The Abuser’s Brain


The abusive person’s behavior repulses most of us and leaves us wondering how anyone could do such denigrating and painful things to another person. We commonly feel very angry at abusers and judge them. In an effort to protect the recipients of the abuse we may have to intervene in ways that are painful for us, but also necessary.


Understanding the disruption in the abuser’s brain development can help us intervene in better ways and give us compassion for the abuser. However, the abusers still are accountable for their actions.


Dr. Paul Hegstrom was an abuser in a dire situation who realized he had to make different choices to change his behavior. His story inspires and educates in his book Broken Children, Grown-Up Pain (Revised): Understanding the Effects of Your Wounded Past.



Growing up in a home as a preacher’s kid he was developing normally until 9 years old when he was molested. He tried to tell his mom by saying the molestation happened to a kid down the street. She washed his mouth out with soap, told him to never mention it again and to never play with that boy again because he was tainted.


So, he had no one to turn to for help in healing from this traumatic event. Adding to his wounding in high school he experienced another molestation. As an adolescent his behavior became two-faced. At school his internal anxiety and anger stirred up trouble. At home he was the perfect son. His parents did not believe the reports about his behavior at school.


Entering into marriage at the young age of 19 he married his 17 year old bride. The day after the wedding the physical and emotional abuse of her began and continued for 17 years until he secretly divorced her.


From there he entered into other abusive relationships until he almost killed the last woman he was living with. Realizing what would happen to him in prison he fell on his “knees before God and cried out in pain and despair”. Fortunately he chose a recovery program but still blamed everyone else for everything initially, but then began to realize that the issues “were mine and mine alone”.


After hours of arguing with God his will broke. God could then speak to him and tell him that he was not teachable. But if he became teachable, then God could help him.


Dr. Hegstrom yielded to God and began his journey of healing, learning and research, completely turning his life around. His wife and family were eventually restored to him. He went to school and became an authority in the very thing that ruined his life and relationships in the past. Our weaknesses and what we learn from the process of recovery often become our very area of strength, wisdom and service to others.


And so it was for Dr. Paul and his wife Judy. They now help many others restore their broken relationships in their Life Skills International organization.


As with most disorders of the brain Dr. Paul believed lies. Exchanging the lies for the truth brings healing. Dr. Paul’s research revealed the abnormal brain development in the child that was abused and then he developed Bible based counseling and restoration for the disordered brain.


We will explore this fascinating research in the next article, The Abused Child Becomes the Abuser.


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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