Toxic Stress: Linking Historical Trauma to the Contemporary Health of American Indians and Alaska Natives

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/228498
Title:
Toxic Stress: Linking Historical Trauma to the Contemporary Health of American Indians and Alaska Natives
Author:
Begay, Tommy K., Jr.
Issue Date:
2012
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Embargo:
Release after 10-Nov-2012
Abstract:
The legacy of historical trauma continues to plague Indigenous populations throughout the world. This theoretical dissertation describes how biology (neurodevelopment, neurobiology and endocrinology) and culture (inter-generationally learned behaviors) are intricately intertwined in the development of dysfunctional coping behaviors that contribute to stress-related chronic diseases (heart disease, obesity, type II diabetes mellitus, depression, neurodegenerative disorders and memory impairment) in some individuals. The primary impact of the many episodes of historically traumatic genocide has been post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the onset of dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis). PTSD has had a profound impact on relationships and behaviors, while dysregulation of the HPA-axis is associated with pathophysiology. It is well documented that historical trauma has caused a cultural disconnect from traditional wellness and healing practices. Despite incredible resiliency, the result of this legacy has been a genesis of intergenerational, dysfunctional, coping strategies that have become subtly engrained in a viscous cycle of self-perpetuating, self-inflicting, dysfunctional behaviors that have been carried forward into the next generation as "toxic stress" - in the form of childhood abuse, domestic violence, interpersonal violence, and substance abuse. With time, the association to the initial traumatic assault erodes, leaving behind, collectively, a fragmented society that, in many places, has become the basis for a "cultural crisis". The approach presented in this dissertation is founded upon: 1) cultural acquisition theories that describe how existing cultural constructs and traditions are internalized by children and repeated throughout a life-time into the next generation; and 2) understanding the interaction of the autonomic nervous system (specifically, the HPA-axis and its activation by stress) and the neocortex, the basis for higher psychological processes associated with learning and cultural acquisition. This dissertation offers an explanation for the continued impact of historically traumatic events on the contemporary health and wellness of American Indian and Alaska Native people. It is hoped that this approach leads to specific intervention and prevention measures that are culturally relevant in addressing pathophysiology, cognitive-behavioral issues and the collective cultural changes that have ensued as a result of historical trauma.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Culture; Historical Trauma; Toxic Stress; Language, Reading & Culture; American Indian Health; Cultural Psychology
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Language, Reading & Culture
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Ruiz, Richard

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleToxic Stress: Linking Historical Trauma to the Contemporary Health of American Indians and Alaska Nativesen_US
dc.creatorBegay, Tommy K., Jr.en_US
dc.contributor.authorBegay, Tommy K., Jr.en_US
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.releaseRelease after 10-Nov-2012en_US
dc.description.abstractThe legacy of historical trauma continues to plague Indigenous populations throughout the world. This theoretical dissertation describes how biology (neurodevelopment, neurobiology and endocrinology) and culture (inter-generationally learned behaviors) are intricately intertwined in the development of dysfunctional coping behaviors that contribute to stress-related chronic diseases (heart disease, obesity, type II diabetes mellitus, depression, neurodegenerative disorders and memory impairment) in some individuals. The primary impact of the many episodes of historically traumatic genocide has been post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the onset of dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis). PTSD has had a profound impact on relationships and behaviors, while dysregulation of the HPA-axis is associated with pathophysiology. It is well documented that historical trauma has caused a cultural disconnect from traditional wellness and healing practices. Despite incredible resiliency, the result of this legacy has been a genesis of intergenerational, dysfunctional, coping strategies that have become subtly engrained in a viscous cycle of self-perpetuating, self-inflicting, dysfunctional behaviors that have been carried forward into the next generation as "toxic stress" - in the form of childhood abuse, domestic violence, interpersonal violence, and substance abuse. With time, the association to the initial traumatic assault erodes, leaving behind, collectively, a fragmented society that, in many places, has become the basis for a "cultural crisis". The approach presented in this dissertation is founded upon: 1) cultural acquisition theories that describe how existing cultural constructs and traditions are internalized by children and repeated throughout a life-time into the next generation; and 2) understanding the interaction of the autonomic nervous system (specifically, the HPA-axis and its activation by stress) and the neocortex, the basis for higher psychological processes associated with learning and cultural acquisition. This dissertation offers an explanation for the continued impact of historically traumatic events on the contemporary health and wellness of American Indian and Alaska Native people. It is hoped that this approach leads to specific intervention and prevention measures that are culturally relevant in addressing pathophysiology, cognitive-behavioral issues and the collective cultural changes that have ensued as a result of historical trauma.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectCultureen_US
dc.subjectHistorical Traumaen_US
dc.subjectToxic Stressen_US
dc.subjectLanguage, Reading & Cultureen_US
dc.subjectAmerican Indian Healthen_US
dc.subjectCultural Psychologyen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineLanguage, Reading & Cultureen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorRuiz, Richarden_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMoll, Luis C.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberRyan, T. Leeen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberRuiz, Richarden_US
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