The Abused Child Becomes the Abuser

Dr. Paul Hegstrom’s story follows the typical pattern of the abused child who becomes the abusive adult. Underneath all the abuse lies a brain that froze in childhood.



Wounds in childhood occur from:

  • Rejection
  • Incest
  • Molestation
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse


The wounded child’s emotions freeze at the time of wounding and lock up. Physically that child grows into an adult body, but he/she does not mature emotionally. So they act like a child when stressed.


A healthy child’s brain has very little of the brain neurotransmitters:

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine

So they think concretely, don’t recognize danger and act on impulse. That’s why God gives them parents and grandparents to keep them alive until they can discern danger and learn self-control


Around age 8 or 9 the child enters into puberty as the pituitary starts producing those necessary neurotransmitters that help the brain mature:

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine

In healthy brain development as the adolescent matures the teen-ager can start making more of their own decisions.


But in the wounded child at puberty the brain chemicals are blocked which keeps them from maturing emotionally even though they grow physically. And so their emotions remain arrested and stuck.


Unfortunately the wounded adult often realizes that he acts like a child when stressed and so feels very uncomfortable with adults. Just like children he has no impulse control and often escapes from the reality of life by distractions or addictions. He typically develops a pseudo personality to cope in an adult world like the Jekyll/Hyde, dual personality, or the double-minded man found in Scripture. He’s the picture of right living and may even be a hero at work, but at home the abusive nature explodes.


Wounded Adults may exhibit these characteristics:

  • Immature
  • Lacking impulse control
  • Lacking limits
  • Unstable
  • Unable to resolve issues
  • Desperate for freedom
  • Resistant of authority
  • Unhappy with job
  • Blames others


Wounded Woman may have these characteristics:

  • “Magical thoughts” in relationships
  • Looks for “bad boys”
  • Manipulates the man to meet her needs
  • But she cannot identify her emotional needs so she cannot express them
  • Expresses “wants” which are childish and self-centered


Wounded Man may have these characteristics:

  • Sees success as:
    • Handling money
    • Expressing his emotions sexually

    He’s seldom gentle

  • Uses the woman to rid himself of pent up emotions
  • Anger, rage, manipulation, power and control, childishness
  • Controls the money


However, Dr. Paul Hegstrom’s story provides hope for the abuser and the abused as they learn how today’s behaviors are rooted in childhood wounds that froze the brain in the abuser’s brain patterns. Recognizing and giving up the blame game and becoming teachable restarts the development of the brain. Relief from the underlying chronic anxiety stops the out pouring of adrenaline and the brain can heal.


From Dr. Paul’s web site:

  • Learning the Skills
  • If You’re Teachable, It’s Fixable
  • Getting the right information helps you choose to move forward.
  • Don’t believe the LIE that you are defective . . . dirty, damaged, and different
  • The Life Skills “Learning to Live, Learning to Love” curriculum restores people to their true identity and purpose in life.

Life Skills counsels in the healing process for a couple

  • Come out of denial – 98% of problems stem from issues before 9 years old
  • Discover where your flaws and mindsets are in the dating area.
  • Discover relationship patterns which repeat themselves so you can stop the vicious cycle

What is Life Skills?

When we learn why we do the things we do, we are able to focus on healing our wounds and changing our own behaviors. We will then begin to grow, mature, develop true character, and develop healthy relationships.

Life Skills will give you the information and tools you need to reach your fullest potential in any area of your life, including personal relationships.

We will help you break the cycle of family issues that go from generation to generation.

Life Skills International



Dr. Jo


About Dr. Jo

Dr. JoDr. Jo delights in sharing the message of health. She believes disease is optional if you know how to take care of yourself. And she’s a great coach to help you reverse or prevent disease.

So she writes this blog to keep you up to date with information that may undermine your health if you are not aware of it. She also provides tips on healthy living, how to reverse degenerative diseases, delicious recipes, and ways to enjoyably change your habits to healthy ones.

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