Infant SA and my self worth

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Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
I want to stop believing that my specific trauma exempts me from having self worth.

Here is the negative thought loop: When I asked for help as an infant my father sexually abused me sometimes. That early treatment along with his physical abuse and emotional manipulation (and my mother’s enabling him) in the rest of my childhood altered my polyvagal nerve so that I stopped seeking care and my self worth disappeared.

It might be better if I told myself that my self-worth was kept sacred and whole beneath the fragmentation, waiting for me to recognize and own it. But my feeling experience is that I have little to no sustainable access to it. Or that thinking myself unworthy wins out almost all the time.
 

Friday

Moderator
It might be better if I told myself that my self-worth was kept sacred and whole beneath the fragmentation, waiting for me to recognize and own it.

Also, since the 1994 polyvagal theory never had any direct evidence, was always just a theory, and has been completely disproven...

(across several fronts & specialities; evolutionary biology, cardiology, physiological psychology, autonomic neuroscience, just to name a few that I can easily grab the published papers on)

...it might be wise not to resign yourself to a fate based on incorrect science? :woot:

( :inlove: I looooove sharing good news! :inlove: )

Take THAT thought-loop!!! :D Just TRY to tell @Searching4Self her vagal nerve makes self worth impossible, when it doesn’t do ANY of what it was hypothesized it might do.
 
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Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
In addition to recognizing and owning your self worth, you can know that your self worth can grow as we give it more warmth, attention, and love.
 

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
your self worth can grow as we give it more warmth, attention, and love.
.

I appreciate this sentiment as it encourages social interaction and staying in relationships, however I have to be cautious about thinking of my self worth as growing or else I get into a mental trap over whether or not I am behaving correctly to receive enough warmth, attention, and love. Instead, right now I have to believe that it is whole and complete and I just have difficulty fully accessing it.

Maybe the more warmth, attention, and love I receive from others the more I can access my self worth. So the effect feels like growing my self worth, but in reality, it was already mine from the start. This helps me feel like I am able to claim my worth if only I can get below my fears that I wear as a protective cloak, like a shell at times, and encourages me to be brave with reaching out.

The unworthy feelings, the lack of worth is... his that he has left with you.

I believe you are right. However my experience feels like those are my thoughts. I try very hard to get him out of my head. He was/is such a narcissist, he never felt below anyone else in his life, believed his needs came above all others’. I have heard it said that narcissists actually have low self esteem, but the experience of living with them does not give any evidence that they feel lack of worth. They damage everyone around them because they have no sense of shame—only anger, indifference, jealousy, desire, etc.
 

void

MyPTSD Pro
@Friday ?
Ty for your post.
May I ask you for links/articles that explain why Polyvagal Theory is false?
I am not disputing your claim, btw, I just desire to learn more about the topic.
 

Friday

Moderator
@void... Absolutely! :D

The easiest way would be to follow the research project of Professor Paul Grossman, PhD. (Research Director Emeritus, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.) at ResearchGate

Dead Link Removed,

...as he’s compiled 69 relevant studies across several disciplines in one place (why oh why hadn’t he done this while I was still in school? :banghead: our group only had to find 20 supporting / conflicting studies and it took us ages in the peer review database - the class was examining popularly accepted theories science had already proven wrong), as well as an overview, and links to an ongoing dialogue with scientists and researchers around the globe, looking for any support -or contradiction- of the theory. He gets noticeably crankier as the years go by (which I suppose is fair, we got crankier as the weeks went by!) on the casual dialogue side of things, although his compliations still maintain professional academic standards. There’s a lot more out there, of course, but his thoroughness & discretion is impressive.

***

One thing to keep in mind, too, is that back in the 80s & 90s we had nooooooo clue how incrediably plastic & self-repairing the CNS really is. Especially with children. We still don’t know the extent of it, it’s so huge. So a lot of the theories about the effects of trauma on the brain (both physical and psychological) from back then began with the premise that any damage done was permenant. This is not the case, even with adults, neural pathways can be reformed, and children’s brains are so durn plastic you can remove half of it and the brain simply reorganises itself :eek: So cool, right??? Same token, we’re finding more and more that instead of discrete areas of the brain being solely responsible for any one thing (like memory in the hippocampus, or fear in the amygdala, or balance in the cerebellum ) actually those process are diversely spread out across nearly all areas of the brain. Visual memory here in the visual cortex, for sure makes sense, but also scattered visual memories... everywhere. So when you’ve got bad premises to start... (This area of the brain controls this, and if damaged, the results are permenant)... the theories that are based off those premises? Aren’t going to hold water the vast majority of the time. Which is what the vast majority of studies have been, and are, proving. Not even attempting to disprove past theories, simply finding that what we thought controlled this and that? Either doesn’t, or is only a small component.

The example given time after time in neuroscience is that studying the brain is like attempting to understand what makes a car work, without opening the hood. It makes completely logical sense to believe it’s the exhaust pipe is providing the force necessary to propel the vehicle along (like a boat). We can see it, after all, and see the clouds of chemicals it produces when a car is moving. (And equally logical to assume that the chemical makeup of the exhaust is necessary, in some way, to provide that force. The car is moving when those chemicals are there, after all. And if we plug up the exhaust to prevent those chemicals escaping? The car won’t stop right away, but it will stop sooner or later, in various ways depending on the vehicle. So it kind of sorta works, but we really don’t grok why stopping the exhaust slows or stops the car). It’s only later, as we understand more, that we find that exhaust are waste products of some process we don’t understand, and that the force put out by the exhaust isn’t enough to move anything. It was a good theory, that cars move like boats, it was just wrong.
 
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Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
Very interesting link @Friday. The criticisms seem focused on technicalities within the premises. One criticism focuses on Porges’ assertion that the specific functions in the vagus are unique to mammals—Grossman provides evidence that they are present in reptiles and fish too. Another criticism is leveled at the way Porges describes the evolution of the vagal complex, which evolutionary physiologists dispute. Another criticism disputes the role of the dorsal motor nucleus in brachycardia. Grossman argues that if Porges is wrong on these details (and other technicalities related to nerve cell function) then the whole theory collapses.

In the comments a CBT practitioner from Argentina asks if there is anything salvageable in the theory. I think Grossman’s response is helpful. He says that the idea that the physical state of the body can affect emotions unconsciously is an idea that predates the birth of both himself and Porges. I guess what made the polyvagal theory so enticing was that it connected a wide range of behaviors (attachment) with a very specific body part.

I didn’t see Grossman arguing about the plasticity of the brain or whether or not trauma could cause permanent changes, only that the details in the premises of the polyvagal theory were wrong so therefore it could not stand logically.

To me that sounds like there is still evidence that the body’s stress response can be affecting emotions unconsciously, but it can’t be explained so simply.

Simple explanations can easily become simple excuses, I now see. My traumas might be a big part of the reason my self-worth suffers but writing it off as damaged vagus hurts me by closing off my creative ability to work through my issues, my neuroplasticity.

Diagnoses are double-edged of course. If they are used as an excuse they become disabling. Doesn’t mean I’m not gonna wail about my condition sometimes in baby tantrums, but I must always come back to a place of openness and creativity in order to continue my healing.

It’s funny because the polyvagal theory seemed so comforting when I first learned about it! I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about it. Recently the parent of an autistic child told me that his behavior was from polyvagal nerve damage as an orphaned infant. There is no doubt that infant trauma can affect people, but how and why it affects some more than others is not so straightforward. Thanks for helping me get back to a place of “not knowing”!
 

Friday

Moderator
The criticisms seem focused on technicalities within the premises
Yep. That’s how good science debunks bad science (or disproves working or accepted theories) 99% of the time... no one is LOOKING to debunk something, but countless results of completely unrelated studies keep finding the same information over and over.
In the comments a CBT practitioner from Argentina asks if there is anything salvageable in the theory. I think Grossman’s response is helpful. He says that the idea that the physical state of the body can affect emotions unconsciously is an idea that predates the birth of both himself and Porges. I guess what made the polyvagal theory so enticing was that it connected a wide range of behaviors (attachment) with a very specific body part.
Very much so. Polyvagal theory is a lot like Freud. It was huge in the field (because it really got people thinking about the physiological aspect of psych... and opened countless doors, avenues of research still very much underway, etc.). That it’s been proven wrong in no way changes the ginormous impact is has had, and continues to have. That’s one of the exciting things about science, not only how much we learn from our mistakes, but how what may be wrong -individually- allows for questions to be asked that get us closer to “right” answers.

Unfortunately, on an interpersonal level, incorrect theories can cause a lot of heartbreak/tragedy. The OP thought-loop is a great example of that. Thinking that damage done as an infant means that there is no way to come to have self worth today, because the structure itself that allows for it is damaged / irreparable. Other great examples would be lobotomies, electroshock therapy, pretty much the entire field of “behavioral psych” (not cognitive-behavioral, totally different thing).

I didn’t see Grossman arguing about the plasticity of the brain or whether or not trauma could cause permanent changes, only that the details in the premises of the polyvagal theory were wrong so therefore it could not stand logically.
That’s because it basic / 101 neuroscience. It would be like explaining how germs make you sick isn’t necessary when discussing epidemiology. It’s so accepted it’s cannon. But cannon in medicine doesn’t mean it’s well known -yet- out in the world. A lot of lay-people who went to school in the 80s still think that the brain can’t / doesn’t heal, and neuroplasticity is a new word.

Nor does it mean that we fully understand it, or that it will still BE cannon in 20 years!

On a personal level, I always feel bad 60-second-shakespearing 101 type stuff. On the one hand, it can seem really condescending/arrogant if Dude. Duh. Hello. I already know this! ...But on the other hand? ***I*** never heard about ANY of this stuff until I went to school for it. So what if someone else hasn’t heard it??? :eek: (overshare mode activated). And I’m a big geek. So I get all excited :woot: and start going off sharing shit I think is super fun awesome cool. :bag:

Either way I end up feeling bad about it, so it’s kind of a win/win. (Since I’m going to feel bad, either way, might as well go the “I Just want to grab people on the street and shake them, saying, Have you HEARD this???” big geek route.)

To me that sounds like there is still evidence that the body’s stress response can be affecting emotions unconsciously, but it can’t be explained so simply.

Exactly.

In point of fact, that’s current accepted theory & the foundation of Physiological Psychology
>>> If it’s physiological? It’s psychological. If it’s psychological? It’s physiological.

Physiological = Psychological.
 
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