Ragdoll Redeemed, Toxic Parenting

bigstock-Surreal-Cubist-Eyes-And-Faces-7736887_resizeOops! This week I posted an excerpt from my book, Ragdoll Redeemed out of sequence. When I realized my mistake, I immediately posted the two previous scheduled excerpts as a corrective measure. Hence, three posts this week.

As the following information relates to the title of my blog site, The Faces We Live (The PARTS of us or aspects of ourselves that often run our lives without our explicit permission) toxic parenting helps us to understand how we have become who we are today. Nevertheless, as I have stated elsewhere;

“The HOW of how we arrived at WHOM we are and WHAT we do with what we have become, is  ultimately up to us to accept, change or stop complaining about. It makes little difference whether we are burdened with conflicts, beliefs, old wounds, defenses, roles, shadow sides or counterproductive behaviors such as; care-taking, controlling, perfectionism, judging, binge-eating, alcohol abuse and just plain old idiosyncrasies. Regardless of how we arrived at these aspects of ourselves they are now solely ours to deal with one way or another.”

In 2009 New York Times published an article by Dr. Richard A. Friedman, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College entitled When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate. Here, in part is Dr. Friedman’s conclusion.

“Research on early attachment, both in humans and in nonhuman primates, shows that we are hard-wired for bonding — even to those who aren’t very nice to us.

We also know that although prolonged childhood trauma can be toxic to the brain, adults retain the ability later in life to rewire their brains by new experience, including therapy and psychotropic medication.

For example, prolonged stress can kill cells in the hippocampus, a brain area critical for memory. The good news is that adults are able to grow new neurons in this area in the course of normal development. Also, antidepressants encourage the development of new cells in the hippocampus.

It is no stretch, then, to say that having a toxic parent may be harmful to a child’s brain, let alone his feelings. But that damage need not be written in stone.

Of course, we cannot undo history with therapy. But we can help mend brains and minds by removing or reducing stress.

Sometimes, as drastic as it sounds, that means letting go of a toxic parent.”

If you are interested in this topic, Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward is a MUST read.


A version of this article appeared in print on October 20, 2009, on page D5 of the New York edition.


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