and perceptual skills and experiences. They may be unusually sensitive or insensitive to sound, light, and other stimuli; these sensory responses are found in other developmental disorders and are not specific to AS or to ASD.

Autistic individuals can handle internal events but are less effective at empathizing events generated by other agents. Incidentally, individuals with ASD do possess emotion capacity, and can be deeply remorseful when they accidentally upset or harm another. Although these individuals are on the high functioning end of ASD and one could say that those on the lower end are not capable of emotion.

Theory of Mind

Theory of mind (often abbreviated ToM) is the ability to attribute mental states such as, beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, intentions, and perspectives that are different from one’s own. Deficits can occur in people with autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as alcoholics who have suffered brain damage due to alcohol’s neurotoxicity. Although philosophical approaches to this exist, the theory of mind as such, is distinct from the philosophy of mind.

Proprioception is observed in those with psychopathy. They love physical aggression, fighting against each other, against anybody that slights them, it enrages them and they either freeze or fly! In anxiety terms, they either run in fear or face the fear. They love fear, it becomes a chemical addiction, neurologically, the adrenaline rush they receive from releasing suppressed anger through aggression floods their brain chemicals. Attaching the sensory experience with feeling alive. Without an outlet to release their physical aggression, they turn it out towards the environment. Seeking the rush with the danger attached to the interaction. Whether the release is physical aggression, emotional aggression, psychologic aggression or sexual aggression, the chemicals for the addiction must be fed. Enslaved to the minds control, he becomes addicted to his own failure. Fearing having to face the very demonic image of his core wound – loss of control. This means he has to take responsibility and learn to control himself, which he would rather not attempt as there is an easier option. Denial?

All those with narcissism and misogyny present with inner wounds of abandonment or rejection from their mothers, to compensate for the fury they feel at being overlooked by their mother is stored in their psychological room where trauma bonds are created. Which basically processes the young child’s attachment experiences, studies to date have always been assessed and stigmatised autism and other criminal offending behaviour to cold mothering. Whereas, Autism has now been proven to affect everyone and anybody, blaming cold mothering is no longer acceptable. When a mother is in a domestic violent relationship, with an autistic child, and the father becomes anti-social and abusive in the relationship, does this mean the child is also going to become an abuser?

The figures from the sample study indicate that not all children who live in violent homes develop Autism. Less than half of the participants had a child on the autism spectrum, more than half the mothers had children with no identifiable disorder. Therefore, can society blame criminal and abusive behaviour on parenting, when more than half of the children don’t develop any mental health problems from abusive parents. The neuro typical child is vulnerable to developing numerous mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and personality disorder. Personality disorders are created through societal and childhood abuse, by separating any attachments the child has with their care giver, affects the sense of self. The personality disordered individual is reacting from abuse programming of early childhood abuse. Whether the abuse was physical, emotional, psychological or sexual, these experiences are stored away in the memory. Depending on how the child perceived the event, whether they felt upset or angry, is just how the experience will replay itself again in the adult life. As a victim of further abuse, or as a perpetrator of abuse.

Therefore, children who are diagnosed on the Autism spectrum, are not likely to develop a personality disorder any more than the neuro-typical child. Experiences from childhood, regardless of whether the child has a disability or not, creates narcisstic abuse. Alongside those children who are affected by Autism, Asperger’ and Conduct disorder, are an exceptionally high risk to developing psychopathy, schizophrenia and violent offending. The reason these children are at risk of becoming psychopathic is due to the exact same brain functioning they all share. Pre frontal cortex dysfunction, amygdala and emotional regulation is dysfunctional alongside limited empathy. Therefore, mothers who have a child on the Autism spectrum are exceptionally vulnerable and need additional support and service intervention to ensure their child doesn’t go on to develop psychopathy. Thus, raising an undiagnosed autistic child, within a DV home, is a high risk factor for the child to then go on and develop psychopathy. As Psychopathy is only diagnosed after the event, the damage has already been done.

Children who are diagnosed with autism and are given adequate support will develop positive relationships and healthy emotional connections. Those who were neglected and failed to access mental health services, emotional support or behaviour therapy, are of high risk of becoming the exact negative version, of the healthy autistic individual, a criminal psychopath.

This is not to say that all children on the autistic spectrum will develop psychopathy, it means those children who have autism, share the same brain dysfunctional deficits as those who are not supported and go on to become, abusive or criminal psychopaths.

Sociological

Cultural and family conditioning

Social poverty and relative poverty add and compound the person/family/culture and environment. Growing up with limited resources affects the individual’s capacity to fully explore their human potential. A child with, ADHD, Autism and any other childhood pervasive developmental disorders that lives in a violent home, will develop interior coping mechanisms to counter-balance the internal confusion and fear, associated with a violent parent. Limited resources and poor work/home balance adds to the pressure of parenting and limited behaviour controls. The family is where the child first learns about love and hate, they learn how to care for themselves, how to make friends and socialise. At school they then learn to socialise in an acceptable manner and are then exploring the world of language exchange, including bullying, taunting and teasing these experiences can become painful and the child will want to supress or express their feelings, depending on their parent’s ability and intelligence to know that something is wrong with their child. Children living in abusive homes may go unnoticed, due to the pressure of government policy tied to safe guarding. This is counter-productive as the child is struggling in school, home and friendships, the parents are either working full time and don’t have the time to attend to their child’s needs, therefore, neglecting important developmental milestones. Or, the parents are too entrenched in keeping alive themselves, that the service provision needed, is limited until a disclosure is made by the parent, including risking their own life.

On the other hand, when disability is in the form of a mental illness, such as autism, shame of the disorder causes the family to suffer, the parents will be subjected to a barrage of emotional and spiritual abuse from a pastor, claiming they can beat the autism out of the child, they must be beaten on television or some other physical blasphemous act, in essence abusing the parents trust and their position of power! Religious conditioning and exorcism was previously executed to drive away evil spirits. Yet in serious case reviews or children under child protection, their parents think nothing of taking them to their local church, or place of worship and try to drive out evil forces from the child, when in actual reality, they are severely handicapped and are further re-traumatized by abuse.

Learnt behaviour

Phobias, fears and coping mechanisms are created during early years, they are instilled from past experiences and traumas that affect the neurology of the brain and the well-being for the person affected. A child that grows up in a violent home is vulnerable to creating complexes and coping skills that could become maladaptive and dysfunctional in their adult years. The traumas from childhood could pre dispose the person to numerous mental health conditions and disorders. The child may feel shame and embarrassment of their home life, they may feel resentful to their parents for neglecting their emotional needs or the damage of watching and learning may invoke anger from being abandoned, rejected and alienated, affecting their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Temperament and personality development also contribute to the childhood programming that causes narcissistic traits. Core wounds accumulated during childhood add to the growing collection of hurt, rejection and abandonment that drives narcissism forward.

From observing a classic narcissist, they demonstrate callousness also, but have closed themselves down to their higher emotions and only survive on basic instincts alone. They are internally motivated by their ego drives and have no genuine heart connection. Their intent is to accumulate as much as possible, materially, they are driven to achieve and aspire to success. Without merit or diligence. They fear poverty, scarcity and lack of resources and are motivated and internally driven, by MONEY!

Narcissism in today’s culture is out of hand. Everything is driven by fear, were afraid to grow up, to grow old, to age. Vanity holds society into a vice, claiming emotional and psychological investment from the individual in the outer appearance.

Three types of narcissists can be distinguished in today’s culture; they are;

Classic Attention Narcissist: Including histrionic (HPD) features. They display the traditional NPD characteristics described in the ICD & DSM along with histrionic features due to the fact that they think they’re superior and therefore they should have everyone’s attention, and when they don’t have everyone’s attention they go out of their way to capture the attention of as many people as possible. Lots of DRAMA.

Sociopath: Mainly just NPD characteristics. Someone who has narcissistic features described in the DSM and ICD and lacks features from other personality disorders. Without any ASPD features. Most likely to have experienced trauma and abuse in childhood, tends to behave more impulsively, hot headed. Lots of psychological and physical assaults.

Psychopathic narcissist Including antisocial (ASPD) features. This type of narcissist thinks that because they’re so superior to everyone they don’t have to follow the rules like most people and therefore because of this reason shows behaviour included in the ICD for dissocial personality disorder and behaviour included in the DSM for antisocial personality disorder. Presents as cold hearted and callousness, emotionally devoid in expression and experience.

Although autism is diagnosed on the basis of social impairment and repetitive behaviours, the importance of emotion regulation and all the behaviours that come with it – depression, tantrums, meltdowns, irritability – are very real and should be a focus of clinical services.

The prefrontal cortex works hard to modulate the emotional response that originated in the limbic system – an evolutionarily old part of the brain associated with basic emotions and needs (see appendix B).

When faced with emotional situations, people with autism do not use their prefrontal cortices to regulate emotions to the same extent as people without autism. This in turn may lead to the associated symptoms, such as anxiety, tantrums, and irritability, which can be pervasive. Children with autism often lack the ability to cope with difficult emotional situations that result in meltdowns and tantrums.

Conclusion

As this paper highlights the damage impact of neglect for all children. Domestic violence has no race, sex or status to who will be a victim and who will be an abuser. Due to the high intensity of the narcisstic culture, narcissism is also growing, as too is the childhood condition of autism.

In the sample survey, 45% of those who completed the survey have children on the autism spectrum. With cuts to services and mental health restrictions in acquiring mental health support for survivors, the outcome for closure to vital services is likely to become cataclysmic, in terms of violence experienced by children overall.

Domestic violence is creating dysfunctional relationship patterns, illness and disabilities, it is also impacting on child development and healthy behaviour, not to mention the health of survivors, who also go on to need further care, counselling or mental health services.

With statistics currently at one in four women who will experience DV, two women a week are murdered by their partners and these figures are rising? Cutting vital services to mental health and domestic violence may cause an epidemic that could become catastrophic.

 

© copyright Kelly Bristow, all rights reserved.

Appendix A

The human genome is made up of 23 pairs of chromosomes, each of which consists of double stranded DNA. Each DNA strand is a long sequence of four ‘bases’ – coded A, T, C, and G, and we have about 6 billion of these (~3 billion for each set of chromosomes). Interestingly, about 99% of this enormous sequence of DNA is nearly identical between different humans. There are a number of types of genetic variation between individuals that account for the remaining 1% – which underlies some of our variability as a species.

According to National Autism Society – There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – that’s more than 1 in 1001. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.8 million people every day. About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder

  • Autism doesn’t just affect children. Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults.
  • Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone has it.
  • While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.
  • 34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on.
  • 63% of children on the autism spectrum are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them.
  • 17% of autistic children have been suspended from school; 48% of these had been suspended three or more times; 4% had been expelled from one or more schools.
  • Seventy per cent of autistic adults say that they are not getting the help they need from social services. 70 % of autistic adults also stated that with more support they would feel less isolated.
  • At least one in three autistic adults is experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
  • Only 15% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment.
  • Only 10% of autistic adults receive employment support but 53% say they want it.

Psychopathy is a constellation of psychological symptoms that typically emerges early in childhood and affects all aspects of a sufferer’s life including relationships with family, friends, work, and school. The symptoms of psychopathy include shallow affect, lack of empathy, guilt and remorse, irresponsibility, and impulsivity.

Psychopaths make up about 1 percent of the general population and as much as 25 percent of male offenders in prison, according to the researchers. Psychopaths are typically profoundly selfish and lack emotion.

In 2013 Asperger’s syndrome was estimated to affect 31 million people globally.

Statistics taken from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
  • ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).
  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of between 1% and 2%.
  • About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.
  • ASD commonly co-occurs with other developmental, psychiatric, neurologic, chromosomal, and genetic diagnoses. The co-occurrence of one or more non-ASD developmental diagnoses is 83%. The co-occurrence of one or more psychiatric diagnoses is 10%.
  • Even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2 years, most children are not diagnosed with ASD until after age 4 years. The median age of first diagnosis by subtype is as follows.

◦Autistic disorder: 3 years, 10 months

◦Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS): 4 years, 1 month

◦Asperger disorder: 6 years, 2 months

  • Studies have shown that parents of children with ASD notice a developmental problem before their child’s first birthday. Concerns about vision and hearing were more often reported in the first year, and differences in social, communication, and fine motor skills were evident from 6 months of age.

Narcissistic personality disorder affects an estimated 1% of the general population.

Psychopathy accounts for 1% of the population! These individuals are either born with an emotional deficiency that keeps them from feeling bad about hurting others or they are traumatized early in life in a manner that causes them to become this way. With more than 7 billion people on the planet that means there are as many as 70,000,000 psychopaths alive today. These people are more likely to be risk takers, opportunists motivated by self-interest and greed, and inclined to dominate or subjugate those around them through manipulative means.

Not all psychopaths are criminals or have malicious intent, some are able to function in society as a well-adjusted individual, these were nurtured and loved during childhood. However, those who were born into poverty, or had unfortunate circumstances during childhood, are the most dangerous types of ASPD individuals.

Appendix B

EF in psychopathic individuals can be evaluated in two ways, a cold EF individual operates from a top down processing, associated with pre frontal cortex, includes response inhibition, working memory, planning and sustained attention. With correlates with the Autism, ADHD and Asperger’s presentation. The hot EF connects to the amygdala, (emotional mainframe of the brain) includes affective, motivational/incentive rewards processing, this correlates with the neuro-typical child. The neuro-typical person is motivated though emotional attachments and the non neuro-typical is motivated through external gratification.

There are functional differences between the right and left amygdala. In one study, electrical stimulations of the right amygdala induced negative emotions, especially fear and sadness. In contrast, stimulation of the left amygdala was able to induce either pleasant (happiness or unpleasant (fear, anxiety, sadness) emotions. Each side holds a specific function in how we perceive and process emotion. The right and left portions of the amygdala have independent memory systems, but work together to store, encode, and interpret emotion.

The right hemisphere is associated with negative emotion. It plays a role in the expression of fear and in the processing of fear-inducing stimuli. Fear conditioning, which is when a neutral stimulus acquires aversive properties, occurs within the right hemisphere. When an individual is presented with a conditioned, aversive stimulus, it is processed within the right amygdala, producing an unpleasant or fearful response. This emotional response conditions the individual to avoid fear-inducing stimuli.

The right hemisphere is also linked to declarative memory, which consists of facts and information from previously experienced events and must be consciously recalled. It also plays a significant role in the retention of episodic memory. Episodic memory consists of the autobiographical aspects of memory, permitting you to recall your personal emotional and sensory experience of an event.

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