Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Dr. Ford, Memory, Trauma. Part 2


In her testimony, Dr. Christine Ford discussed her traumatic memories. In our book, Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and Development, we look at exactly what Dr. Ford describes. Here is Part 2 of an except from "Wounds that Time Won't Heal."


A Harvest of Psychiatric Disorders

Changes to normal body chemistry induced by physical, sexual, and psychological trauma in childhood may lead to psychiatric difficulties that show up in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. The victim’s anger, shame, and despair can be directed inward to produce symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, or directed outward as aggression, impulsiveness, delinquency, hyperactivity, and substance abuse

Childhood trauma may fuel a range of persistent psychiatric disorders. One is somatoform disorder (also known as psychosomatic disorder), in which patients experience physical complaints with no discernible medical cause. Another is panic disorder with agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) in which patients experience the sudden, acute onset of terror and may narrow their range of activities to avoid being outside, especially in public, in case they have an attack.

People with PTSD keep re-experiencing a traumatic event in waking life or in dreams, and they actively avoid situations that might bring back memories of the trauma.

More complex, difficult-to-treat disorders strongly associated with childhood abuse are borderline personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder. Someone with borderline personality disorder characteristically sees others in black-and-white terms, first putting them on a pedestal, then vilifying them after some perceived slight or betrayal. Such people have a history of intense but unstable relationships, feel empty or unsure of their identity, often try to escape through substance abuse, and experience self-destructive impulses and suicidal thoughts. They are plagued by anger, most often directed at themselves.

In dissociative identity disorder, formerly called multiple personality disorder (the phenomenon behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”), at least two seemingly separate people occupy the same body at different times, each with no knowledge of the other. This can be seen as a more severe form of borderline personality disorder. In borderline personality disorder, there is one dramatically changeable personality with an intact memory, as opposed to several distinct personalities, each with an incomplete memory.  

Of the many disorders associated with childhood abuse, depression or heightened risk for developing it, may be a consequence of reduced activity of the left frontal lobes. If so, the stunted development of the left hemisphere related to abuse could easily enhance the risk of developing depression. Similarly, excess electrical irritability in the limbic system, and alterations in development of receptors that modulate anxiety, set the stage for the emergence of panic disorder and increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Alterations in the neurochemistry of these areas of the brain also heighten the hormonal response to stress, producing a state of hypervigilance and right-hemisphere activation that colors our view with negativity and suspicion. Alterations in the size of the hippocampus, along with limbic abnormalities shown on an EEG, further enhance the risk for developing dissociative symptoms and memory impairments.

Alamy
Changes to normal body chemistry induced by physical, sexual, and psychological trauma in childhood may lead to psychiatric difficulties that show up in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.

Researchers have also found that 30 per cent of children with a history of severe abuse meet the diagnostic criteria for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), although they are less hyperactive than children with classic ADHD. Very early childhood abuse appears particularly likely to be associated with emergence of ADHD-like behavior problems. Interestingly, one of the most reliable brain structure findings in ADHD is reduced size of the cerebellar vermis. The cerebellar vermis receives information from the spinal cord about the sense of touch and proprioception. Proprioception is the ability to sense or perceive the spatial position and movements of the body. The cerebellar vermis also receives information from the body about hearing, vision, and balance.

Some studies have also found an association between reduced size of the mid portions of the corpus callosum and emergence of ADHD-like symptoms of impulsivity. Hence, early abuse may produce brain changes that mimic key aspects of ADHD.

An Increased Startle Response?

Researchers also think that childhood trauma may lead to what is called an exaggerated "startle response" on into adulthood. When startled, people experience a number of reactions. The heart may race,  sweat increase, breath rate get faster, muscles tense (to the point someone might even jump), and people may feel scared. When someone jumps out from behind and yells, “Boo!” that may initiate a startle response. This is an ongoing area of investigation.

Traumatized Children and Youth in Romania--A Tragedy of Huge Proportions

Beginning in the 1960s, the country of Romania's harsh economic policies meant that most families were too poor to support multiple children. So, without other options, thousands of parents left their babies in government-run orphanages.

By Christmas day 1989, when revolutionaries overthrew the government, an estimated 170,000 children were living in more than 700 state orphanages. As the regime crumbled, journalists and humanitarians swept in. In most institutions, children were getting adequate food, hygiene and medical care, but had woefully few interactions with adults, leading to severe behavioral and emotional problems.

Unlike growing up in a family, the children didn't have lots of interactions with adults holding them, talking to them, singing or playing with them, and that lack of stimulation affected their brain development.

An American scientist who went to study the crisis, recalls "a boy in a red T-shirt and sweats skipped up to me, grabbed my hand, and wouldn’t let go. His head didn’t reach my shoulders, so I figured he was eight or nine years old. He was 13, my guide said. The boy kept looking up at me with an open, sweet face, but I

Wikimedia Commons
Harsh economic conditions and government actions beginning in the 1960s forced many families in Romania to abandon children to state homes.

found it difficult to return his gaze. Like most of the other kids, he had crossed eyes — strabismus, a professor would explain later, a common symptom of children raised in institutions, possibly because as infants they had nothing to focus their eyes on. A couple of dozen kids gathered around us in a tight circle, chirping and giggling loudly as children do. At one point they broke into a laughing fit, and I asked my guide what happened. They were gawking at the whiteness of my teeth, he said. Two of the girls, somewhere in that gaggle, were pregnant."

Children were getting adequate food, hygiene and medical care, but had woefully few interactions with adults, leading to severe behavioral and emotional problems

Mary Barrett, a prospective American adoptive mother recalls that she met an 11-month-old named Daniel. "He had an eagerness," she remembers. "He was alert. He was cruising the side of his crib and looking for stimulation." The small boy had been in a hospital crib his whole life and fed only by bottle. Mary spoon-fed him a mashed banana. He reacted with surprise she recalls, "It was very odd and strange to him."

The Barretts adopted Daniel when he was 13 months old. He was small for his age, scoring in the fifth percentile of height and weight. They thought it would be a matter of "playing catch-up," says Mary. That it was "a case of delay that would be overcome by paying extra attention." She says she remained optimistic for two years. But certain things didn't seem right.

Wikimedia Commons
At state-run institutions in Romania, children received food, hygiene and medical care, but had woefully few interactions with adults, leading to severe behavioral and emotional distress.


Strong or Traumatized Youth--We Reap What We Sow

Whether abuse of a child is physical, psychological, or sexual, it sets off a ripple of hormonal changes that wire the child’s brain to cope with a hostile world. Abuse predisposes the child to have a biological basis for fear, though he may act and pretend otherwise. Early abuse molds the brain to be more irritable, impulsive, suspicious, and prone to be swamped by fight-or-flight reactions that the rational mind may be unable to control. The brain is programmed to a state of defensive adaptation, enhancing survival in a world of constant danger, but at a terrible price.

To a brain so tuned, the Garden of Eden would seem to hold its share of dangers; building secure, stable relationships may later require extraordinary personal growth and transformation.






Sunday, September 30, 2018

Dr. Ford, Trauma, and Memory, Part 1

In her testimony, Dr. Christine Ford discussed her traumatic memories. In our book, Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and Development, we look at exactly what Dr. Ford describes. Here is Part 1 of an except from Chapter 3, "Wounds that Time Won't Heal."


Order your copy for just $7.00 on
Amazon today.


Highlights:

  • Short-term vs.long-term stress (good stress vs. bad stress)
  • Altered brain chemistry from stress
  • Trauma and the vulnerable brains of children and youth
  • The importance of touch in brain development
  • The tragedy of Romanian children raised by the state

Imagine you are a zebra grazing on the plains of Africa. It's midday. The sun is bright, the food is plentiful.

Suddenly you sense an attack. A lion is chasing you. Its fight or flight in action.

Your brain tells your body to prepare for a fight or take flight. The body responds by preparing extra hormones to create more energy and by increasing the rate the heart pumps blood to the muscles. For most animals, this stress reaction lasts for just a short time and it saves lives.

Wikimedia Commons
Why don’t zebras get ulcers? According to Dr. Robert Sapolsky, their stress is decidedly short-term, not long-term.

As a body is preparing for fight or flight, however, practically all systems, such as digestion, physical growth and warding off diseases, are placed on hold. This means that people for whom stress has become a way of life are endangering their overall health. Researchers have learned by studying primates whose systems are similar to human beings that those who learn to have control over their lives and are able to reduce or avoid stress live longer and healthier lives.

Are zebras better equipped to deal with stress than humans? No. However, according to Dr. Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, "For a zebra, stress is three minutes of some screaming terror running from a lion. After the chase, either it's over or they are." On the other hand humans, he says, have constructed a network of social stressors. Since we are obliged to live in this framework, stress builds up.

Nature.com
While the stress response activates automatically, its duration and intensity relies on factors such as individual temperament.

How do the brain and the body react to stress? Stress, such as the threat of attack, forces various changes in the body. First, adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure so that blood can be sent to muscles faster. Second, the brain’s hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to stimulate the adrenal gland (specifically the adrenal cortex) to produce cortisol.

SimplyPsychology.org
Stress, such as the threat of attack, forces changes in the body carried out by the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal axis (HPA).

This stress hormone, a longer-acting steroid, helps the body to mobilize energy. However, prolonged exposure to cortisol can damage virtually every part of the body. Chronic high blood pressure can cause blood vessel damage and the long-term shutdown of digestion can lead to ulcers.

Why do some people experience more stress than others? Individuals who feel they have control over their lives appear to experience less stress. It also depends on personality and temperament. Aggressive, competitive types are more likely to define a situation as stressful than a passive, accommodating personality. A universal stress producer seems to be social isolation.

PTSD: A Breakthrough in Diagnosis

In 1980 the mental health community established the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, and revolutionized the way the field views the effects of stress. This change acknowledged that many of the symptoms people experience after exposure to trauma can be long-lasting, if not permanent. Before that shift, the field tended to view stress-related symptoms as a transient, normal response to an adverse life event, not requiring intensive treatment.

Furthermore, before 1980, people who did develop long-term symptoms following trauma were viewed as implicitly vulnerable; the role of the actual event in precipitating their symptoms was minimized. For a while, in a reversal of previous thinking, experts expected most trauma survivors to develop PTSD. More recent research has confirmed that only about 25 per cent of individuals who are exposed to trauma develop PTSD.


Order your copy today.


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

When An American President "Loses It”

When A President "Loses It”



By: James F. Toole, M.D.
Cerebrum, Dana Foundation, 1998


Learn about the astonishing, complex brain.


It has happened, of course—and not infrequently. Just in this century, American presidents who continued to serve in office while seriously neurologically impaired include Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the first two, there is a credible historical case that the results were catastrophic on a world scale. But the real question is: Could it happen again?...

Once officials are elected or appointed, there is no legal requirement for periodic physical, mental, or behavioral examinations while they are serving in office. When the average life span was 60 years, senility was a less common problem. Now, with the graying of America (and soon the world), devastating neurological diseases and other conditions have a much greater likelihood of wreaking havoc on an individual’s mental functioning. Isn’t it time for the law to require health examinations, and public revelation of the results, before election and periodically thereafter while an individual is serving in office—just as there are legal protections of the public in other areas of society? After all, we have laws governing the packaging of foods, construction of automobiles, and periodic inspection for continuing registration and licensing of vehicles and drivers. Why don’t we have similar requirements for public officials (as we have already for aviators)? Unfortunately action is stalled, in part because it contravenes traditions of confidentiality in matters relating to health. Society desperately needs correction of this Achilles’ heel before it is too late.


THE TWENTY-FIFTH AMENDMENT
Why does our nation tolerate this appallingly dangerous flaw in our system? Can there be any brake on this unregulated system— or must we live in danger of catastrophe? A first step was taken in 1965, when Senator Birch Bayh proposed an amement to the U.S. Constitution. On February 10, 1967, Article 25 was ratified by a sufficient number of state legislatures. In it, succession is clearly defined in cases of removal of the president from office by death or resignation. The vice president shall become president, as happened when President Richard M. Nixon was replaced by Vice President Gerald R. Ford.

Section 2 is equally clear on succession to the office of the vice president, as occurred when Ford was appointed vice president after the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew.

Section 3 is straightforward. If the president voluntarily submits a written statement that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, they shall be discharged by the vice president as acting president until the president submits another document stating that he has recovered. This sequence occurred when President Reagan transferred power to Vice President George Bush in anticipation of undergoing general anesthesia for colon surgery and then resumed office immediately thereafter.

In Section 4, however, there seems the potential for a serious dilemma:

Whenever the vice-president and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the vice president shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as acting president.

What is the mechanism for determining that the president is unable to serve? How does one inform the president that he is not capable of performing in office? Judging from past experience, it would require the most extreme conditions for the vice president or members of the cabinet to remove their leader. They have a built-in political incentive to maintain the status quo because, if the president is removed, the cabinet that serves him may be replaced as well. Furthermore, these officials are not medical professionals and so cannot have full insight into the dangers of having a mentally impaired leader.

There is an even greater problem in implementation of the next part of Section 4. It states:

Thereafter, when the president transmits to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no disability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the vice-president and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of any such body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within 48 hours for that purpose if not in session.

These two clauses conceal potential stumbling blocks. Together, they could enable a cognitively impaired President who lacked insight into his mental deficiency to obstruct governmental procedures for removal from office (or to resume office), despite persistent deficits. Only a specially trained physician has the skills to determine the presence, treatment, and prognosis for neurologic and psychiatric disease.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

John McCain’s Brain Cancer, Glioblastoma, Is Nearly Impossible to Treat



(Daily Beast, August 26, 2018)
Glioblastoma affects the glial cells, the sticky supportive membranes that surround the brain’s nerve cells, and affects some 200,000 Americans a year. Sen. Ted Kennedy died from it nine years ago.
It’s distinguished from some other types of brain cancer by its speed and viciousness.
“There are many kinds of brain cancer,” said Alfred Yung, a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a researcher working with the National Cancer Institute. “They range from very slow-growing, benign brain tumors that are not likely to kill the patient very quickly to ones that derive from glial cells.”
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Two things make glioblastoma especially difficult to treat. First, researchers have no idea exactly why glial cells turn cancerous. Theories range from genetics to environmental risk factors to some combination of the two. The second is the cancer’s location, lodged so deep within the brain that it is nearly impossible to cleanly separate the tumor from the delicate organ.
“The tumor is very complex,” Yung said. “It's a mixture of different kinds of cancer cells and different behavior.”
But research is growing. Former Vice President Joe Biden is concentrating his post-White House efforts on leading the Biden Cancer Initiative after his son Beau died from a recurrence of brain cancer (not glioblastoma). He comforted McCain’s daughter last December and highlighted the advances being made in the brain cancer field.
Gordon Li, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University specializing in brain tumors, said that what makes glioblastoma incurable is its ability to multiply and take over the organ, which is central to the operation of the whole body, and the difficulty in spotting and removing cancerous cells and tumors.  Because of the brain's dense folds, even a slight ding from laser or radiation can be dangerous. And even if a tumor is removed, the cancer almost always returns.
“Glioblastoma has micro tumor cells that go through the brain ... and all over,” Li told The Daily Beast. “Taking out only one part of the brain doesn't make sense.”
Because survival rates hover at less than five percent, researchers are anxious to figure out what makes a person's glial cells become cancerous. “We could diagnose it earlier, so we could take [the cancer] out [earlier], or we could work on agents to see the tumor better,” Li said.
Oncologists and researchers have tried a variety of methods to delay death. Glioblastoma's complexity means a combination of drugs and therapies are required to treat it, which can be tough on the patient. “When you use multiple things, you're likely to induce side effects,” Yung said. “And we still do not understand the tumor's biology and genetics well. We still don't know enough about glioblastoma to know how many drugs to use and what kind of drugs and how much radiation to use.”
Learn more about the fascinating brain.

Treatment is further complicated by the blood-brain barrier, which prevents toxic products in the bloodstream from reaching the brain's most integral cells.
While techniques are improving, Li and Yung said glioblastoma statistics remain grim. “The average survival rate is between 1.5 and two years,” Li said. “There are patients who will live longer, there will be patients who don't live as long.” McCain lived 13 months after his diagnosis was publicly announced in July 2017.
The variable survival time is a sign of differences in how glial cells work. Delving into that could uncover genetic markers and lead to better treatments, Li said.
“Don't get me wrong, it’s a bad cancer,” Li said. “But over the past 15 years, we’ve understood a lot more about the biology and we have a lot of hope.”

Sunday, August 19, 2018

FREE Review Copy: Stress, Trauma and Gay Youth

New!
Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and LGBT/Q Youth

CONTACT: A Thousand Moms,
2367 Curry Road, Schenectady NY 12303
Available on Amazon.com
(Includes video), 172 pp, illustrated, 8 1/2 x 11

From the author of the acclaimed Dana Sourcebook
of Brain Science, an easy-to-read layman’s guide to understanding the brain and health.  Praise for Healing the Brain:

 https://goo.gl/3vucVn

Purchase directly (paperback or Kindle) at Amazon.com or www.HealingTheBrainBooks.com
“Well researched, fleshed out with relevant case histories, this book packs a lot of solid information into its 152 pages. Written in an engaging style for the layman, it covers a wide range of topics. One learns a great deal about the biology of stress, particularly the vulnerability of the brain in the pre-adult years. This book also provides a glossary of key brain science terms and a listing of organizations serving the LGBT /Q community and resources on the brain. Brief summaries of Erik Erickson's Stages of Development and Abraham Maslow's 12 Characteristics of a Self-Actualized Person lead into a detailed examination of the brain's structure and functions. Although the basic wiring structure is present at birth, there are several critical stages of brain development. Nurture, experience and stimulation are essential to proper brain growth and to the fine tuning of its communications structure. Notably, PTSD is not just an issue for veterans, but can also develop in children and teens who are going through a traumatic situation such as child abuse.”--Gary Bordzuk, Librarian, Rockville, NY

“David Balog takes a subject fraught with difficulty and makes it simple and accessible to everyone. The book goes a long way in helping one understand how and why and in what ways stress affects how we live and cope. Invaluable.”--Jessica Watson-Crosby, former president, National Association of Former Foster Children

“...[A] book for educators (or anyone working with youth) that explains the complicated workings of the brain in an easy-to-understand manner. The author goes on to discuss various types of trauma and how the adolescent brain responds to trauma such as depression, stress, addiction, risk taking, PTSD, etc. LGBT/Q youth may experience….I highly recommend this book!--Carol Dopp, M.Ed.

"An invaluable resource for those working in the trenches with LGBTQ youth in foster/adoptive care but equally important serves as a primer for those in the community at large who are largely unaware of this subset in our population who are in such desperate need!"--Dr. Ray Werking, professor, GLSEN educator and host, WRPI Radio

“David Balog understands the strain of alienation, so he tackles this subject with compassion and concern. Mr. Balog draws on his knowledge of brain science to give readers insight into what happens to young people under tremendous stress….”--Gary L. Cottle, author

“Easy to read. Difficult to put down.”--Micheal J. Colucciello, Jr., NY State pharmaceutical researcher, retired.

Also available in the series: Addiction; Development; Domestic Violence and TBI; Memory; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders; Stress & Money.

Purchase directly (paperback or Kindle) at Amazon.com or www.HealingTheBrainBooks.com



Thursday, August 16, 2018

Free e-book: Concussions, CTE and Football

From the Introduction:

When You Watch Your Next Football Game...

Men in White and Black Playing Football · Free Stock Photo
Free Stock Photo
From high school to college to professional levels, football dominates American sports and exposes millions to head traumas on practically every play.

It is a paradox of wide proportions. From opening day in September to the Super Bowl in February, the National Football League (NFL) dominates American sports and wins television ratings far beyond any other program--sports or otherwise.

(Also available on Amazon and Kindle.)
Click here for PDF Flipbook.

Increasingly, though, discussions of football (and other sports) include the medical terms concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a long-term degenerative and incurable brain disease. Although military personnel and others are vulnerable to the disease, the highest risk is among athletes involved in contact sports in which hits to the head are considered “part of the game.”

Ten years ago, few would have predicted that the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith would be made. Fewer would have predicted that brain injuries would one day dominate the sports headlines. When former NFL star Junior Seau committed suicide in May 2012, the media focused almost entirely on whether the thousands of head blows he endured during his 19-year career as a middle linebacker were a contributing factor.

More than 3,000 former NFL players sued the league for allegedly misleading them about the risks of brain injury. The players and the league settled for more than $1 billion in damages. New policies and studies aimed at protecting the brains of athletes seem to be announced every week. But it’s not just professional athletes who are the focus of attention. No fewer than 40 states have passed laws requiring athletes in schools and recreational programs to schedule a doctor’s appointment when a concussion is suspected.

A progressive, degenerative brain disease, CTE can present itself  in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma months, years, or even decades after injury. Memory loss, confusion, depression, aggression, impaired judgment or impulse control, and, eventually, progressive dementia may result.

With this increasing awareness about the dangers of concussion, parents face tough choices about which sports their children should be allowed to play. Some of the more

New rules have since been designed to lessen brain trauma; but with every new horror story that emerges on the sports pages, parents worry even more.

dangerous sports for the brain, such as football, soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, are also the most popular. Although everyone agrees that brain trauma may have lasting and debilitating effects, and science continues to make slow progress toward understanding the disease, we cannot yet entirely quantify those effects. As a result, parents and even medical professionals are left to search their hearts and scour Web sites for answers. But a decade’s worth of research has made one thing clear: We need to find better ways to protect the brains of athletes.

Difficult to Measure

Concussions suffer from a perception problem. On the surface, they might not seem to have a lasting, serious impact. (In fact, sports programs and commentators continue to celebrate the most impactful “hits,” using euphemisms such as “getting your bell rung.”) They are an invisible injury: There is no blood, there are no displaced bones, and the patient rarely complains. Even when an athlete is knocked unconscious and observers react with panic, the concern quickly fades. Ninety-nine percent of concussed athletes wake up in seconds or minutes and then seem fine. When symptoms persist beyond the day of injury, in the vast majority of cases they dissipate within a month. The injury seems as if it is gone forever, leaving no scars or overt indication that it ever happened.

Children at Risk

Most brain trauma in the industrialized world occurs in children playing sports. Since participation is voluntary, and the rules of recreational sports are malleable, it seems reasonable to make every effort to reform each individual sport....


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

FREE REVIEW COPY: Stress, Trauma and Gay Youth

Parents, teachers, and youth are preparing for a new school year. For gay youth, thoughts still run to fear as schools still can be a place of isolation, bullying and other emotional stress. As a service, we are providing a free e-copy, below of the new edition of Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and LGBT/Q Youth.

Read some reviews below and download your free copy. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. Support for A Thousand Moms is also appreciated.

Click the photo for your e-copy, in PDF flip-book format:

 Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and LGBT/Q Youth


Read some of the reviews:

“David Balog understands the strain of alienation, so he tackles this subject with compassion and concern. Mr. Balog draws on his knowledge of brain science to give readers insight into what happens to young people under tremendous stress….”--Gary L. Cottle, author

“Easy to read. Difficult to put down.”--Micheal J. Colucciello, Jr., NY State pharmaceutical researcher, retired.

“Well researched, fleshed out with relevant case histories, this book packs a lot of solid information into its 152 pages. Written in an engaging style for the layman, it covers a wide range of topics. One learns a great deal about the biology of stress, particularly the vulnerability of the brain in the pre-adult years. This book also provides a glossary of key brain science terms and a listing of organizations serving the LGBT /Q community and resources on the brain. Brief summaries of Erik Erickson's Stages of Development and Abraham Maslow's 12 Characteristics of a Self-Actualized Person lead into a detailed examination of the brain's structure and functions. Although the basic wiring structure is present at birth, there are several critical stages of brain development. Nurture, experience and stimulation are essential to proper brain growth and to the fine tuning of its communications structure. Notably, PTSD is not just an issue for veterans, but can also develop in children and teens who are going through a traumatic situation such as child abuse.”--Gary Bordzuk, Librarian, Oceanside, NY

“David Balog takes a subject fraught with difficulty and makes it simple and accessible to everyone. The book goes a long way in helping one understand how and why and in what ways stress affects how we live and cope. Invaluable.”--Jessica Watson-Crosby, former president, National Association of Former Foster Children

“...[A] book for educators (or anyone working with youth) that explains the complicated workings of the brain in an easy-to-understand manner. The author goes on to discuss various types of trauma and how the adolescent brain responds to trauma such as depression, stress, addiction, risk taking, PTSD, etc. LGBT/Q youth may experience….I highly recommend this book!--Carol Dopp, M.Ed.

"An invaluable resource for those working in the trenches with LGBTQ youth in foster/adoptive care but equally important serves as a primer for those in the community at large who are largely unaware of this subset in our population who are in such desperate need!"
--Dr. Ray Werking, professor, GLSEN educator and host,
WRPI Radio