I know I better write a post right now before I head out to do some serious adobe work in my garden today because if I don’t track the process of my thinking at this moment I know I will soon make such a quantum leap in what I know about myself, my trauma altered development that happened because of the severe infant-child abuse I experienced, dissociation and my language development that I will never be able to go back and track how my conclusions about the connections between all these vitally important topics actually arrived.

As I ‘play around with’ the experiences I had last week with the medical clinic, and as I anticipate the medically-related appointments that I am going to have to go through in the near future, and as I sift through the facts of MY experience to gain information about what happened last week I am finding myself headed straight for some amazing discoveries.


Much of what I experience as dissociation when I am engaged in a stressful situation with people who actually escalate my stress response rather than sooth it — dissociation that includes an inability to hear spoken language, to process verbal information or to even THINK in words (the blank state) — is directly related to the way my physiological development was affected by severe trauma from birth.

The trauma that matters most to me as I consider the consequences of it that I live with DAILY at age 59 happened from birth to age two.  I have focused much of my writing so far on this blog on the critically important right-limbic-social-emotional brain development that happens directly through early attachment relationships with caregivers.

I have to move forward now in my thinking to age two.

While there are specific developmental stages and milestones that happen during this second year of life, the one I want to look at right now has to do with the continuation of the development of LANGUAGE.

An infant begins its breathing life with the ability to send and receive signals in the form of PREVERBAL communication.  All ‘attachment’ interactions with early caregivers happen on the level (from the infant’s point of view) of this PREVERBAL communication.

An infant’s caregiver is also using NONVERBAL and VERBAL communication signals with the infant.  As the infant’s body-nervous system-brain grows and develops, its physiology has been built by the PATTERNS of the earliest (attachment) interactions.  These patterns literally tell the DNA and the cells of the infant’s body WHAT TO DO.


As an infant moves toward the acquisition of WORDS and the ability to understand and use them, it uses ALL the patterns that have been built into it as ‘traffic flow channels’ for its growing abilities to communicate.

If everything the infant has experienced has happened in an extremely traumatic, abusive, neglectful environment of malevolence, chaos, unpredictability and NONEXISTENT contact between the infant’s SELF and its caregiver, the infant’s ENTIRE REPERTOIRE INVOLVING VERBAL LANGUAGE HAS ALREADY BEEN SENT DOWN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PATHWAY than the kind a safely and securely attached infant’s has.


‘Ordinary people’ are familiar with part of what I wish to describe if they think about trying to communicate with a police official after a serious car accident, or if they think about how words failed them in an important interview, or failed them at the moment they received a cancer diagnosis.

This tells me that the ‘dissociatable’ regions of the human brain that can separate emotional experience from verbal articulation (both spoken and in thinking abilities) is perfectly POSSIBLE for everyone.

What happens to me is that I experience these changes in how words include themselves in my ongoing experience at times that ‘ordinary people’ would NEVER experience.  That is the difference between how I operate and how they do — not that ‘I dissociate words from my experience’ and they do not.


Researchers know that a ‘bad mother rat’ is a nervous, over amped-stress response rat who will NOT LICK HER OFFSPRING like a safely and securely NON stressed mother rat will.

Researchers also know that if they switch offspring between a high licking rat mother and a low licking mother (meaning highly stressed and nonstressed), the offspring RAISED by either of these types of mothers will build into their developing physiology the corresponding high or low stress level responses.

Researchers now know that the degree of stressed-out response in the offspring is NOT due to genetics.  It is due to the ability an offspring’s body has to alter its physiological development in direct response to the nature of the environment is is formed by and in.

In human terms we can translate this very basic fact into what happens to infants raised in secure, safe, loving, appropriate, adequate MOTHER-early caregiving environments versus those who are raised in opposite conditions.

Severe infant abuse and neglect constitutes a LOW LICKING environment — which is the same as a HIGH STRESS environment.


The stages of preverbal to nonverbal to verbal development are directly affected by the level of stress and trauma present or absent from an infant’s universe during its most critical windows of early physiological development.


Now, to switch thinking tracks:  There are language development experts who look back over the word-utilizing history of the human species who see in our verbal-language development a pattern that suggests the following.

Many other living creatures (bats and primates included) have the same gene that humans eventually made use of to develop our ability to TALK.

This is the FOXP2 gene.

Researchers believe that it was ONLY about 140,000 years ago that this gene was activated in humans so that it could directly alter the development of our brain AND OUR LARYNX so that we could begin to talk.

All the interactions that mother’s have with their offspring are part of how this ability evolves in all of us now as they are directly tied to the development of our infant body-brain in our earliest attachment caregiving universe.

Some researchers also believe that once the world became benign enough that more early humans had safety and security to spend more time sitting around socializing with one another — which amounts to GROOMING BEHAVIOR in both primates and rats.

The quality of grooming behavior in both primates and rats is used as a measurement of HIGH and LOW stress.

It is evidently very possible that humans began to utilize their FOXP2 gene simply to expand their ability to sooth, bond and communicate with one another — researchers refer to this in humans as GOSSIP — with spoken language as an advancement over gesture that could then include more people within the circle of communicative signaling — or GOSSIP.


Human infants, as they interact with their earliest caregivers, are engaged in a mutual dance of signaling communication — sending and receiving — with their caregivers.  In abusive, neglectful, traumatic and malevolent early infant environments, the signaling DOES NOT GO ACCORDING TO OPTIMAL PLAN.

The infant’s language-communication-signaling patterns are therefore correspondingly altered within its physiological body-brain development.


Use of signaling in patterns of listening and responding (rupture and repair) in ‘healthy’ early attachment environments are tied to the development of emotional regulation abilities in an infant’s growing right-emotional-limbic brain AT THE SAME TIME that this same brain region is also developing its SOCIAL-emotional patterns.

Because I was abused and traumatized from birth I did not participate in ‘normal or ordinary’ preverbal or nonverbal communication patterns with my caregivers.  There was no possible way that my physiology could pattern itself AS IF I had magically grown them in a safe, secure, optimal or even adequate environment.


I therefore suggest that for every single person who has been given the so-called ‘mentally ill diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder’ and that KNOWS that something was NOT OK in their early infant-caregiver interactions that DISSOCIATION as it includes the component of verbal communication with others and within our self in our thoughts HAS BEEN CHANGED right along with all our other Trauma Altered Development.

What happened to me the other day at the medical clinic has also highlighted a critically important point to me:  When I was born nobody gave a single solitary HOOT about what I needed.  They didn’t respond to me as if I existed as a human being at all.  Because all my patterns of communication included patterns of abuse and trauma, I DID NOT DEVELOP A RIGHT BRAIN THAT INCLUDES ‘NORMAL OR ORDINARY’ use of preverbal and nonverbal social-emotional cuing.

What this means to me when push comes to shove NOW is that — as a component of my nonattachment reality tied to the so-called insecure Reactive Attachment Disorder or Disorganized-Disoriented attachment disorder — is that not only can I NOT include ‘normal’ nonverbal social communication cues in MY communication to others, I cannot read the ones they send to me, either.

In the end — I DO NOT CARE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.  That level of signaling caring was NOT built into my infant (birth to 2) physiology during my precursory stages of verbal language ability.

Nobody cared about ME so very realistically, how could CARING possibly have been included in my language acquisition physiological patterning?  (This is part of the ’empathy disorder’ Dr. Allan Schore describes as a component of all insecure attachment disorders within the 45% of our population that has some version of one.)

Because the ability to include EMOTIONALLY relevant information and to read its signals and clues was not a part of my preverbal-nonverbal-verbal physiological development, the bottom line TO ME is that I am excluded from the highly developed human social specie’s GROOMING and GOSSIPING behavior.  I was not born into an environment that included me as a PART OF THE GROUP to be safely and securely attached to and within.

The solitary confinement and isolation I experienced due to my mother’s abuse continued to one degree or another to profoundly affect me through my entire 18 year childhood.  (No play included.)


Language – spoken and nonverbal — not only does not work the same in my body-brain, it does not mean the same to me as it no doubt does to ‘ordinary people’, either.

Although I obviously am able to understand words themselves, I do not believe that my language abilities are wired into me in anything like a normal way when it comes to interactions with members of my species.  And who the hell else would CARE if I could talk or not?

I am an excluded-from-ordinary person, and my latest clarity of discovery is that THIS is perhaps one of the MOST IMPORTANT consequences of being raised from birth so that my development was physiologically patterned in and by trauma.

I am excluded from being truly attached in my lifetime to members of my species who developed normal and ordinary language abilities.

This does leave me to wonder if I could learn more about how I am in the world by coming to understand how language develops in people who are blind and/or deaf from birth (and Autism-spectrum brain holders).  These people also would have to move through the preverbal-nonverbal-verbal developmental stages differently.

But even here, it would only be those who were NOT LOVED or treated kindly in safe and secure attachment earliest caregiving infant environments that would have experienced the kind of base-line, bottom-up truly altered right-limbic-emotional-social-preverbal brain development that I did.


So when my stress response is activated like it was at the clinic last week, other people can feel extremely threatened and defensive around me and interaction with me because we are from completely different worlds when it comes to the use of words.

Words are simply a tool to me — to be used as a tool to accomplish an end.  I was not built with words included in my development to be primarily about exchanges involving emotion between people that belong to and in a human group (involving degrees of social bonding).

I believe the more I clarity I can gain about this topic the more I might be able (if I am willing) to NOT move very quickly between using words as TOOLS and using these TOOLS as weapons.  This means to me that words are OBJECTS to me — and I suspect this happens for me on very deep, profound, fundamental levels of my Trauma Altered physiology.

I tried to explain to the doctor at the clinic that all stress has to be deescalated in that environment for me to begin to understand verbal exchange.  I also know that written words are ACTUALLY my primary language.

Social-emotional spoken language exchange, with its normal roots in preverbal and nonverbal language development, IS NOT MY FIRST OR MY PRIMARY LANGUAGE.

If this fact is true for many people with the a so-called ‘anxiety-dissociation diagnosis of mental illness’ — what I am saying is IN HIGH NEED OF SCIENTIFIC VALIDATION.

If what I am discovering about myself as a survivor of extreme early and long-term infant-child abuse is correct, much of the ‘mystery’ and therefore of the social stigma based on misunderstanding about DISSOCIATION can be traced back to Trauma Altered Development as it affected our ability to communicate with others of our species AND MOST IMPORTANTLY in verbal cognition-verbal thought WITHIN OUR OWN SELF.

When I ‘go blank’ during ‘dissociation’ I have followed back a track of development in my physiology that moves far more quickly to a place where words do not exist in information gathering and processing interactions or transactions (either with others or within my own thoughts).

The ONLY hope-for-balm to heal this in the moment it happens would be for all around me to recognize INSTANTLY the need to erase all threat of harm and stress from the encounter.  More importantly, once the ‘dissociation’ involving my altered language processing happens, it is too late to fix it at that moment.

AWARENESS that allows for proactive prevention of the conditions that lead to this dissociation of word meaning from language transaction would be most helpful, along with the very real understanding that I, and others who were abused as infants like I was, do not have the ‘ordinary’ connection between emotional information and ‘verbal fact’.


It struck me after I published this post that one powerful effect of my mother’s horrific verbal abuse of me all of my life is that I KNOW what the end product of words as object-tools-weapons REALLY can mean.  All verbal abuse survivors know this.  But when it comes to the ADDITION of terrible verbal abuse as it bombards an infant that is ALSO being neglected, physically abuse and traumatized, there is no possible way that profound physiological development of language abilities can be avoided.

We survivors of trauma on these most profound language-development levels are therefore language exiles from our species and are probably ONLY able to truly communicate with survivors whose brain-language abilities were built with these same altered preverbal-nonverbal-verbal physiological Trauma Altered patterns.

This all must tie in on the deepest human physiological levels with the reasons why it is the ability or disability to tell one’s life narrative ‘coherently’ according to compliance with or ‘incoherently’ in deviation from Grice’s conversational maxims that is the foundation of the assessment tool used to determine a secure versus insecure attachment pattern-system-disorder in adults.  (Adult Attachment Assessment Interview)

Those of us raised in extremely malevolent early attachment environments did not have the same communication ‘rules’ built into our body-brain.  We do NOT, therefore, speak the same language as do those who were not equally as exposed to severe trauma during critical early physiological developmental stages.

(To know a LANGUAGE is a far more complex and expansive operation than simply knowing a collection of WORDS.  There are, for example, nearly 3000 words in this post, but I believe it is only those who have some ‘cultural immersion’ experience in the universe of severe infant-child abuse trauma that will know exactly what I am actually talking about here!)

The Meaning in Words by Dr. Bruce Perry



  1. HOLY COW!!!!!! Are you spying on me??? You have described me to a Tee, and that scares me a little. I’ve started to touch on this subject with myself and it isn’t easy to face. Written language is MY language. Face to face interaction is too fraught with …….worry, concern, hypervigilance to be able to focus on what the other person is saying, much less what they are trying to convey. I’m so focused (dissociated) on the FEELING I’m getting from them, I don’t hear the words. Even worse if I try to talk. I see the disconnect on their face.

    You say “In the end — I DO NOT CARE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.” How did you parent your children properly if this is true? I think I understand what you are saying, I just can’t understand how those things can go together. Please remember I chose as a teenager to never become a mother. That was the best way I knew of to not repeat her behavior.

    • From the text:

      In the end — I DO NOT CARE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. That level of signaling caring was NOT built into my infant (birth to 2) physiology during my precursory stages of verbal language ability.

      Nobody cared about ME so very realistically, how could CARING possibly have been included in my language acquisition physiological patterning? (This is part of the ’empathy disorder’ Dr. Allan Schore describes as a component of all insecure attachment disorders within the 45% of our population that has some version of one.)

      Because the ability to include EMOTIONALLY relevant information and to read its signals and clues was not a part of my preverbal-nonverbal-verbal physiological development, the bottom line TO ME is that I am excluded from the highly developed human social specie’s GROOMING and GOSSIPING behavior. I was not born into an environment that included me as a PART OF THE GROUP to be safely and securely attached to and within.


      I would have to hunt around for the info written on the blog about what I call ‘borrowed attachment’. I distinguish this from what is more commonly called ‘earned secure attachment’ as researchers use it to describe safe and secure attachments those of us who did NOT have this can in fact have it with our children (and select other people we are close to in our lives).

      In all honesty, autistic-type ‘caring’ would be closer to what my experience actually is — than what ‘normal-ordinary’ is…….

      To have the experience of true caring as it is usually defined means to me that a person could FEEL that feeling — for me except for those I am very close to, children included, ‘caring’ as a feeling in awareness comes and goes. The ‘borrowed attachment’ is a caring experience that is formed using the other person’s abilities to form safe and secure attachments — I BORROW that ability from them so that together we can ‘get by’ in our mutual relationship of spiritual connection of souls by SHARING the other’s attachment circuitry.

      This can be imagined in image like two people climbing one ladder – two people taking turns sharing an oxygen tank deep underwater, etc.

      My children were born with their ability to form safe and secure attachments intact. I did not interfere with their ability. They shared with me that ability and I followed along – giving them what they needed so they could KEEP the innate ability they were born with – like the saying attributed to Gandhi, “There go my people. I must follow. I am their leader.”

      It is complicated – not sure I can do better right now to explain! Apologies. Perhaps related info of use here:



      *Attachment Simplified – Organized Secure Attachment – Earned Secure at


      **Dr. Allan Schore on Emotional Regulation – Notes at




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