15 March 2013 : What Makes Us Who We Are?

When I was a little boy I experienced significant night terrors for about two years.

That's me, circa 1970

Me, ~1970

My parents took me to a child psychiatrist who recommended family counseling so we tried that. A behavior modification program was created. Still, the terrors got so bad that I was hospitalized for a week when I was in 4th grade, studied by doctors and nurses to try to determine the root of the problem. One memorable experience in the hospital was when electrodes were attached to my head to study my brainwaves. Nothing significantly wrong was determined and I returned home. Ultimately, I seemed to grow out of the night terrors, but the experience cast a dark shadow on me for years.

For instance, I was horribly embarrassed by it, even into my young adulthood, and never talked about it. It was my deepest and darkest secret. But during college I started to make peace with it and even started to appreciate how the experience helped make me who I am. I believe the empathy and compassion I have for children is a direct result of my experience with night terrors, of undergoing counseling as a child, and from the experience of spending that week in the hospital.

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