This post is part two of a series, which begins here: Preventing Our Children From Developing Demons (And Healing Our Own), in which I look at the ideas outlined in the book, Healing Developmental Trauma by Laurence Helller, PhD and Aline LaPierre, PsyD.
The writers outline Five Core Needs that babies are born with and biologically are built to have satisfied. From these we develop Five Capabilities Essential to Wellbeing or we develop combinations of one or more of the Five Survival Styles with their associated Five Core Difficulties. From these I have extrapolated Five Key Tasks of Parenting, which we can use, as best we can, to ensure our children develop according to their biological expectations or which we can use to identify ways that we can help our children, after things haven’t gone according to the biological plan.
For the record, I am far from being the perfect parent. It was my awareness that the results we were seeing in our oldest son, by 18 months of age, were not what I expected that made me begin my investigations into the human state. I am here to share information, not judge anyone.
There are many reasons why parents don’t parent their children according to biological expectation: we have our own unidentified demons that nonconsciously drive us; we have a partner with whom we are compromising; we follow bad advice; we have life-circumstances which are less than ideal, according to biology, with which we have to work, (I’m thinking of the pressures of modern information-age life here); we live in a war-zone or during a famine or some other external stress state from which we cannot immediately escape. All of these factors are likely to impact on the parenting our children receive or the parenting we received. (Acknowledging that most parents to the best they can and have no conscious idea of the full impact their decisions are having on their children.)
Each of the Five Core Needs builds on the degree the previous Core Need has been met. So, if the first is not adequately satisfied it is more difficult for the latter ones to be satisfied and so on. This seems more sensible when we realise just how much of our biology depends on external input in order to develop according to biological ideal, or close to the biological ideal. A massive 85% of our brains is unconnected at birth – the formation of the other connections happens when biology and environment meet. (Birth temperament does play a part and I cover this in my book: WHY PEOPLE DRIVE YOU CRAZY, interestingly the pre-birth environment is also implicated in greater detail in Healing Developmental Trauma than anywhere else I have seen.) Everything from our inclination to smoke, booze, or do drugs, to our ability to choose an appropriate long-term partner, to our susceptibility to illness, to everything in between depends our our Five Core Needs being met or almost met. Our life experiences can, and do, affect the satisfaction of our Core Needs, which explains why many people who struggle to find a great mate and look after their health, often do so after a certain amount of life-experience has changed them, say in their 40s, 50s or even later.
I’ll go into each of the Five Core Needs and the associated bits in detail over the next few months, but for now here is a basic outline. (The book goes into greater detail again, so if you’re interested in what I’m sharing it’s certainly worth the coverprice.)
1. Connection: A. How well we are connected to our bodily sensations. B. How well we are connected to others.
2. Attunement: A. How attuned we are to our own needs and how easily we label the sensations in our bodies as the correct emotional state. (This is where Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence comes in.) B. How capable we are at recognising, reaching out and taking in physical and emotional nourishment.
3. Trust: Healthy dependence and healthy interdependence.
4. Autonomy: A. Our ability to set appropriate boundaries. B. Our ability to say, No, and set limits. C. Our ability to speak our mind without experiencing guilt or fear.
5. Love-Sexuality: A. Our ability to live with an open heart. B. Our ability to integrate a loving relationship with a vital sexuality.
I can identify with missing aspects of all five Core Needs, but have realised I am dominated by two of them in particular. The great thing, of course, is how adaptable the human brain is – this approach (NARM) and information really does make it possible for those of us with minor-sih developmental or shock (broken bones etc) trauma to self-heal our wounds. People who have experienced major trauma will probably need the help of an NARM trained therapist to work through all these in a safe way. The best news is: there is hope for everyone.
As Heller and LaPierre say, “There is a spontaneous movement in all of us toward connection, health, and aliveness. No matter how withdrawn and isolated we have become, or how serious the trauma we have experienced, on the deepest level, just as a plant spontaneously moves toward the sunlight, there is in all of us an impulse to moving toward connection and healing. This impulse is the fuel of the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM)”
The appeal I find in NARM is the way it works by acknowledging our past, but not focussing on it. It works with top-down (our conscious/mind/ego) understanding and simultaneously bottom-up with recognising and acknowledging our physical sensations. It works on developing our strengths not hammering our weaknesses.
I’m excited. Can you tell?
PS I’ve put the tantrum book on hold until I am certain I have covered all I need to from this book…!