Lesson 1 of 7  - free your true Self to guide you

Abuse Changes Brains
of Suicide Victims

By Maggie Fox - Health and
Science Editor, Reuters News

Published in Yahoo Science News, 5-6-08

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/gwc/news/abuse-suicide.htm

Updated  01-23-2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

      This research summary supports four basic premises in this educational Web site:

  • Low-nurturance childhoods - characterized by child abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma) - hinder normal brain development, and often cause psychological wounds in young kids which they usually bring into adolescence and adulthood.

  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts probably indicate early-childhood trauma;

  • (Without appropriate intervention), the psychological effects of childhood abuse and neglect may pass down the generations, and...

  • Skilled psychotherapy causes brain and behavioral changes.

See my further comments after the summary. The links and hilights below are mine. - Peter Gerlach, MSW,

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Suicide victims who were abused as children have clear genetic changes in their brains, Canadian researchers reported on Tuesday in a finding they said shows neglect can cause biological effects.

The findings offer potential ways to find people at high risk of suicide, and perhaps to treat them and prevent future suicides.

And, the researchers said, they also offer insights into how neglect and abuse can perpetuate unhealthy behavior through the generations.

Moshe Szyf of McGill University in Montreal and colleagues studied the brains of 18 men who committed suicide and who were also abused or neglected as children, and compared them to 12 men who also died suddenly but from other causes, and who were not abused, although some had various psych-iatric problems such as anxiety disorders.

They found changes in the genetic material of all 18 suicide victims. The changes were not in the genes themselves, but in the ribosomal RNA, which is the genetic material that makes proteins that in turn make cells function.

These changes involved a chemical process called methylation, a so-called epigenetic change involving the processes of turning genes on and off, they reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, available at http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002085.

"The big remaining questions are whether scientists could detect similar changes in blood DNA -- which could lead to diagnostic tests -- and whether we could design interventions to erase these differences in epigenetic markings," Szyf said in a statement.

Dr. Eric Nestler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas said both drugs and psychotherapy may act to reverse some of these changes.


"Ultimately we believe that a person who gets better from psychotherapy is inducing changes in the brain," Nestler Told reporters at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington where similar research was discussed.

Szyf's colleague, Michael Meaney, has shown in animals that parental abuse and neglect can affect the brains and behavior of offspring.

He has studied the brains of rats, for whom parental care can be demonstrated in how much the mother grooms her pups.

"You can put two rats on a table and tell which one is raised by a low-licking mother. The one reared by a low-licking mother is more nervous, and fatter," Meaney said in an inter-view at the Psychiatric Association meeting.

Images of the brain cells of the rats show the brain cells of low-licking mothers have fewer dendrites. These are the strands that help one neuron communicate with another.

Meaney, who also worked on the suicide study, said the research, taken together, demonstrates how early experiences can cause physical changes in the brain.

He said female rats reared by low-licking mothers reached puberty earlier, meaning they had more offspring.

Similar findings are true of humans, who often have children at younger ages when times are stressful. The best way to pass along genes in uncertain times is to have more children, he said.

(Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Sandra Maler)

Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Copyright 2008 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

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      Based on 36 years' professional research, this nonprofit Web site invites visitors to admit and break the toxic cycle of inherited psychological wounds and unawareness.  The report above supports several key concepts in this unacknowledged cycle - i.e. that (a) childhood abuse and neglect inhibits young brain development, and (b) skilled psychotherapy can reduce these toxic effects in some people.

      Many mental-health researchers have suggested that human personalities are caused by dynamic "subselves" or "subpersonalities." PET scans confirm that (a) different brain regions have different functions, and (b) can respond to sensory information concurrently, like a network of specialized computers. In this Web site, these specialized brain regions are called personality subselves.

      This McGill University research suggests that childhood abuse and neglect affects the development of brain regions (i.e. of personality subselves), which later promote suicidal thoughts and actions in some survivors [Grown Wounded Children (GWCs)].

      The research doesn't suggest that early neglect (ineffective parenting) causes psychological wounds that promote most "mental health," relationship, and social problems. This Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE summary doesn't directly suggest any implications of the study's findings, or propose any solutions.

      Lesson 1 in this Web site does. Much more research in the long-term personal, family, and social effects of premature child conception and ineffective parenting is urgently needed.

- Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

      For more perspective, see these similar research summaries

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