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Explaining a Pathway to Behavioral Problems  

January 3, 2015

Problem solving requires looking for the root cause of the problem. It’s not always easy to identify a root cause. Behavioral issues and psychological problems have a root cause. But because there are so many variables (Inputs) into the development of issues and problems, they can be hard to accurately identify. I am going to attempt to explain my understanding of where the root cause of many behavioral and psychological issues start.

There are 3 interacting variables, although you could certainly identify more by breaking my three into further groups. I call them Trauma Derived, Nutrition Derived and Culturally Adopted.

“Trauma Derived” root cause describes developmental trauma. Called Adverse Childhood Experiences in a study of the same name, developmental trauma affects how a child adapts to an environment where its fight or flight (fear) response is continually activated. Developmental trauma leads to an increased stress response system, greater anxiety and inflammation. Developmental stress is causally linked to many negative behaviors, including anger/aggression, alcohol/drug abuse, promiscuity/teen pregnancy, dropping out of school, depression and suicide, among others.

“Nutrition Derived” root cause describes a pattern of nutrition that affects the physical function of the brain, organs and body. Obesity comes from a nutrition pattern of heavy sugar and processed carbohydrate consumption. Schizophrenia, depression, learning/cognition problems, heart disease, and cancer have been linked to nutrition deficits.

“Culturally Adopted” root causes come from peer pressure (religion, gangs, citizenship) on action and reaction to cultural situations. A culture of poverty can affect nutrition and health care, which compound other issues.

As a child grows towards maturity, the mix of Inputs varies and the child’s reactions differ from other children with a different mix of inputs. Outcomes vary as well, depending on the types of soothing and calming resources the child has access to. A heavily traumatized child might find that sugar is soothing and calming, ingests more and more sugar, and starts gaining excess weight as a result. The excess weight may lead to more teasing from peers and different treatment by adults. The child might be excluded from different activities, and fail to learn skills and develop talents that might be soothing and calming. The child’s addiction to sugar might be transferred to alcohol, which is simply a more refined sugar, and lead to the development of other negative behaviors. As a teenager, alcohol and drug use can put a teen into contact with the law, and additional labels are attached to the teen that make it more difficult to function.

In interplay of the three Inputs describes a system of inputs and outputs that vary widely and are not necessarily predictable. One child might use their aggressive behaviors to achieve in sports or business, while another might end up in jail.

In my next post, I want to talk about the difference between outcomes that appear to be positive, and how they may actually be detrimental in the long term, to the individual and to society.

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