TBRI® Animate: Toxic Stress & The Brain


As we develop, our brain produces 250,000 neurons every minute. By birth, we’ll have a hundred billion of these miraculous building blocks But in order for our brains to fully function we’ll need synaptic connections to organize and build networks Who we become and how we function depends entirely on how these networks develop and our interactions with others and how we’ve been treated determines everything. From functions like heart rate, breathing and basic emotions to personality, decision-making, language, social behavior, and voluntary movement. We know that severe or prolonged abuse or neglect derails that building process even in the womb. Distress and high anxiety in the mother allows cortisol, the stress hormone, to cross the placenta and disrupt development. When the toxic stress response is activated repeatedly, brain development and even immune systems are disrupted. Research has shown that high doses of stress hormones inhibit brain function and impulse control over-building the fear center in the part of the brain that’s critical to emotional regulation. TBRI uses three sets of principles to begin the healing caused by toxic stress. By recreating the developmental process, TBRI strives to introduce the nurturing that was absent in those toxic situations. and for the child who has endured toxic stress, healing must begin with a sense of both physical and emotional safety, something this child may have never known. Connecting principles are designed to create and nurture healthy relationships through sensitivity, consistency, and availability to disarm fear and gain trust. Giving full attention using a gentle voice and kind facial expressions and body language are just a few of the ways to help build trust. Punitive and controlling responses only feed a child’s mistrust and fear. Empowering principles are designed to meet physical needs including sensory regulation, nutrition and hydration and strive to be aware of environmental issues such as over stimulation by light, noise or smells that can trigger behaviors that often leave caretakers baffled. the goal of the correcting principles is to help guide a child through day to day strategies by correcting fear-based behaviors and establishing felt safety helping a child regulate their emotions, tell their stories, and learn through playful engagement. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study examined the effects of multiple types of abuse in childhood and the staggering results showed that high doses of childhood adversity affect brain development drastically, leading to addictions, attempts at self-medication, impacted immune systems, chronic inflammation, and autoimmune diseases. The greater the number of traumatic events, the greater the damage. TBRI can help stop this ugly cycle. There is hope for the damaging effects of toxic stress, but it will take dedication, education and most of all understanding.

3 thoughts on “TBRI® Animate: Toxic Stress & The Brain

  1. Thank you! With Cptsd in Adulthood these videos are invaluable as we predominately use sight to help understand. I'll be sharing on my platforms.

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