Tuesday, March 04, 2014.  I have not been content to rest since my last post without finding some positive angle with which I can leverage hope for healing after taking a serious look at the heavy and very factual information about attachment trauma and the right brain developmental alterations it can cause.

I used to see the image when I began my most serious search to find out the truth of what happened to me and about HOW I am in this world a decade ago that led me through developmental neuroscience studies that there were people whose problems in life could be seen scattered around a tabletop.  There seemed to be help available for those people.

Then there were the rest of us – those who I now know where nearly completely unsafely and insecurely attached – or not attached at all – from birth – who then suffered all kinds of trauma from abuses and neglect after infancy.  WE were – in my image which has returned to me as I write this post – simply shoved off of the tabletop to fall – who cares where???

I have moved into a line of thinking about these concerns that lets me know that for the most part, as Dr. Martin Teicher states, those of us off of the tabletop are evolutionarily altered individuals – who seem to live in an entirely different world.  I evidently am still looking for a bridge across the seemingly bottomless chasm that divides us from most other people.

I do not give up believing that there ARE ways we can improve our well-being.  I realized this evening that not only is my own current difficult state motivating me to look anew for workable solutions but so also is my desire to understand how MY MIND is helping to form the MIND of my little grandson under my care at least 50 hours a week.  I don’t want to accidentally miss important steps toward helping him NEVER have ANY of the difficulties I live with in terms of having a mind that was starved for what it needed to grow in the best way possible.

Before I present the excellent material below I will mention here a few resources that Siegel mentions in this short talk that are about healing:

(1) CASEL Guide:  Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs

You can Google search this program for more information – Siegel highly recommends it.      

(2)  There are many excellent resources online for this woman’s work, again highly recommended by Siegel:  The Roots of Empathy by Mary Gordon

(3)  Mindfulness – search this term online – it’s a buffet!  Again, highly recommended by Siegel

(4) Daniel Siegel – search amazon.com for his books – all are EXCELLENT!  I am ordering at least 3 of them – and may perhaps also buy the newer 2013 edition of his book Parenting from the Inside Out.


Siegel has a lot to say about “differentiation,” “linking,” and “integration.”  I continue on my hunt to learn what he is saying.  It is important!  A healthy mind and healthy relationships – including parent-child relationships – are about improving all three!  Siegel says although the “blender” image which ends up in a “smoothie” does not signify health – the image of “a fruit salad” does. 

I wanted to write another hopeful fruit salad post – and here it is – hopefully to be followed up with more of the positive – although the truth of what might seem so negative is also vital to those of us who suffer from lifelong consequences of severe childhood trauma.  I can leave neither domain off of this blog – but my being able to strike a balance would be most excellent!


Making sense – A great short video 2010 segment with Dr. Daniel Siegel where he discusses new research showing 100% overlap between the criteria for secure attachment and mindfulness.  (at around minute 4 on the slider bar) – Here is my transcription of a portion of that talk:

“…[H]ow do take energy and information flow and allow it to be about integration?  So it’s straight-on….  Let’s talk about what health is and about social and emotional intelligence – that is mindsight – are necessary for that, how mindsight is necessary for that, how actually knowing about the nervous system can be essential for knowing, for example, if you’ve been traumatized how integration has been impaired and then how to FEEL the texture of different circuits in the brain – literally, the skull-based brain – and know how to work that into your awareness so that you use the mind to actually shape the brain in new ways.

So all of that is included in the mindsight approach, and I think it informs mindfulness as the book The Mindful Brain [Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being – 2007, by Siegel (see more of his books by clicking his name here] tried to do and…by looking at it this way you can actually see the incredible parallels between parent-child relationships – and attachment – which is one field of study – and contemplative studies and mindfulness.  

So now what my students are doing is – those that are getting their PhDs – looking at the features of  secure attachment and now looking for mindfulness traits in the parents to see if they coordinate with or correlate with the security of the child’s attachment to that parent.  And the preliminary data says yes.

And even trained as an attachment researcher myself and not being trained as a mindfulness practitioner what was fascinating for me was to take the criteria we use to assess the adult narrative – which is the most robust predictor of child attachment is how the parent has made sense of his or her early life experiences – Not what happened to him or her – but actually how they make sense of it….  The insight into “Look these good things happened, these bad things happened, I’m still working on it, it’s hard.  It’s a challenge.  But I see how my relationships really affected me.”

Versus “Nothing bad ever happened” or “Everything’s good” or “I don’t remember anything” or something like that.

 “The parents who have a coherent narrative, when they’ve made sense it looks like those criteria – even though they were done without even the concept of mindfulness in mind – 100% overlap with the scientists who don’t know anything about attachment research who are now looking into mindfulness traits.  So by actually being kind of an innocent and newbie to all these fields by bringing them together you see these discoveries so that mindsight informs all of these different fields even though it’s a term that’s new in our vocabulary.


I also suggest taking a look at this online article.  I will read it tomorrow.  Right now I need to finish this post and end my evening in a more relaxed state of mind!

An Interpersonal Neurobiology Approach to Psychotherapy:
Awareness, Mirror Neurons, and Neural Plasticity in the Development of Well-Being

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.


I also want to point out a very important statement that appears in the article I mentioned in my previous post as it describes very particular language children need to hear to develop the best Theory of Mind.  I imagine that we-wounded might benefit from taking a close look also at this simple truth as stated in this Oxford Journal article:

There is strong evidence that exposure to mental state language (references to beliefs, desires, emotions, etc.) directly predicts children’s later theory of mind understanding….  Jill de Villiers, however, argues that the critical factor in theory of mind development is not general conversational exposure to language about mental states and different perspectives but the acquisition of certain syntactic forms….  Specifically, de Villiers argues that the acquisition of complement syntax, in which a proposition is embedded under a mental state verb (e.g., “He thinks that the chocolate is in the cupboard”) or communication verb (e.g., “She says the box contains candy”), is necessary to represent false beliefs.  In support of this hypothesis, two studies found that training on complement syntax improved children’s performance on false belief tasks….”  (page 219)

Personally I believe that for we severe abuse survivors – especially when the traumas happened from birth forward and directly involved attachment-related “betrayals” – our being from the time we were very little could not understand the underpinnings of what is known as “false belief” in anything like an ordinary way. 

Here is a YouTube video that will give an idea about what researchers know as FALSE BELIEF

BUT – this train of thought would lead me off into another post – NOT going to happen tonight!

BUT – HEY!  What’s this?

False-belief tasks are distinct from theory of mind

“No, Linda.  Leave the autism research alone for the night!


Here is our first book out in ebook format.  A very kind professional graphic artist is going to revise our cover pro bono (we are still waiting to hear that he has accomplished this job) – what a gift and thank you Ben!  Click here to view or purchase: 


It lists for $2.99 and can be read free for Amazon Prime customers.  Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site are WELCOME and appreciated!


Please click here to read or to Leave a Comment »



  1. Oh and to address your comment about Crittenden’s work, she fully incorporates/acknowledges the physiological/brain change element in her work.

  2. So much good info Linda…where do you get your energy? I received the book in the mail by Crittenden two days ago and am finding it very informative and way more positive about less than optimal attachment experiences, than other things I have read. I’ll let you know what I think of it when I finish it and can maybe send it to you when I am done if you want.

    • Hi Lisa – Does C’s book start at the beginning with attachment research? From there, if she does, I would guess she describes both why and how she made a parallel translation between the terms the original (and most other) attachment researchers use into her own thinking about what can be known through an attachment lens about human relationships with self and others.

      I would need to read her book to answer my own questions – and I realize today I may well need to and therefore choose to begin a course of study through at least five of Siegel’s books. Finding common language-terminology for what one knows is esssential to communicating the usefulness of one’s thoughts to others on the widest scale possible.

      My mind is “going somewhere” in all of this and all I can do is follow it! When this happens to me I wake, live and go to sleep daily with nothing but information coursing through me like blood through my veins.

      So glad to hear your voice this morning, Lisa! And, yes – I would certainly accept the C book when you have finished with it! Hope your day is peaceful at its heart! L

      • Yes she does begin with attachment research and then points out where some of the gaps in application of the research/theory are. That’s where her dynamic maturational model of interpreting the adult attachment inventory comes in. She translates attachment/types styles into what she calls protection strategies which then translate into patterns of behavior as an adult that may or may not be maladaptive/counter productive. Can’t wait to get farther along towards the end where she does some actual prescriptive stuff for the maladaptive protective strategies that are holding some of us back. Bright and sunny here but cold as a (insert whatever you want here)…trying to think spring while peering around the gigantic snow banks as I drive.

        • i am wondering – i can’t agree – of course i don’t have the details of c’s thinking – that the attachment disorders are protection strategies – very often with infant abuse, neglect etc present the body-brain is BUILT differently – physiological changes that are either part of the attachment disorder or connected to it is physiological ways – but – need more info to think/feel thiss thru and appreciate your insights!!!! is warming here! where do you live? NE??

          • Northern Michigan…we might have a heat wave of 35 degrees tomorrow! It’s been in the negative numbers for a week and a half and there is nowhere left to put the snow. Our roads and parking lots are getting smaller and smaller and the snow banks keep getting bigger and bigger…

            • Fargo did not get much snow this winter – when they get snow like you have there are floods from the Red River – wicked. Sounds like our temps might be comparable – here there is so much WIND!! There are rumors of such a thing as spring????

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