Posts Tagged ‘child abuse’

Stress and Parenting (4)

Friday, January 14th, 2011

The article about the Chinese “Tiger Mother” (described in the last three posts) reminded me of another issue of key importance for the 55% of my stress illness patients who have survived dysfunctional childhood environments.  Often they struggle to perceive accurately the long-term impact of this experience.  There are a couple of reasons for this, most simply that they have no parallel life to contrast with their own experience.  More subtly, part of surviving a difficult environment involves suppressing your emotional reaction to what is happening.  When this is done repeatedly, in later years it becomes difficult to look back and accurately perceive what took place.


Stress and Parenting (3)

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Continuing the comment from the last post about the article Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.  Another concern I have about the author’s parenting choices is the absence of any perspective on the limitations it places on her own life.  The approach to her daughters is tremendously demanding of time and emotional energy.  Of course she has every right to allocate these resources as she thinks best, but giving a little more time to her career, husband or other interests is not considered.


Stress and Parenting (2)

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Continuing the comment from the last post about Amy Chua’s article in the Wall Street Journal titled Why Chinese Mothers are Superior. To achieve goals the author has for her daughters, she imposes high levels of pressure and coercion.  There is a significant risk that this will result in long term damage to their self-esteem.  This damage is the common denominator in my patients whose symptoms are linked to their childhood experience.


Stress and Parenting (1)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

An article making the rounds of my social network, titled Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, was published January 8, 2011 in the Wall Street Journal.  The subheading is “Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games, and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?”  The author, Amy Chua, was born soon after her Chinese parents arrived in the U.S.  She is a professor at Yale Law School and the article is excerpted from her forthcoming book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  The article has generated over 2500 comments in three days.


Linking Stresses and Symptoms (2)

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

The biggest shock of my medical education was learning that stress in childhood could make an adult physically ill.  Symptoms may be mild or can be so severe that hospital treatment is needed.  (I cared for one 35 year old childhood stress survivor in the hospital for 77 days.  It took five years, but she is now entirely well.)


Adults who had Stress in Childhood (3)

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Adult patients seen by primary care medical clinicians often are affected by stress in childhood.  Recent evidence of this is a study of 380 women at a medical clinic at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland *.  Their survey asked about physical or sexual childhood abuse and assessed the impact of these on physical symptoms.


The Stress History

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Negative life events that persist for more than a short time sometimes can cause physical symptoms.  We can divide the wide range of issues that can do this into five major categories, which simplifies the diagnostic process considerably.  In evaluating medically unexplained symptoms, I inquire into each category in a process called taking the Stress History.  I do this after having acquired a clear chronology of the patient’s illness.  I know when and where symptoms began and their pattern over time.  This often enables me to find links between symptoms and stresses.  For example, I often ask if anything stressful occurred just prior to the onset of the illness.  When I find these connections in timing, it increases the likelihood that the stress is responsible for the symptom.