Mike Delaney's Blog

Mike Delaney. 23/06/22

“Central Scotland Syndrome”

Over many years working in England, particularly his time in Harley Street London, Mike “light-heartedly” coined the phrase “Central Scotland Syndrome” as he saw many Scot, successful and driven in their careers, but who presented with the same “symptoms”

· Low self-esteem

· Lack of confidence

· Never feeling good enough despite personal and professional success

· Prone to addictive behaviours such as drinking, drug use, sex or gambling

· Difficulty sharing feelings or showing vulnerability

· Deep shame and guilt (often from religious backgrounds)

· Anger and aggression as a default setting, to avoid other feelings such as sadness

· Codependency in relationships.

· Adverse Childhood Experiences such as physical/sexual abuse or extreme poverty/adversity

It was also noted to be a generational thing and was prevalent in predominantly males over 50yrs old, so born before the early 70s.

Most affected clients had been brought up within some level of poverty where violence in the family home was frequent and there was also sectarian threat and violence within the communities where they lived, leading to fear, suspicion, and tribalism. This leads to a dysregulated autonomic nervous system which often signals danger when there is none.

In many ways this is akin to PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks and panic attacks. One of the things I realised in my own recovery journey, was the fact that I dismissed my traumatic experiences because it seemed that everyone else around me had the same events happening to them, but nobody spoke about it. As a coping mechanism, we learned to turn the most painful situations into comedy and “laugh it off” but sadly this is ineffective and short-lived.

The education system at the time was also abusive and violent, with teachers being legally allowed to harshly strike and belt children with a specially made, thick leather “strap” which they often carried in their jackets, resting over one shoulder. This violent punishment was carried out publicly, in front of the whole class causing major shame if the child showed any pain or shed tears. Teachers shamed pupils who’s reading skills were poor, humiliated them in front of the classmates, making them believe, at a deep level, that they were stupid and worthless. Then we wonder, as adults, why men struggle to show their emotions?

Thankfully, there were also some gifted and caring teachers who helped to mitigate the trauma inflicted by others. Good teachers NEVER had to use threat or violence to control their pupils. They engaged them and nurtured them as they would their own.

My “diagnosis” started as a throwaway line, but my ongoing observation is that this set of adverse childhood experiences causes complex problems for many people later in life, such as addiction, depression and suicide.

Mike Delaney

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