An Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) is defined as "physical abuse, emotional abuse or sexual abuse" before the age of 18. It also includes growing up experiencing;
-an alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household
-an incarcerated household member
-living with someone who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
-mother is treated violently
-having one or no parents
-emotional or physical neglect
The ACE definition so closely matches the one for Adult Children Of Alcoholics, they are practically synonymous.
All of these lead to trauma and whether the abuse was physical in nature or not, actually cause physical changes to a developing child's brain including abnormal development of the cortex. The amygdala of insecurely attached children are hyperactive and larger than those of securely attached children. They have a greater surging of cortisol and adrenaline (fight or flight response). Plus their prefrontal cortexes are smaller and so they are less able to control their fear and anger.
Unresolved ACEs can effect the health and behavior of the victim for decades and and even shorten their lifespan up to twenty years. The more types of ACEs you were exposed to, the more likely you will have resulting issues such as depression, addiction, heart disease, obesity and cancer later in life. People who have experienced 4 or more categories of ACEs are 4 to 12 times more likely to experience depression, drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide attempts than a person who has not experienced any. You can calculate your personal ACE score here: http://acestudy.org/
An introduction to The ACE Study:
Essayist, author, and host of the Freedomain Radio Podcasts, Stefan Molyneux, believes that therapy with a good counselor can help reverse the effects of ACEs and lead to a healthier, happier life. In Part 1, Molyneux explains the correlation between childhood trauma and it's negative effects later in life:
Part 2 features an interview with one of the leaders of the ACE study, Vincent J. Felitti, MD:
This eye opening information points to the cause of many common problems and dysfunctions. The more this material is discovered and acknowledged, the better chance for understanding the cause, effectively treating it and stopping the cycle.
The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. Led by Co-principal Investigators Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, and Vincent J. Felitti, MD.
Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children