Fascinating but also deeply troubling, this research shows the actual effects of emotional and psychological abuse on the brains of victims and survivors. Because the effects of the abuse shrink the hippocampus (responsible for “working memory” that controls learning and short-term memory, essentially the “desktop” of your brain), victims can become confused, forgetful, and feel absent-minded, almost as if they are “losing their minds,” ironically, the effects of chronic gaslighting. In addition, the amygdala, or limbic brain, is over-worked, thus, resulting in hypervigilance, and damage to the nervous system, which is doing far more than its fair share of work assessing for danger.
Posting this in the hopes that this sobering news might inspire some who are on the fence about leaving, to find a way to do so. These effects frequently last into the first year after leaving, so don’t despair. It took me a couple years after leaving to feel like my mind was fully my own again, and I was no longer confused or frazzled. The cognitive and emotional effects are a high price to pay.