How Childhood Trauma Can Make You A Sick Adult

What we found in the ACE study involving seventeen
and a half thousand middle-class adults was that life experiences in childhood that are
lost in time and then further protected by shame and by secrecy and by social taboos
against inquiry into certain realms of human experience—that those life experiences play
out powerfully and proportionately a half century later, in terms of emotional state,
in terms of biomedical disease, in terms of life expectancy. In 1985, I first became interested
in developmental life experiences in early childhood really by accident. In the major
obesity program we were running, a young woman came into the program. She was twenty-eight
years old, and weighed 408 pounds, and asked us if we could help her with her problem.
And in fifty-one weeks, we took her from 408 to 132. And we thought, well my god, we’ve
got this problem licked. This is going to be a world-famous department here! She maintained
her weight at 132 for several weeks, and then in one three-week period regained 37 pounds
in three weeks, which I had not previously conceived as being physiologically possible.
That was triggered by being sexually propositioned at work by a much older man, as she described
him. And in short order, she was back over 400 pounds faster than she had lost the weight.
I remember asking her why the extreme response. After initially claiming not to have any understanding
of why the extreme response, ultimately she told me of a lengthy incest history with her
grandfather, from age 10 to age 21. Ultimately it turned out that fifty-five percent of the
people in our obesity program acknowledged a history of childhood sexual abuse. I mean,
that obviously is not the only issue going on, but it was where we began. And as we went
down that trail, then we discovered other forms of abuse, also growing up in massively
dysfunctional households, et cetera. The ACE study was really designed to see whether these
things existed at all in the general population, and if so, how did they play out over time? We studied 10 categories of adverse life experience
that were chosen because of their prevalence in the weight program: childhood sexual abuse,
heavy-duty childhood physical abuse—I’m not talking spanking—um, major emotional
abuse, recurrent humiliation, two categories of neglect, growing up in a home where, one
of the members of the household, uh, was chronically depressed, suicidal, mentally ill, or in the
state hospital; growing up in a home without both biological parents; growing up in a home
where, um, one of the members of your household was alcoholic or a drug user; growing up in
a home where mother was beaten; growing up in a home where one of the members of your
household was imprisoned during your childhood or adolescence. Those were the 10 categories.
In a middle-class population, one in 11 people has experienced six or more of those adverse
life experiences in childhood. So this is very common. Totally unrecognized.
It was difficult for us to accept their commonness. But on the other hand, these are issues that
most people never touch. And so who would know without routinely asking? But at a so-called
ACE score of six, experiencing any six of the ten categories that we studied, that person
was 4,600% more likely to become an IV drug user than a person who had experienced none
of those ten categories. Okay? Now, you know, you think, you read the newspaper, the latest
cancer scare of the week, prostate cancer or breast cancer increases 30%, and everyone
goes nuts. I’m talking 4,600% increase. The same ACE score of six produces a likelihood
of attempting suicide that is between 3,100% and 5,000% greater than the likelihood of
suicide attempts in someone with none of those life experiences. So the power of this relationship
is enormous. So ultimately the question arises: how do
life experiences in childhood end up with disease states a half century later? There
are at least two big categories to account for that. One is through the use of various
coping devices. One smokes to feel better; one overeats to feel better; one drinks to
relax, et cetera. And those things carried out in heavy amounts have major destructive
patterns, even though they may be immediately beneficial. The other broad category has to
do with the effect of chronic major unrelieved stress on the workings of one’s brain and
central nervous system. In recent years, this is relatively new, it’s become clear that
chronic major unrelieved stress can produce the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals
in a person’s body, and also can suppress immune system function. Of the ten categories
that we studied, any six of them produces a shortening in life expectancy of almost
twenty years. The magnitude of this problem is so huge, and the complexity of dealing
with it after the fact is so huge, that realistically, the only serious approach is going to have
to involve primary prevention. No one knows how to do that, but it’s the right question
to focus on.

About the author


  1. 9 out of 10! Only one out was imprisoned family member. Amazing how trashy people get to have children. Its all about sex, they are great at sex but when the baby comes thats it.

  2. You guys are f*** in the head, if you find pedophilia okay, you are f*** in the head as bad as they are. Period. For real.

  3. Have had some bad experience as a child. Really ashamed of it when someone raises their hand and I instinctively cover my face cause I think they'll beat me.

  4. This was integrated beautifully in The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk. It is the most pressing concern in our country, when we realize how many disfunctions of our president relate to childhood trauma and neglect in a world who would not protect him then, and is subject to him giving back the lies and abuse to us now.

  5. It can make you a sociopath. It can make you suicidal. It can make you sick. It can make you antisocial, angry, bitter, all kinds of things. It is hell.

  6. The ACE stuff is extremely important. But on weight it is known that people who lose it usually gain it back. You shouldn't for a second have thought you had the problem licked after a few weeks. There was zero evidence to support that belief.

  7. I wonder if I was sexually abuse because I'm constantly having thoughts about my cousin(who was abused by her father)and I can only remember certain images. But it is extremely exhausting, I'm tired of thinking about it but maybe it cant be helped😔

  8. He's describing everything about me! I'm 52 now and it's like all this is rushing back to me and I can't get help. No facilities around where I live. I feel like I'm losing my mind! I was a high functioning adult! College and a great job for 23 years, but now I'm struggling to even live! I'm not an alcoholic, not a drug user, but have colon problems, headaches, Vertigo from head beatings as a child. I'm tired all the time. The joy is gone from my life. 😢

  9. My therapist used the EMDR technique for some of my childhood abuse and it worked very well. Just make sure the therapist is experienced with this and knows what they are doing.

  10. Being from England I came into this video under the assumption that it would teach me how to turn my trauma into some mad skating skills or something

  11. Anthroposophical Therapies helped to heal my' ACE' 'symptoms', specifically Eurhythmy Therapy, Art Therapy, Clay Modelling and Stone Carving (very grounding, safe, gentle, empowering, artistic and I'm in charge of how fast or slow I choose to go, and supported by people who understand the forces inside the human being).

  12. It all starts with childhood. First time parents raise your child properly, upright, firmly, and awareful. Teach them about the world. Be involved but don't shelter and clutter them. A good Childhood carries through a kids life.

  13. What are the implications for the hundreds of million of circumcised men who were cut as a baby without anaesthia?

  14. Too bad the common doctors do not discuss this or treat their patients holistically so they can get to the bottom of their real healing needs

  15. It takes away part of your manhood. Takes away your joy. Takes away your ambition. Makes you not trust anyone. Makes you promiscuous. Makes you hate the world. It leads to drugs. Makes you extremely depressed. Makes you think of suicide. It gives you a terrible outlook on life..

  16. It's all well and good to say this but trying to fix is too hard. I feel a million pieces of me are shattered beyond repair. Why don't therapist understand that sometimes there is no way to make a person trust

  17. You can help trauma stress and maybe situational depression. You cant do much for clinical depression and other mental illness. They are genetic

  18. Yes,Your Childhood Can and usually scars you for life..Hurt people Hurt people and the cycle goes on and on until generations of families are extremely dysfunctional!

  19. I did not experience so much physical abuse but the most painful part of my childhood is sexual abuse my mother doesn’t know about it. Isuffered from bipolar and ptsd from what phidophilles have done to me the domestic abuse between parents do not affect me but the problem is when i remember how i was molested and raped is still traumatizing me and my social anxiety is getting worse if we can not handle it we have to reveal it my delusions are also getting worse i don’t want to become schizophrenic or suicidal because the ugly truth hurts i won’t reveal only not if mental heath profession knew about it.And i hope anxiety wont make fear worse.

  20. Plain, simple fact, Americans don't give a damned about their kids. They like to pretend they do but they really don't. This probably explains the obesity epidemic.

  21. I was a foster child in my teens started gaining because the home before lock us in a room could hear her kids have candy next home I could eat what I Want just the last 10 years starting to lose . Me thank God I waxent SEXY abused my food was my drug

  22. Every single day I recall a class where my teacher humiliated me. She first asked a few tall & handsome guys to translate "I am handsome and girls love me" from Polish into English. She then painted at me and told me to translate "I wish I was handsome". I was not good looking and I have always felt depressed about it. And now this blow. She never suffered any consequences. Every single day I dream of killing her (but I am not going to!!!).

  23. I was beaten, starved & more from age 2-10 years old. I didn't have children, I was never 'ready', this choice was the right one for me. I've been married twice, neither husband's had kids. I've been married for 18 years with my 2nd husband. I'm 46 years old & have started experiencing Flashbacks of the abuse. Mine is a twisted tale filled with trauma & misery that didn't stop at age 10. I stopped the cycle, by not having kids, I'm proud of my choice.

  24. What about going back farther? Behind most big doses of childhood trauma in the US, we find an equally hefty percentage of booze and/or illicit drugs meandering through a bloodstream or two. Just ask the first responder, police officer, public defender, parole officer, judge, clinician, local drug dealer, detox center, nearby bail bondsman, hidden away battered women's shelter or tow truck yard, neighborhood bartender, hospital ER, Uber driver, funeral parlor or county jailer. Without alcohol and drugs to fuel the trauma and abuse that creates anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders and disruptive and eventually criminal behavior that affect millions-and which sustains a litany of million and billion dollar industries, where would we be?
    QUESTION: If the American medical community and medical professionals at large classified alcoholism (AMA 1956) and addiction (1986) as a "disease", then why don't they treat it? Since 1930's when AA sprang to life, the entire medical community just gave up on alcoholism. To this day, medical research and medical assistance and treatment is relatively non-existent for the 30 million Americans who currently suffer from this terminal illness. Sadly, without treatment, all 30 million souls will die of their disease. Don't believe me? Wonder what I've been smoking? In comparison to the top 10 fatal diseases in America, medical professionals are doing nothing. Ask your doctor. Then imagine a bar tab in the Trillions of dollars. That's what the aftermath of overly intoxified individuals costs Americans every couple years.

  25. These diseases and disorders are intertwined with another, much larger disease/condition/disorder: Alcoholism and illicit drug addiction. No one wants to talk about it, it has a 100% mortality rate and medical scientists, doctors and healthcare experts and officials do nothing. Read on if you dare:

    My original QUESTION: If the American medical community and medical professionals at large classified alcoholism (AMA 1956) and addiction (1986) as a "disease", then why don't they treat it? Since 1930's when AA sprang to life, the entire medical community just gave up on alcoholism. To this day, medical research and medical assistance and treatment is relatively non-existent for the 30 million Americans who currently suffer from this terminal illness. Sadly, without treatment, all 30 million souls will die of their disease. Don't believe me? Wonder what I've been smoking? In comparison to the top 10 fatal diseases in America, medical professionals are doing nothing. Ask your doctor. Then imagine a bar tab in the Trillions of dollars. That's what the aftermath of overly intoxified individuals costs Americans every couple years. Public services such as EMT's, police and fire departments, government officials such as judges and attorneys and their staff, our penal system with 2.5 million prisoners, property damage due to burglary, theft, car crashes, domestic violence and violence, US Department of Defense "War on Drugs", the ATF, CIA and FBI involved with trafficking, seizure, arrests and equipment, productivity lost at work and school, hospital ER's every Friday and Saturday night, psychiatric services, Medicaid and Medicare, funeral costs, 1000's of caskets every day, I'm sure I left out a few $100b categories here. But make no mistake: we are paying TRILLIONS of DOLLARS for clean-up duty caused by a "disease" that our medical community refuses to address. Do the math. Add up the annual death rates, number of patients, research cost, medical treatment costs, factor in societal costs for the top 10 traditional most deadly diseases in US–heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke, influenza, Alzheimer's, liver disease, diabetes, kidney disease, COPD, septicemia, then add then all together, any which way you see fit. The total we spend on research and healthcare or the annual mortality rate of the entire top 10 list of deadly diseases is a fraction of the number of Americans dying right now from the "disease" of alcoholism and drug addiction. Keep in mind, it might take 5 or 20 years for the disease claim it's victim. Trillions and Trillions. Poke holes in this rant, argue facts, get pissed off, defend the medical community, do some research, prove me wrong. Although my credentials, experience and level of understanding are solid, my "reply" is subject to scrutiny. But one fact is not: the cost to endure, rather than cure the "disease" of addiction in America today is Trillions. Hundreds and thousands of billions are going up in smoke and down the drain every year or two.,

  26. Have you read the book called "In comfort of Mary" by Bethany Ford its on Amazon and when you look it up always put the authors name in as well as the title of the book and its now on YouTube now and you can read chapter one on YouTube now and it's all about healing and how to move on with your life after physical and emotional abuse which it relates to this case.

  27. I’ve come to realize that behavior that was absolutely normal 50 years ago, society is now condemning this as being mental-, sexual- or physical abuse. Severe physical punishment was a way to control kids, bad kids deserved to be corrected. Nowadays we know that this causes trauma. Same thing goes for neglect and sexual abuse.

  28. Nice video. Thanks. Ya, childhood sexual abuse can create some dark individuals. Wish I was alot more bright inside. However sadly I dont feel much. I'm not a psychopath. I'm just really use to a cold world without trust and being abused by humans. Wss told I was crazy, so got sent to the psych ward as a child. Than I was 23, and spent the night at my dads place and had him sneak into my room at 4am, the one time I didnt put s chair in the door. Great times. Now I dont trust anyone. Dont really care about people. He beat me to, and put me down constantly. I didnt smoke, didnt treat people badly, was shy and quiet. Was told I'm handsome. I worked hard, yet I spent my early adult life living in the worst part of the city, and becoming friends and dating prostitutes. That's where I thought I belonged. I also got along with prostitutes well since most of them came from trauma that was similar. Alot of them were good people that just had addictions and didnt care about the world either.

  29. I remember when i was 6 seeing a pamphlet with a little girl on the front. She looked very happy and i automatically was scared for her. I didnt know why, but now i do. When i was 6, i started gaining weight up until 2 years ago when i developed an eating disorder. Both my overeating and undereating have been triggered recently due to flashbacks to sexual trauma that occured when i was 2 or 3.

  30. Dear, Dr. Felitti, your presentation is if you had watched me as a child and saw the trauma I suffered. I had the major signs of a boy who had been sexually molested before the age of six. I had the stretch marks on my private part of an adult male involved with pornography when I was six years old. When I woke up to life I had these stretch marks and so whoever molested me did so possibly when I was a baby. Additionally, I was held back in the 3rd grade because of an inability to focus and learn. My mother told me I should have been put in treatment for depression when I was in grade school. Doctors would have seen the stretch marks, gym teachers, and swim teachers would have seen these stretch marks. The Child Protection Act of 1974 required teachers and doctors to report the sex abuse of children. I was in school in 1974. Nothing was ever reported, and I never received any treatment for the early childhood trauma I suffered. This has had a tremendous negative impact on my entire life. I believe it is possible I was sexually molested on purpose and there never was a plan to treat me for the trauma. I believe it is possible I was the object of a hate crime because I am a white heterosexual male of German Christian heritage and those that hate German males created a network whereby I would be degraded and ridiculed and they could advance themselves in comparison. The taboo of not discussing the sex abuse of a child had have played a major role in why no one said anything about the obvious signs I had of a boy that had been sexually molested.

  31. My grandmother sexually molested me for 3 years until I ratted on her. It was hell keeping that incest a secret. I want to kill myself around the clock. Don't want to, but so painful, feel so worthless. Feel like it's a matter of time and I will.

  32. I want to see and talk to you I grew up to two parents separated and when I lived with my father I fractured my skull fell off a slide at day care at the age of 3 and can't remember my childhood but can some. I found out when I was three a copy of newspaper article copy in my father's court papers.

  33. Big question is how do we spread AWARENESS about the severity of this vital information? Definitely for prevention but to medical professionals and like .I have been unable to work for the past 5 years as my health has been dramatically reduced and to such severity that I work in the same profession for almost two decades and once chronically ill had to seek assistance from disability insurance (which I paid into for 25 plus years ) and was denied multiple times with multiple doctors confirmation of disability due to the several medical conditions some being chronic and had to appeal , once in front of appellant judge he degraded me , spoke with sarcasm , and sent me into emotional relapse and fibro flare along with traumatic triggers related to PTSD. He denied my claim , it took 4 years to get an answer for my claim . This was not justice. I still have conditions unresolved ,undiagnosed, and suffering daily both physically and emotionally. Is this even real life that im living ?

  34. It is hard to deal with getting sexually abuse I was when I was kid for 6 years or and more by the years the first be sexually abuse me I thought it was over it was not the second one does as arose and then the third I got rape by brother friend I’m 12 it hurts still I mean I don’t have no trust even with family i fight a lot and to bring it all I abuse by parents they hit me but still we are trying are best to get rid of that we trying to help our selfs it’s really hard like me I don’t use that as excuse it hurts tho 12 years old this happens to a lot people

  35. Thank you for this critically essential study. I am a psychologist who works with those suffering from obesity and also those who deal with addictions (food, sex, alcohol/drugs, etc.). I stress the need to deal with the ACES. Most professionals do NOT want to acknowledge this as a factor that affects weight, addiction, etc. Those of us who know will continue to work to educate those who also need to know!

  36. My score would be 8. Thank you for the confirmation and being able to listen to this spoken out loud. I am now 51 with no children, living in another country away from all of my family. I renewed my faith in Jesus last year and found my joy, while experiencing real unconditional love with Him. I have true peace for the first time in my entire life.
    God bless you all who are here for the same reason I am. Acknowledgement.
    May you ALL find your Joy and Peace.

  37. It's not a disorder. It's a different reality. Truth is the ones who weren't abused as a kid could never understand how it felt. We live in 2 completely different worlds. And it's not all the same. Its a spectrum of abuse. From incest, rape, covert incest, emotional incest, verbal abuse, physical, psychological, neglect..etc. People will tell you have a disorder when it's not true. A disorder is relative to what you're comparing it too. Truth is we have seen a dark place and have lived to tell about it, but truth is social media and the world can't accept it. They put us on medication, label us handicapped, mental, too stupid.

  38. It totally messed me up… I felt not like my peers bcuz i knew that what happened wasnt right and i became suicidal and cut myself so much and i became so confused and on top of that there was being physically hurt and i couldn't even speak to begin with and i was scared of everything my whole life and couldn't speak and then being hurt and id rather not say but even some friends would do this and just i dont trust ppl and I am totally confused by life and what ppl will do to one another idk what think about ppl and im still scared of them

  39. Im antisocial i dont like big gatherings unles im with ppl i know i only pitty my kids i worry so much about them this behaviour can b delt with im healed i used to do things im bipolar with emotions but i try not to let them get in the way i have a wonderful husband i think messed up tho i waz verbaly abusive emotionaly abused alot inused to b suicidal but now im terified of dyeing im into jesus i just feel alot of ppl dont like being around me so i stay home alot i feel like ppl talk about me or stare to much i get angry sometimes im like why do u have to stare i get anxeity n angry in public sometimes so i stay home with my husband of almost 5 years im still dealing with stress n constant thinking

  40. All this suggests to me that bringing up a child to be healthy, both physically and emotionally, is a lottery.
    It is the luck of the draw and there are no certainties.
    The one human thing we should cultivate is a tolerance and sympathy for anyone struggling with their life.
    Why make scapegoats of victims?

  41. Angels are manipulating the masses
    Guiding them to the fall
    They like when humans fall
    People listen and turn to god when they fall
    Exactly what the angels want
    Then they are in control

  42. thank you, first video from your channel ive seen. the science and stats help me so much to understand what happened to me and why my family members are the way they are. i look forward o exploring your channel. Subscribed.

  43. For me it was the opposite I started working out and taking boxing classes and people stopped bullying me and I realized the stronger I am the less likely I am to be sexually assaulted bullied or abused again and I worked out so much but I had a massive spike in blood pressure and almost caused myself to have a heart attack being swolo won't help you if you're dead

  44. That moment when. A child is crying at midnight, outside and 2 boys can hear her but they don't say anything nor care. They keep smoking. Then her mom comes back from strolling off and she goes inside with her, crying. And she gets beat up.

  45. I'm curious what years as a child and into a teenager and into an adult of watching Gore, murders, beheadings, tortures, suicides, humans doing horrible things to one another…all that messed up shit for years. Does it do anything to one's psyche? I've come to think that the only people that should see that are the ones committing those horrible actions. If the eyes are gateways to the soul then what do those images do to a person? I've got quite a few issues and I'm curious if anything could be related, like giving yourself PTSD. Not to add that my life outside the computer was also abusive from my father for 15yrs..just makes me wonder. Any opinions?

  46. Surprisingly I got therapist from someone i didn't expect. She made me cried a lot and I hate that, because I recently find myself to feel uncomfortable with sympathy, feels like some people looked at me like I'm a weak or weird person. She's not even a professional therapist…I mean someone with official licence . It doesn't mean I'm being sceptisism towards her. I just…got shocked.
    Maybe also because I know she's not angry with my uncertain and unforgivable behavior. Despite what I did, she still care even though she's dealing with a crazy person like me. And maybe, she doesn't hate me. I recently realise that I shouldn't care if stranger hates me. but if for example it feels like my families begin to hate me, well…I have feelings myself…so, I'd rather ignore or keep my distance away so that I won't have the same hatred, I'll focus myself to my hobby. But it's getting complicated, I don't feel relax in my parent's house just to avoid some uncomfortable situation. I myself doesn't like to be like this, but This feeling is not a lie.

  47. ❤💙💚💛💜❤💙💚💛💜❤

    Please find time to join these 5 groups on facebook; they'll change your life❗❗❗


    GROUPS –

    🈳 1. DIVINE DINER.

    🈶 2. WISDOM WARD.




    Join now, and keep growing inside and out❗❗❗ if you would like to support with a cash offering; please cash app it to – "kojo143 ".

    💞💗💞 INSPIRE❗❗❗ 💞💗💞

    CARE 2 SHARE⁉⁉⁉

  48. Was born a middle child, I don't have happy memories playing with my siblings, I was constantly bullied. My parents maltreated me as well. No one in my family really liked me, they all humiliated me even infront of other people. Until now I never see them sincere about me, I am also happier when I am away from them.

  49. I'm watching this today because I've been aware and ACTIVELY working on healing from/overcoming childhood trauma. My ACE score is 7. There have been pockets of time where I feel strong and can live a "normal" life, but without fail I fall into a valley. It is discouraging to struggle with the same issues after YEARS of working on yourself. I feel like I'm fooling myself to think/hope/try to be something other than a childhood trauma survivor. Like, in the end, I feel like I can't do it on my own yet there is no one to carry me when I'm weak…as usual.

  50. You can either seek help for your issues of take all of your traumas out on an innocent child. Hell, that's what all of the adults in my family (except me) have done. Every adult will shorten an innocent child's life all to make themselves feel better. Ironically, my KARMA doesn't play that shit. Catchem and killem KARMA. I love karma, She knows how to destroy CHILD ABUSERS. 👿

  51. 3:38 How about if you grow up in an extended family and rarely saw your parents because they worked all the time? And no one asked you anything about what's going on with your life, including what's happening at school, either academically or socially. I assume that would be the same as growing up without both biological parents, even if both parents physically lived in same household. Some dysfunctional families are just more subtle. To this day, my family would probably argue they weren't dysfunctional, though I disagree, although I can't bring this up, since I can't communicate with them about such matters and be heard without an argument, and I was always the only one who supposedly "had problems." I spent my whole life feeling there was something wrong with me, but there really wasn't. I just wasn't guided or taught and was therefore terribly lost.

  52. I wrote a novel about a young man who faces emotional (and some physical) abuse. He strives to find self-worth. He faces hardship, makes hard decisions, and reshapes himself to become a loving adult. WHEN THE COIN IS IN THE AIR is getting good reviews, check Amazon–I hope it helps. John Young

  53. If you can’t express empathy & are unable to understand emotions of another, get help, before you ruin someone’s life. You are dangerous until you learn how to do this & IT CAN BE LEARNED!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *