4810 Nicollet Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN, 55419

651-485-1151

Life Love Healing Wellness Center works with individuals, couples and families in the Minneapolis, MN area including these counseling service areas: couples counseling, love addiction, sex addiction, codependency, Enneagram, healthy relationships, other addictions and more. 

Resources

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Our "Bad Deal" Relationship Template

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Most couples have the same fight over and over again. These seemingly endless, irresolvable, repetitions are the templates of our unsuccessful relating strategies. They are a vicious cycles that dig us in deeper and deeper, eating up, over the years, more and more of the goodwill and connection we start off with. Terry Real calls this a couple's "Bad Deal." 

Where Does your Bad Deal Come From?

Our Bad Deals replay some aspect of the relationships we grew up in. Our parents fought, sometimes fair, sometimes not, sometimes there was no couple in our home growing up, we had only dad, mom or another significant parental figure. It's fair to say none of our caregivers were perfect, in fact many were far from it, within the confines of their primary relationships. If you look at your parents relationship style and think "I certainly don't want that" then you have some skills to learn. We recreate what we know, hence the relationships we observed growing up become our early love map and template for later life. 

Are we doomed?

Only if we want to be. While we recreate what we know, we do so in hopes to heal it. When couples I work with become conscious of this it changes the script. The initial draw to a partner is from our core wounding meaning; we find someone who is similar enough to our parent or parents, who we can play out our unresolved childhood drama with. The flip side is this person is different enough from our parents, that we have a chance at cracking the code, and healing our wounds, if we get very aware. 

Awareness Doesn't Just Happen

Have you ever heard the saying you are better at judging other's problems than you are at judging your own? Well it's true. Step one is accepting that you do not have the answers to your marital or relationship problems. In fact, the answers you have are how to reinforce and trigger the problems. These are all the answers you need when you work with a skilled therapist. My job is to help you see things from a new perspective. The world is no longer flat, you may not want to accept it but we will find the new answers over time together through different awareness building techniques. Willingness and openness also help the therapeutic process a long as well. Once we are in a place of not knowing what our problems solutions are, we become open to the possibility of healing. 

Ultimately You Do The Work

As much as I would love to offer client's a magic solution, there isn't one. Reparenting ourselves starts with awareness, skill building and ultimately practice. Surrender is the first step in healing, when we stop fighting the urge to get what we never got from our parents, from our partner, we suddenly and profoundly become open to what is actually available to us. 

Couples Core Negative Image Stepping Out of your "Bad Deal"

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Core Negative Image or CNI is our vision of our partners in their most difficult, irrational and least loving moments. When we move into "you always" or "you never" with our partner we are no longer arguing with each other but rather our caricatured version of our partner. When we move into this space with our partners we are in fact living out our early childhood wounding or false empowerment. This "Bad Deal" argument we consistently/continuously have with our partners represents a fight we never finished in childhood and that we didn't get growing up. 

Without fail, each one of us chooses a mate who fits our unresolved issues. As Terry Real author of "The New Rules of Marriage" informs us that we all marry our "unfinished business."You may think the relationship does not bring up every hurt and anger you've ever carried inside, but it does. Doing so allows us to re-create the old struggle, to attempt to be heard, appreciated and most important to get the outcome that we never got as children. The hoax is in believing this will actually happen. As a result of our screwed up thinking in relationships, humans tend to see their partners through a lens of distortion. We attribute characteristics to our partners that set them up for failure through the manifestation of a core negative image. One benefit to couples knowing this is that they can start to use this information for good rather than what it is generally used for. Your Partners CNI can serve as your relationship compass, it will always point out the opposite direction from your goal. 

The Following are five strategies outlined by Terry Real to help couples do this:

1. Make each other's CNI's explicit

2. Acknowledge the truth in each other's CNI's 

3. Identify CNI-busting behaviors

4. Use CNI's as your compass

5. Set up dead-stop contracts. 

These are strategies designed to be used and integrated in couples therapy. More to come in next weeks post! 

 

Signs of Love Addiction

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Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction (a partial list)

  1. Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
  2. Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
  3. Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
  4. We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or being rescued.
  5. We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone.  Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.
  6. We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy.  We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care, and support.
  7. We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.
  8. We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies.
  9. We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable.
  10. We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities.
  11. To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual and emotional anorexia for recovery.
  12. We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.
  13.  

Cycle of Love Addiction

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The Love Addicts Attraction to what is familiar:

We are taught how to have intimacy and attachment by our family, specifically our primary caregivers; mom and dad. How our parents relate to us, our siblings, and each other, becomes very familiar to us as children. It creates a template for future relationships and intimacy. As we grow up and look for our own partner we are attracted, unconsciously or consciously to what we know and are familiar with.

Most of us did not get all the things we need when we needed them, many of us had large gaps in intimacy, relatedness, and very little guidance on how to identify our needs and find healthy ways to get them met. As a result of family of origin teachings, we learned to be quiet, alone, needless or wantless. By doing so we were rewarded. We were not told we were not a bother by our parents, and as a result of such conditioning we later unconsciously attract people with similar unconscious patterns of disconnected attachment.

The people we are attracted to usually are involved in one or more addictions. They may appear on the outside to take care of themselves because the are so “busy” and “intense”. In reality we choose the very people who don’t have the time or desire to provide us with healthy connections, those who do not prioritize the relationship over outside addictions such as work, alcohol, busyness, gambling, sex etc.

Abandonment in childhood by early caregivers in many forms fuels the message for love addicts that they are not worth being with. As a result love addicts find people who are walking away from them as very attractive. Attempts to resolve the issue of self-esteem are played out in relationship with the hope that what we could not solve as children-making the abandoning person connect with us - can now be achieved. We can finally balance the ledger and restore our own sense of preciousness, of worthiness by fixing what could not be fixed in our childhood.

The Way Out

Love addiction, like other addictions, does not have a “quick fix” we do not get better before we thoroughly examine our lives, our relationships and our realities. Boundaries are blurred, self-esteem is non-existent and acknowledging our needs and wants becomes almost impossible. We are sick, and powerless to improve our lives without the support and help of others. I have yet to see an addict recover on their own, we heal through experiences with others. The support of a therapist, 12-step groups and personal recovery planning are needed to successfully incorporate healthy love into our lives. Reprogramming our experience of relationships is necessary to have fulfilling, authentic love in our lives. 

Sexual Addiction Screening Test

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  1. Were you sexually abused as a child or adolescent?
  2. Have you regularly subscribed to or regularly purchased sexually explicit materials?
  3. Did either of your parents have trouble with sexual behavior (repress or act inappropriate)?
  4. Do you often find yourself being preoccupied with sexual thoughts?
  5. Do you (ever) feel that your sexual behavior is inappropriate?
  6. Does your spouse or significant other ever worry or complain about your sexual behavior?
  7. Do you have trouble stopping your sexual behavior when you know it is inappropriate?
  8. Do you ever feel bad (shameful or guilty) about your sexual behavior (and then rationalize it)?
  9. Has your sexual behavior ever created problems for you or your family (physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually)?
  10. Have you ever sought help for sexual behavior you did not like or caused problems?
  11. Have you ever worried about people finding out about your sexual activities?
  12. Has anyone (ever) been hurt emotionally because of your sexual behavior?
  13. Are any of your sexual activities against the law?
  14. Have you made promises to yourself to quit some aspect of your sexual behavior?
  15. Have you made efforts to quit a type of sexual behavior and failed?
  16. Do you hide (or have you ever hidden) some aspects of your sexual behavior from others?
  17. Does your sexual behavior put you at odds with your personal or spiritual values/integrity?
  18. Have you ever felt degraded by your sexual behavior or affair?
  19. Has sex been a way for you to escape your problems (or self medicate)?
  20. When you have sex, (that you question), do you often feel depressed afterward?
  21. Have you felt (or do you now feel) the need to discontinue a certain form of sexual activity?
  22. Has your sexual activity interfered with your family life?
  23. Have you been sexual with minors (or vulnerable adults)?
  24. Do you often feel controlled by your sexual desire?
  25. Do you frequent pornographic web sites or chat rooms
  26. Do you tend to sexualize others
  27. Do you rationalize your sexual behavior?

 

  1. Check yes or no to the above. Affirmative answers to 12 or more questions strongly suggest that sex is being used like a drug of choice and may be an addiction.


    * Based on the SAST by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. and Brenda Schaeffer's SAST, with permission and includes some adaptations and additions.

The Laundry List How Do You Rate?

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The Laundry List – 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We became addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity and tend to "love" people we can "pity" and "rescue."
  10. We have "stuffed" our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
  13. Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
  14. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

Tony A., 1978

Note: The Laundry List serves as the basis for The Problem statement.

The Flip Side of The Laundry List

  1. We move out of isolation and are not unrealistically afraid of other people, even authority
  2. figures.
  3. We do not depend on others to tell us who we are.
  4. We are not automatically frightened by angry people and no longer regard personal criticism as a threat.
  5. We do not have a compulsive need to recreate abandonment.
  6. We stop living life from the standpoint of victims and are not attracted by this trait in our important relationships.
  7. We do not use enabling as a way to avoid looking at our own shortcomings.
  8. We do not feel guilty when we stand up for ourselves.
  9. We avoid emotional intoxication and choose workable relationships instead of constant
  10. upset.
  11. We are able to distinguish love from pity, and do not think “rescuing” people we “pity” is an act of love.
  12. We come out of denial about our traumatic childhoods and regain the ability to feel and express our emotions.
  13. We stop judging and condemning ourselves and discover a sense of self-worth.
  14. We grow in independence and are no longer terrified of abandonment. We have interdependent relationships with healthy people, not dependent relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable.
  15. The characteristics of alcoholism and para-alcoholism we have internalized are identified, acknowledged, and removed.
  16. We are actors, not reactors.

The Other Laundry List

  1. To cover our fear of people and our dread of isolation we tragically become the very authority figures who frighten others and cause them to withdraw.
  2. To avoid becoming enmeshed and entangled with other people and losing ourselves in the process, we become rigidly self-sufficient. We disdain the approval of others.
  3. We frighten people with our anger and threat of belittling criticism.
  4. We dominate others and abandon them before they can abandon us or we avoid relationships with dependent people altogether. To avoid being hurt, we isolate and dissociate and thereby abandon ourselves.
  5. We live life from the standpoint of a victimizer, and are attracted to people we can manipulate and control in our important relationships.
  6. We are irresponsible and self-centered. Our inflated sense of self-worth and self-importance prevents us from seeing our deficiencies and shortcomings.
  7. We make others feel guilty when they attempt to assert themselves.
  8. We inhibit our fear by staying deadened and numb.
  9. We hate people who “play” the victim and beg to be rescued.
  10. We deny that we’ve been hurt and are suppressing our emotions by the dramatic expression of “pseudo” feelings.
  11. To protect ourselves from self punishment for failing to “save” the family we project our self-hate onto others and punish them instead.
  12. We “manage” the massive amount of deprivation we feel, coming from abandonment within the home, by quickly letting go of relationships that threaten our “independence” (not too close).
  13. We refuse to admit we’ve been affected by family dysfunction or that there was dysfunction in the home or that we have internalized any of the family’s destructive attitudes and behaviors.
  14. We act as if we are nothing like the dependent people who raised us.

The Flip Side of The Other Laundry List

  1. We face and resolve our fear of people and our dread of isolation and stop intimidating others with our power and position.
  2. We realize the sanctuary we have built to protect the frightened and injured child within has become a prison and we become willing to risk moving out of isolation.
  3. With our renewed sense of self-worth and self-esteem we realize it is no longer necessary to protect ourselves by intimidating others with contempt, ridicule and anger.
  4. We accept and comfort the isolated and hurt inner child we have abandoned and disavowed and thereby end the need to act out our fears of enmeshment and abandonment with other people.
  5. Because we are whole and complete we no longer try to control others through manipulation and force and bind them to us with fear in order to avoid feeling isolated and alone.
  6. Through our in-depth inventory we discover our true identity as capable, worthwhile people. By asking to have our shortcomings removed we are freed from the burden of inferiority and grandiosity.
  7. We support and encourage others in their efforts to be assertive.
  8. We uncover, acknowledge and express our childhood fears and withdraw from emotional intoxication.
  9. We have compassion for anyone who is trapped in the “drama triangle” and is desperately searching for a way out of insanity.
  10. We accept we were traumatized in childhood and lost the ability to feel. Using the 12 Steps as a program of recovery we regain the ability to feel and remember and become whole human beings who are happy, joyous and free.
  11. In accepting we were powerless as children to “save” our family we are able to release our self-hate and to stop punishing ourselves and others for not being enough.
  12. By accepting and reuniting with the inner child we are no longer threatened by intimacy, by the fear of being engulfed or made invisible.
  13. By acknowledging the reality of family dysfunction we no longer have to act as if nothing were wrong or keep denying that we are still unconsciously reacting to childhood harm and injury.
  14. We stop denying and do something about our post-traumatic dependency on substances, people, places and things to distort and avoid reality.

Relationship Assessment: Test Yourself

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Is it Love or is it Addiction? How Does Your Relationship Rate?

With a specific love relationship in mind, carefully read first the characteristics of addictive love, then those of healthy love. Score your relationship for each addictive love characteristic based on the following scale: 0 = never; 1 = rarely; 2 = sometimes; 3 = often; 4 = almost always; 5 = always. Then score yourself for healthy love.

Addictive Love
____ Feels all-consuming or energy draining
____ Difficulty defining ego boundaries
____ Has elements of sadomasochism
____ Fears letting go
____ Fears risk, change the unknown
____ Allows little individual growth
____ Lacks deep intimacy or trust
____ Manipulates to get needs met
____ Gives to get something back
____ Attempts to change or control the partner
____ Needs partner to feel complete
____ Seeks solutions outside of self
____ Demands and expects unconditional love
____ Refuses or abuses commitment
____ Looks to partner for affirmation worth
____ Fears abandonment upon routine separation
____ Re-creates familiar negative feelings
____ Desires, yet fears, closeness
____ Attempts to "take care" of partner's feelings
____ Plays power games ("one-upmanship")

Healthy Love
____ Allows for individuality and energizes
____ Experiences both oneness and separateness
____ Brings out the best qualities in both partners
____ Accepts endings
____ Open to change and exploration
____ Invites growth in both partners
____ Experiences deep intimacy/feels safe
____ Freedom to ask honestly for what is wanted
____ Giving and receiving are one and the same
____ Does not attempt to change or control partner
____ Encourages self-sufficiency of partner
____ Accepts limitations of self and partner
____ Is unconditionally loving
____ Can make and honor commitments
____ Has high self-esteem and sense of well-being
____ Trusts memory of beloved; enjoys solitude
____ Expresses feelings spontaneously
____ Welcomes closeness, risks vulnerability
____ Cares, but can remain detached
____ Affirms equal personal power


Now, add the scores for each list and divide by twenty to get a numerical average for each. Does your relationship exhibit more symptoms of trouble than of health? 

Love Addiction Assessment

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Love Addiction Questionnaire

By Brenda Schaeffer  

Write yes or no to the questions below. Any yes answer indicates some degree of unhealthy dependency or addiction. But, please, let go of blame or guilt. Love addiction seems to be a fact of life. Most, if not all, relationships give evidence of some of these signs. And there is both healthy and unhealthy dependency. 

  1. Do you ever feel as though you take care of others even though it hurts you? 
  2. Are you afraid or hesitant to talk about problems in your relationship? 
  3. When you do discuss problems, do you seem to get nowhere? 
  4. Do you feel like you are growing or want to grow and the relationship is not? 
  5. Do you say yes when you want to say no? 
  6. Do you rationalize away the things you don’t like in your relationship? 
  7. Do you ever feel like you both want and don’t want to be in the relationship? 
  8. Have you ever thought of leaving the relationship and been too afraid? 
  9. Do you or the other person every get close and then pull back? 
  10. Do you experience holding out in your relationship? 
  11. Does how the other person in the relationship feel change your mood or self-esteem? 
  12. Does the person’s behavior change your self-esteem or mood? 
  13. Do you enable, persecute or feel like a victim? 
  14. Do you struggle for power or control? 
  15. Do you try to change the other person or the other person try to change you? 
  16. Do you wonder what a healthy relationship is? 
  17. Do you have any negative thoughts about men/women, relationships? 
  18. Do you disregard your values to please someone? 
  19. Do you fear risk, change or the unknown? 
  20. Do you experience repeated negative feelings? 
  21. Do you suffer from separation or disapproval anxiety?
  22. Do you let abusive people remain in your life? 
  23. Do you fear being alone?
  24. Are your boundaries weak or rigid?
  25. Do you expect or demand unconditional love?
  26. Do you or those you are attracted to abuse or refuse commitment?
  27. Do you fail to stop others from violating your boundaries?
  28. Do you adapt to others to keep them around?
  29. Do you look to others to fulfill you?
  30. Do you become intimate before you have established trust?

Building Trust Among Your Tribe

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Want your best relationship ever? Read on for ways to strengthen your relationships. 

1. Make a Commitment to Growth: therapy, like the gym, works best if you go before the “cat hits the fan.” Seeing a therapist one time a month is an affordable way to do relationship maintenance. Think of it this way, we get the most joy from our relationships when they are good; it is fair to say, when they are not good, theopposite is true. Many successful businesses incorporate consultation, and the same can be said for successful marriages. 

2. Turn towards Your Tribe: State your needs, be aware of bids for connection and respond to (turn towards) them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationship

3. Know Your Tribe: know your partner and your children. Know their likes and dislikes. Create rituals together that are just for the tribe. You are only as strong as your weakest link, and if one of the members of your tribe is hurting, the rest are affected.

4. Create Tribal Traditions: Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationships. Create shared meaning, what makes your unit unique? How do the people you call ‘family’ know you unlike anyone else?

5. Manage Inner Tribe Conflict: conflict is a part of life, the sooner you learn how to have effective conflict, the better your relationships will operate. Every relationship has perpetual problems, and every relationship has solvable ones. The key is managing these areas in effective ways.

6. Create an Atmosphere of Trust: trust is paramount in all relationships. Providing your partner and family with an atmosphere that maximizes individual and group needs creates an unbreakable foundation for healthy relating.

7. Renew Commitment to your Tribe: we renew contracts, lease agreements and other legally binding relationships in our life without question of their necessity. Relationships should be the same. Revisiting your goals for the year, growth and family gains (i.e. emotional, physical, spiritual) can be an empowering way to recognize growth, and renegotiate change. Trust me. You won’t regret this! 

Watch this video to learn more about building trust.

Knowing your Trauma is the first Step

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Got Your ACE Score?  (Adverse childhood experiences)

The information provided was taken directly from Jane Ellen Stevens' website  

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

ACE Assessment

Answer the questions below to determine your ACE score.

Prior to your 18th birthday:
Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason ?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was your mother or stepmother:
Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did a household member go to prison?
No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _

This is your ACE Score
__________________________

The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems. (Of course, other types of trauma exist that could contribute to an ACE score, so it is conceivable that people could have ACE scores higher than 10; however, the ACE Study measured only 10 types.)

As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.

(By the way, lest you think that the ACE Study was yet another involving inner-city poor people of color, take note: The study’s participants were 17,000 mostly white, middle and upper-middle class college-educated San Diegans with good jobs and great health care – they all belonged to the Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization.)

For more Information about the ACE Score click here.

The information provided was taken directly from Jane Ellen Stevens' website.