University Final Project
May 25, 2009
of Endearment or Terms of Destruction:
“Open terms of
endearment could be heard, witnessed and experienced a decade ago when a parent
or family member was addressing someone that was cherished. A sense of belonging, intimacy and protection
was felt and believed from experiential knowledge from such endearments” (
Scholl, 2006). Research presented will show
that psychologists found conclusive evidence pointing to inherent memory that
triggers past traumatic experiences causing severe reactions of an individual
when trauma triggers are present. What
once may have been a word of cherished endearment may now be a term of
destruction. Terms of endearment should be saved and protected within a safe
family environment where there are no secrets.
The whole family knows the name, origin of the term and context in which
it will be used. What was once held in
high esteem and attachment has been contaminated by other motivations. To comprehend how words of tender
meaning become destructive, a comprehensive
view of definitions, research showing
how terms of endearment can be triggers to traumatic events and the staggering
results of statistics showing trauma and abuse, will demonstrate the need for
refraining the use of these terms.
The encouragement to
refrain from the use of terms of endearment has been met with strong
opposition. Many refuse to accept the
society ills of abuse. Persons in the
medical and educational community argue that it is not possible to remember all patients/student’s names. In the general public people are offended when
asked to abstain from endearing terms with children they do not know. Others in the faith community argue that,
“The poor person/child needs love.” Or,
“Oh, I just have to love on this child/person.”
This statement is selfish in motivation to fill the need for the one
with the strong emotion to love, not the child/person with whom the endearment
is focused on. “A child/person that has
experienced trauma finds that their worst enemy is the well meaning person that
does not have all the facts” (Scholl, 2006). Yes, a person/child does need love
and endearments; however, those expressions have therapeutic value towards
healing when the primary caregiver uses such terms in a safe and healing
environment to enhance attachment and rebuild the ability to trust. (Thomas 1997).
A person will use terms
of endearment with the intent to engage in conversation or greeting, especially
with a child. Children are taught not to
talk with strangers. When someone
addresses a child with a term of endearment, without a prior relationship,
confusion is experienced for a child in not knowing how or if they should
respond. This interchange is out of the need and desire of the initiator and
does not meet a need in the recipient.
There is lack of intimacy within a relationship.
Intimacy is when two people are in a safe relationship
where reciprocal behavior is exchanged between the persons. There is a sense of security to allow this
other person to, Into Me See (transparent
enough for the other person to see (into me )the real me). Terms of endearment are an expression to
relay the message of being cherished.
“To cherish is to hold dear: feel or show affection for: Nurture. To keep or cultivate (to prepare for raising);
to foster growth of: to improve by care and affection. (A feeling or emotion; a
tender attachment) To harbor in the
mind deeply and resolute with what you are hearing. (Bold: steady) (Webster 2003).
“When a person experiences a stressful event that causes
emotional and physical effects of trauma, the reactions to this stress are
often brief; however, when this event threatens a life or severe injury occurs
(whether the victim or the witness to the event) the effects are more damaging
causing reactionary symptoms” (American Academy of Child & Adolescent
Psychiatry 1999). A well meaning person
sees an adorable child cups the cheeks commenting, “Oh, I just want to eat you
up!” can cause severe reaction in this child who has prior events of another
person grabbing the shoulder/ face area declaring,” I am going to beat you up.”
“A trigger is something that sets off a memory
tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original
trauma” (Grohol 2008). A lady at the
church social is loud and vibrant with an armful of love to give. This lady’s emotions are touched by the new
foster child in attendance. To show her
understanding of love, this lady welcomes the child, “Oh honey, we are so glad
you are here.” The fragrance of this
ladies perfume is the same as the child’s aunt who no longer could keep the
child. The feelings of rejection
resurface reminding the child of why she is no longer with her parent. The tone of pity throws this child back to
the moment of her trauma.
Memory is the ability of
the brain to store, retain, and subsequently recall information” (Science
Daily). The last time a particular child
was lured by, “Sweet heart, come here. I
have something for you,” the special attention was not a treat. The daycare worker using this same phrase,
while following the daily routing of snacks does not understand why the child
will not come. The coaxing to
participate reinforces the recalled memory embedding a belief that the worker
is not safe. Danger is near.
“Memories are a result from combining incoming information with
previous experiencing.” (Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner pg 206). A child walks into your home seeing you and
your spouse by the Christmas tree in the corner. She is asked to sit on the brown plaid sofa,
suddenly she goes numb. The memory of
another time is evoked and the emotions of that memory become too strong to handle. What should be a joyous occasion becomes unconscious
unawareness to the occasion. “These
experiences come from a common theme of sensory stimuli, producing just as
intense feelings in the present as it did during the original trauma” ( Triggers & Flashbacks).
“Our strongest and most vivid human memories are usually associated
with strong emotional events. These
events are associated with extreme fear, love and rage” (University of
Queensland 2008). A comforting sense of
awe sweeps over me during a thunderstorm.
Thunderstorms are a reminder of sitting on the back porch soaking in the
care and wonder of the storm with my father.
For my friend, she is terrified.
Her father would have them sit in the stair well until the storm was
over. In life experiences, I am the one
that faces the storm head on. She hides
till it is over. The strong tie to these
memories transfer into our real life experiences dictating a behavioral
response that is associated by these extreme emotions.
“Evoked memories and
emotions intertwine with what you are hearing, seeing and smelling, making your
perception of an event and therefore your experience of that event unique.”
(Schacter, Gilbert, Wenger pg 124). For the one who heard the term of endearment, sweet
heart, terror was instilled. The
fragrant perfume reinforces rejection from past memories of parental
abandonment. The brown sofa triggers
memory of violence with a vow, “never see” what is happening again. The thunderstorm brings peace or drives into
hiding. For each of these persons, their
experience is unique from any other person, drawing their own conclusions about
from the external world is received by the central nervous system. The central nervous system has several branch
systems that connect to the brain, body’s organs and muscles. The Somatic Nervous System conveys
information throughout the central nervous system. Humans have control over this system and use
it to perceive, think and coordinate their behaviors. The Sympathetic System (in the central nervous
system) controls the organs to take action and flee the situation or fight it.”
(Schacter, Gilbert, Wenger pg 87-88). A
child is in a doctor’s office during a routine exam. The nurse walks in and
calls the child sweetheart. The child’s
muscles tense, a head-ache starts and the child’s behavior is starting to
deregulate. Unaware to the medical
staff, this child had been someone’s special little sweet heart. Being another person’s sweetheart had
resulted in a trip to the doctor. The
smells of the medical office brings back the feelings of pain. On the way home
from the doctor the child lies down on the seat of the vehicle, trying to shut
out the memory. The parent arrives home
just in time for this child to run to the restroom and discard any earlier food
consumption of the day. The term of
endearment, the smells of the medical office link this external experience with
the internal world along with the perceptions and belief transferred to,” This
nurse is not safe for me to be around she will hurt me too.” The intent and motive of this medical
personnel was not to cause harm; however, for this child every encounter out of
home where specific terms of endearment are used reinforces the past trauma. The nausea feeling and headache results in
major eating disorder and lack of weight gain for this particular child. This is destruction to life.
When other motives get in the way of these cherished words of
endearment there is confusion to the individual with whom the terms are used.
This looks more like, “You are my special little….We have a secret. Don’t tell
anyone.” The context of this motivation
is to cover up a form of abuse. When a
child has been programmed to keep “the secret” panic arises when the child is
address by this same term by another person.
The question may arise, “Does this person know the secret? I will be in trouble.” Or,” Can I trust this person or do I have to
be their special little…also?” (Scholl 06)
When a child has done a disapproving act, the tone and phrase,
“Now sweetheart_____” demeans and belittles a child- it tears them down. “Oh Honey” gives the tone of pity. (Scholl 06) “Pity causes one to feel they are
regretted; beyond ones (adults) control, distressing emotion, a disappointment
(Webster 2003). Although a child fights for control, they do
not feel safe unless the adult can and does remain in respected position of
control (Thomas 1997). Most of these
usages depicts having authority over, manipulation, control and the suggestion
that the child is in some form of trouble.
It suggests having ownership of.
The symptoms of destruction come from inward personal conflict resulting
in outward behaviors from past abuse.
Abuse comes in the form of physical, emotional, sexual and mental, most
accompanied by a form of verbal abuse.
According to research and studies,
statistics are staggering windows into the epidemic proportions of abuse
in our culture. In a Domestic Violence
Overview: “Around the world at least one woman in ever three has been beaten or
abused in her lifetime. Physical
violence is estimated to occur in 4 to 6 million intimate relationships each
year in the United States. Up to 35% of women and 22% of men presenting to the
emergency department have experienced domestic violence.” (Newton 2009).
According to the RAINN (Rape, Abuse
& Incest National Network) 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under
the age of 12 years old. 7% of girls and
3% boys in grades 5-8 have been sexually abused. In 1995 the local child protective services
identified 126,000 children who were victims of substantial abuse. Of these, 75% were girls and 30% were
children between the ages of 4-7 years old.
Juvenile sexual assault victims know their attackers. 34.2% of attackers were family members. 58%
were acquaintances and only 7% were strangers (RAINN 2009). According to this research family members are
the main offenders of abuse. These same offenders warn children about dangers
in talking with strangers. Imagine the
fear and uncertainty when a stranger attempts to engage a child in greeting or
conversation. The adult with whom the
child should be protected by may be the very one performing the abuse. Do not
doubt that a child feels unsafe by a stranger using same terms of endearment that
are used by their offenders.
If you know a person, address them by their name. The name is theirs and shows respect for who
they are. If you do not know a child, a
smile of greeting is sufficient. The
definitions, research of memory that shows how terms of endearment can be
triggers to traumatic events and the staggering results of
statistics showing trauma and abuse, demonstrate the need for refraining the
use of terms of endearment.
statistics show devastation and destruction within the family unit where terms
of endearment should be used to nurture and protect. An adult in the community who uses these same
terms will enhance the destruction on the mind of this individual, producing
results of mistrust and possibly severe mental health issues. Life and healing will be void. Words
producing trauma triggers bring destruction. The worst enemy of a traumatized child/person
is the well meaning person who does not have all the facts especially in the
choice to engage conversation by using a term of endearment. Terms of endearment
should be saved and protected within a safe family environment.
References I apologise that the references will not cut and paste. For detailed references please send me an email an I will give them to you
- University of Queensland (2008, October 29). New Understanding Of
How We Remember
Traumatic Events. Science
Daily. Retrieved April 2, 2009. from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/0810281028103111.htm
Memory. Retrieved 4/2/09 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/article/m/memory.htm