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Can your body store early medical trauma, even if you can't mentally recall it?

Discussion in 'Medical' started by T2L, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. T2L

    T2L Active Member

    I've been reading around here today and this section just makes me wonder... can a medical physical trauma on the body as an infant impact your development and contribute to some kind of PTSD responses? I was very premature, had very invasive surgeries from 2 days old, in the hospital almost until I was a year, then another major surgery around 1, multiple bouts of pneumonia and touch and go moments. There were and still are ongoing medical issues I've struggled with since then with 5 more related surgeries, but I was lucky compared to other premature babies. Luckily I don't remember any of that. I'm not afraid of doctors and I'm just like, "yep been here done that..." So much so that doctors and nurses look at me funny that I knowk medical lingo, want to watch procedures, etc. I know it impacted the relationship with my mother, our inability to bond, and her constant need to control every aspect of my life (food, water, medication, etc). There are questions between family members about inconsistent information provided to them during that time in my life. I've questioned a few things, but my mother would not provide an answer. I obtained the medical files she kept meticulously, but there are gaps the first few days in the hospital, things marked out, etc during the time I question things happening and what the surgeries were for. Unfortunately I tried to get copies directly from the hospital, but it was too late and the files were already destroyed. Can the body remember situations from early medical experiences that can be long lasting, even if mentally you could not recall? I'm just honestly curious about that kind of stored body memory (not a physical flashback).
    shimmerz, Anarchy, Ronin and 2 others like this.
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  3. TheBubzilla

    TheBubzilla Changing the world one smile at a time Premium Member Donated

    I follow a blog called Evolutionary Parenting which often discusses the impact of stress, trauma, carer responses and environments on young children, as well as the ongoing implications of those experiences through out the life cycle.

    You may find it of interest.
    Anarchy, Ronin, Sietz and 1 other person like this.
  4. Esterio

    Esterio Well-Known Member Donated

    Hi T2L
    There was a guy here last year that talk about surgeries he went though while an infant. It was before a curtain time maybe late 60's or 70's they were of the belief that infants didn't feel pain so the didn't use pain medications only parrallizing drugs so that the babies would not move. He told me lots about it that I don't remember. He did say he was finding others from back then. The mind does not remember but the body remembers. I will take a look back and see if I can find more info if you want
    me too.
    peace be safe
    shimmerz and Anarchy like this.
  5. TheBubzilla

    TheBubzilla Changing the world one smile at a time Premium Member Donated

    @T2L @Esterio I believe there is a book called "The Body Remembers - The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment". You may find that useful.

    I also like the book - 8 Keys to Trauma Recovery by Babette Rothschild.
  6. joeylittle

    joeylittle Donation drive til August 1, donate today Administrator Generous $250+

    I don't think there is conclusive evidence supporting this theory - but there's some evidence that points towards it, and there's a great deal of anecdotal material about it. So, the medical answer would be - maybe so, we don't know for sure.

    Helpful, I know :meh:

    It's a difficult topic to study. Almost anything on the development of the infant brain would be relevant.
    TheBubzilla, Anarchy and Esterio like this.
  7. grit

    grit Active Member

    I am not a medical doctor or any expert on anything but I would think the disruption to natural bonding with the mother and the mother's stress and fear toward the whole situation would elicit some sort of trauma.
    TheBubzilla likes this.
  8. Anarchy

    Anarchy I'm a VIP

    The Amygdala, the part of the limbic brain which learns to recognise patterns that suggest danger, and which triggers off the body's fear responses such as an adrenaline rushes, and the fight, flight, freeze, flop, faint... responses

    Is fully developed and begins functioning and learning at the beginning of the final trimester of gestation.

    So, yes, very early traumas do have a very profound effect.

    The amygdala is not under conscious control, and it's not very intelligent, as it is optimised for speed of response. You don't need to have been old enough to have conscious memories to have been traumatised

    @Esterio is correct. Almost until the present day, it has been assumed that new born infants cannot feel pain. The idea was derived from some of descartes' philosophising.
    It was also supported by the response of very young infants to trauma. They can neither fight nor escape, so they dissociate. It's an instinctive response that is believed to be to fool and attacker or a predator into believing that a killing blow or killing bite is not necessary

    It's interesting that American research into things like the sleeping patterns of newborns showed gender differences in the proportion of non REM sleep.
    Similar research in Europe didn't show gender differences
    The American researchers had failed to control for the males in their studies having had their genitals mutilated without pain control!

    Newborn infants need contact

    The contact is actually vitally necessary until probably about 5 years old.

    An American researcher called Spitz, studied infants in orphanagesmall in Mexico, in the 1940s.

    The infants were well enough fed, and kept warm and clean. However there was next to no holding cuddling etc.
    They failed to thrive and most were dead before about about age 3 years.

    The same appears to be true of infants in incubators.
    There are much better survival rates where parents are allowed to hold and comfort the tiny infant
    Compared to when they are prevented from doing so by officious medical and nursing staff.

    One of the main researchers into "attachment theory" was a wonderful gentleman called John Bowlby
    He and his colleagues workers studied children who underwent separation from their mothers
    For example British child evacuees during the war, children being taken into orphanages or long term hospitalization.
    They studied such examples, because these were events that could not be later denied, minimised or covered up by parents.

    Bowlby published extensively, and is well worth reading.
    Researchers into trauma, for example Bessel van der Kolk draw upon and cite Bowlby's work.

    Hope that these leads help
    Esterio, joeylittle and somerandomguy like this.
  9. shimmerz

    shimmerz My silence spoke a thousand words you never heard Premium Member

    Yep. I was much more mature than you were. I was 4 days old. :wideeyed:

    I agree with all that @Anarchy has mentioned. I will add as well a link here to something called the defense cascade.

    Fascinating read. Especially when you are me and all the sudden one day (after a later life trauma) just start passing out hundreds of times a day or better still go comatose-like for 5 days straight. Chronically.

    When I finally found a trauma doctor he knew exactly what stage in life my trauma occurred because of my physical symptoms. Meaning the comatose like behaviour. He said when infants are traumatized they cannot get away so they leave their body (dissociate). He posited that I had been deeply traumatized during infanthood and most likely had had a near death experience.

    I laughed at him. 'Nothing wrong with my childhood' I said. *Rolls Eyes at Myself*
    Oh, the innocence of delusion-ed and traumatized folk who have no idea how trauma HAS to effect the body.
    Anyway, I was operated on, sent to a million foster homes, adopted, abused and you know - I knew nothing about the fostering and the shape I was in when I was adopted. Froze solid if the front door opened, screamed like I was dying if someone attempted to change my clothes, 'slept' for days at a time - no adult questioned it nor brought my attention to the fact that it really wasn't normal behaviour. And what did I know?

    Anyway, I think what I am trying to say from a heart centred place is that I have felt and responded to that operation over and over again in my dreams, through flashbacks, fainting, flopping, freezing, you name it. Whether science acknowledges it or not yet. And why would they when this 'Surprising Study' comes out in 2015 I think it was. It disgusts me.
    Surprising Study Finds That Babies Feel Pain Like Adults

    What surprises me is that this really hasn't been studied. Why not? And if it hasn't been studied then they sure as hell aren't going to have a proper theory on it are they? Assholes.

    I had NO awareness that I had any problems until the age of 45. Then.... WHAM. Life was over as I knew it. The body was telling me that I had to deal with some shit and it wasn't going to let me get away with not attending to it. That is when the flashbacks started. Preverbal stuff. Stuff that didn't make any sense. Took me years to figure out what it all meant. And I learned that by watching my body as it slipped from one state to another. There were clues and those clues weren't in my brain so much as they were in my turned in right foot (for example) and thinking 'goddammit, I have regressed again!' Your body really does know the score.

    Find a great therapist if you don't have one already, put on your seatbelt, keep those references that @Anarchy gave you, cause you may be in for a ride.

    My deepest sympathies to you. As well, my apologies for rambling while I was venting.
    somerandomguy, Anarchy and Esterio like this.
  10. T2L

    T2L Active Member

    Wow, such great responses! I haven't had an opportunity to read everything or the links, but I find this area fascinating and not just because it personally impacted me. I'l respond more later once I digest this. I appreciate the responses!
  11. hithere

    hithere Well-Known Member

    I do believe the answer is yes. I know for a fact i have (had because I just healed of a lot of it) deep abandonment / neglect from infancy. that fear, that need, and never getting any response... rejection... it's like experiencing the depth of the abyss. So I worked hard on it, and I have recovered from that. recovery hurt like hell though... somatic therapies that use touch supposedly help heal those infancy wounds such as hospitalizationa and surgeries. Body Keeps the Score and Jay Early's book "Self Therapy" address this topic.
    Anarchy, shimmerz and Esterio like this.
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