How emotional abuse affects the brain


    How emotional abuse affects the brain

  • 1 Stress might decrease the capacity for production of new neurons

    Some psychologists believe that stress can slow down the production of new neurons. Because emotional and physical abuse can result in a lot of stress, it can lead to that undesired effect.

  • 2 The primitive brain is triggered when it's not needed

    The primitive brain, the part of the brain responsible for anger fear and survival, is usually triggered in environments that are relatively safe. This happens because the abused person's brain always tries to search for possible danger.

  • 3 Sexual abuse might affect brain areas involved in genital sensation

    A study has found that sexual abuse can affect the way a woman's brain works, especially the area responsible for genital sensation. An abused woman might lose sexual desire or even experience pain during sexual activity because of the changes that happened to her brain.

  • 4 Some areas of the brain can be underdeveloped

    If a person suffered from abuse during their early childhood while the brain was at a critical stage of growth, certain areas might be underdeveloped. According to a study, the brain might keep the areas associated with the pain underdeveloped.

  • 5 Those people might become overly sensitive

    As the brains of those people keep scanning their environment for possible threats, those people become emotionally sensitive and more likely to get hurt.

  • 6 Decrease in connectivity of brain areas associated with abuse

    If a woman was sexually abused then the connections in the brain areas associated with sexual pleasure might be reduced. By doing so, the brain might be trying to protect the woman from experiencing further pain if she was sexually abused again.

  • 7 Increased limbic system sensitivity

    According to a study, the brains of abused children become more sensitive to external stimuli, as their limbic system is developed to become more sensitive.

  • 8 The rational part of the brain becomes less active

    Research has shown that for abused children the rational part of the brain might become less active and so an emotional response is more likely to be triggered through the limbic system before the prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for rationality, is engaged.

  • 9 Decreased hippocampal volume

    The hippocampus assists the transfer of initial information to the cortex which works to make sense of the information. Under the effect of repetitive stress, which happens through abuse, the hippocampus becomes less able to play that role and so an imaginary threat might seem like a real one.

  • 10 Underdevelopment of left brain

    Research has shown that children who were abused might have an under developed left brain.

  • 11 A smaller corpus callosum

    Research has found that abused children have a smaller corpus callosum, an area in the brain that connects the two hemispheres. A smaller corpus callosum might result in serious mood swings and changes in personality.

  • 12 Decrease production of thyroid hormone

    A study has found that neglect can decrease production of thyroid hormone. This can affect the body's metabolism in an undesired way.

  • 13 They are more likely to get stressed

    As the structure of the brain changes, abused children are more likely to get stressed.

  • 14 Their brains change like PTSD survivors

    Studies have shown that abuse can result in similar changes that happen to the brains of people who experienced PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

  • 15 Chronic stress can damage brain cells

    Studies have found that the stress hormones that are constantly released when a person keeps getting abused can cause some damage to the prefrontal cortex.