Adverse emotional experiences in the first ~5 years of life

There is very good science that shows adverse emotional experiences in the first ~5 years of life can set up life long physiological changes re: levels of cortisol, hyperarousal of the nervous system, aggression (see “Why Love Matters: How affection shapes a baby’s brain” by Sue Gerhardt). This is a lot more common in society than you may imagine.

Now pull up the website for NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood). Their counsellors help people who have experienced emotional abuse, neglect, coercive control, gas lighting etc. All common parlance in families, but not really discussed in the context of workplaces for some reason.

Yet some of the same people who call NAPAC also work in Agile programmes, IT transformations, software teams and management etc, ie. the people around us every day. Our early emotional experiences are latent in all that we do, all the time.

Yet workplace literature and the HR department for some reason, only seem to go as far as acknowledging “bullying” and now “micromanaging”, rather than the full spectrum of interpersonal dysfunction that occur when people get together in groups and start re-enacting family of origin patterns.

Frank Ray

Did you know successful projects depend upon healthy relationships between the people involved? Trust, honesty and openness are required so that problems and issues can be frankly discussed and nipped in the bud. This is how we conduct business at Frank Ray & Associates, a software engineering consultancy I founded. You can also reach me directly at

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