One thought on “How the 8th Sense Affects a Child’s Emotional Experiences

  • May 22, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    I find this blog post particularly fascinating. I also like relating this not only to my own experience in a neglectful home life, but also what other new areas of studying may emerge as a result of these distinctions.

    We know that good parenting is correlated to good mental health outcomes just as much as we know bad parenting is correlated with bad mental health outcomes. This simplification can be probed for all kinds of specifications, such as connecting good parenting with being attuned to a child’s needs. A good parent pays attention to their child when it cries and responds by comforting it. Bad parents, and by extension absent parents, don’t hear the cry or don’t respond by comforting the child. Maybe they don’t respond at all. Maybe they respond by punishing the child with some particularly severe methods due to being inconvenienced by, I don’t know, children having their own needs?

    I wonder when interoception develops as a sensory system. I wonder if a neglected kid who didn’t get help when they were hurt, sick, or were shamed for not being tough if they grow up with a muddied interoceptive ability. I can see that happening with children of narcissists, of people who suffer from addiction, and who knows what else? If the interoceptive ability only leads to an expression/vocalization that leads to abuse, what happens to the interoceptive process then? We could even connect this to toxic masculinity and men’s aversion to being vulnerable, hurt, etc. I wonder if that sense of interoceptive can become consciously dimmed or starts to erode if the system isn’t used. In chronic PTSD survivors where the body is seen as the place where all that trauma is stored, how does that impact this sense?

    I say this because as someone who grew up in a chronically neglected household, my sense of interoception is not the greatest. I am really checked out of it and can recall memories of any vocalizations of being sick, being in physical and even emotional pain, desires/wants, would all result in emotional abuse from my parents since they thought any sickness meant not being tough enough and shame was the fuel to make it to where you could be tougher. Emotional pain was never talked about, and my attempts as a child to broach these conversations resulted in more shaming of me for having emotions, or it served as an opportunity for either parent to co-opt the conversation about their emotional pain instead where I was then in the role to care take and parent them.

    I know now more about them coming from their own abusive situations and how that informs their parenting, but the impact was done. Any vocalization of these needs or feelings resulted in negative sensations. As a kid, shame worked. I believed my parents and their rationale, so I tried to erode as much of that sense as I could since if I could feel it and not express it, that felt bad. If I could feel it and sought to make my parents happy, I needed to shame myself. After enough times, feeling something became a trigger in itself and then it didn’t matter what the original stimulus was since it just became translated to that trigger instead. In a way, a part of me was co-opting my sensory experiencing the same way my parents did to me. It’s funny how that pattern exists.

    Only compassion and care heals that and some people get too little of that. I’ve been lucky enough to have had access to lots of opportunity, compassionate friends, and easy access to counseling and MH meds. I think further areas of study would be looking at how this sense is disrupted by trauma, dissociation, and chronic emotional abuse and neglect in childhood. I wanted to contribute this to the discussion since I found it fascinating to think about sensory processing disorder as a dysregulated sense of interoception that inspired me to think about my own sense of it due to mine being a little out of whack potentially because of the way I was raised. Thanks for posting your blog. I apologize for the brick of words lol!

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