ACES stands for the Adverse Childhood Event Scale. It is a questionnaire developed by Dr. Vincent Feliti in the 80s. He was working in an obesity treatment program through Kaiser Permanente and realized that many people who lost weight dropped out of the program. He followed up with them and discovered each of them had at least one major childhood trauma. He launched a wide scale research study that correlated childhood trauma with mental and physical illness in adulthood.
The scale includes questions about experiencing or witnessing abuse, losing a parent to death or divorce, losing a family member to jail or addiction, being physically neglected and not feeling like you mattered in your family. There are a lot of things that could easily be added to his list. People can experience attachment wounds many ways outside of the original 10 experiences included.
The outcome of the study identified that individuals experiencing these events are at a higher risk for physical ailments such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and auto-immune disorders. The numbers of people who have trauma and experience auto-immune issues is staggering. In addition, they are more likely to suffer from depression, violence, being a victim of violence and suicide.
Often, people try to distance themselves from these experiences by telling themselves that it happened a long time ago and it doesn’t matter anymore. Wrong! Our body holds on to things that we don’t fully address. We can tell ourselves that we have moved on, but look at the number of people who self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, food, pornography and television. You can’t tell me that they have actually moved on from what happened. I often have clients who end up realizing they sabotage their weight loss efforts due to a fear of not being safe if they lose weight which is directly connected to a traumatic experience. Burying pain doesn’t mean the pain goes away, it is like an infection. All the bandages in the world, will not heal the infection.