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This research summary supports four basic premises in this
educational Web site:
childhoods - characterized by
and abuse (trauma) -
hinder normal brain development, and often cause psychological
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
Skilled psychotherapy causes brain and
See my further comments after the summary. The links and hilights below
are mine. - Peter Gerlach, MSW,
+ + +
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
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
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
"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.
CHANGING THE BRAIN
"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
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.
+ + +
36 years' professional research,
this nonprofit Web site invites
visitors to admit and
of inherited psychological
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
these toxic effects in some people.
Many mental-health researchers have
suggested that human personalities are caused by dynamic "subselves" or
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
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
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
of the study's findings, or propose any solutions.
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
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