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Transcript of Childhood Trauma
by: Mae Alfaddaghi
generally refers to the traumatic experiences that occur to children from 0-6 years old.
: a deeply distressing or disturbing experience
Types of Trauma
Abuse, including: sexual, physical, emotional
Abandonment or neglect
Witness to domestic violence
Death or loss of a loved one
Severe natural disasters
Witness to community violence
Living in chronically chaotic environments
Personal attack by another person or an animal
Medical procedure, surgery, accident or serious illness
War, terrorism, military or police actions (including media images)
Signs of Trauma
Difficulty paying attention and concentrating
Anger and irritability
Repeated and intrusive thoughts
What Childhood Trauma affects:
•Attachments and Relationships
•Physical Health: Body and Brain
•Self-Concept & Future Orientation
•Long-Term Health Consequences
The majority of abused or neglected children have difficulty developing a strong healthy attachment to a caregiver. Children who do not have healthy attachments have been shown to:
Be vulnerable to stress
Have trouble controlling and expressing emotions
React violently or inappropriately to situations
Experience problems in romantic relationships, friendships, and with authority figures (such as teachers or police officers)
Stress in an environment can
impair the development of the
brain and nervous system. An
absence of mental stimulation
in neglectful environments may
limit the brain from developing
to its full potential.
Children with complex trauma histories may develop chronic or recurrent physical complaints, such as
headaches or stomachaches
more chronic physical conditions and problems
engage in risky behaviors that compound these conditions (e.g., smoking, substance use, and diet and exercise habits that lead to obesity).
Children who have experienced complex trauma often
have difficulty identifying, expressing, and managing emotions
have limited language for feeling states
internalize and/or externalize stress reactions and as a result may experience significant depression, anxiety, or anger
have unpredictable or explosive emotional responses
may react to a
reminder of a traumatic
event with trembling,
anger, sadness, or
Dissociation is often seen in children with histories of complex trauma. When children encounter an overwhelming and terrifying experience, they may
dissociate or mentally separate themselves from the experience
perceive themselves as detached from their bodies
feel as if they are in a dream or some altered state that is not equally real
lose all memories or sense of the experiences having happened to them
have time gaps and/or gaps in their personal history
cut off or lose touch with various aspects of the self, at its extreme
A child with a complex trauma history
be easily triggered or "set off"
be more likely to react very
struggle with self-regulation
lack impulse control or the ability to think through consequences before acting
behave in ways that appear unpredictable, oppositional, volatile and extreme
engage in high-risk behavior, such as self harm, unsafe sexual practices, and excessive risk-taking
engage in illegal activities, such as alcohol and substance use
Freud believed that the origin of hysteria and obsessive neurosis came from repressed memories of early childhood sexual abuse or molestation, he believed those childhood traumas were a precondition for hysteria or obsessional symptoms .
One theory on childhood trauma
is Freud's seduction theory
In a resent study at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, it was concluded that "In a multivariate analysis of variance, trauma-exposed children with current life stressors had elevated internalizing and externalizing problems compared with trauma-exposed children without current stress and non trauma-exposed children with and without current stressors. The trauma-exposed groups with or without current stressors did not differ on post traumatic stress disorder symptom severity." This proves that childhood trauma can have a lasting and continued influence on a child's personal development.
Childhood trauma's repercussions
are continued as the trauma continues
This study, published in 2011, began to examine social support, discrimination, and coping predicted post-disaster mental health outcomes among youth survivors of Hurricane Katrina. this study found that "the greater a child's acute or short-term stress symptoms are, the greater the long-term post traumatic stress symptoms will be, and that this relationship is strong. Likewise, but to a somewhat lesser extent, children's anxiety, depressive symptoms and their parents' symptoms predict subsequent post traumatic distress." This study highlights the child's receptiveness to their parent's mental state and symptoms, as mentioned above, and strikes a strong relationship between the parent's post traumatic stress symptoms and the post traumatic stress symptoms the child may have or develop.
Building child trauma theory from longitudinal studies: A meta-analysis
Thank you for your time!
Are there any questions?
References and sources:
CAS – Central Authentication Service. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.sciencedirect.com.proxy.library.csupomona.edu/science/article/pii/S0272735811000493#
Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Neuropsychological and Cognitive Function in College Women. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/jnp.18.1.45
Early Childhood Trauma. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/early-childhood-trauma
(n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://m.jpepsy.oxfordjournals.org/content/38/1/94.full.pdf
In a study lead by Dr.Carryl P. Navalta, where twenty-six college women with a history of repeated childhood sexual abuse were recruited, it is mentioned that: "Various cognitive deficits have been reported in several studies, including short-term memory deficits and lower levels of intellectual ability, academic attainment, abstract reasoning, and executive function. Koenen et al, found that children exposed to high levels of domestic violence had intelligence scores that were lower than unexposed children and that domestic violence was associated with a dose-dependent intellectual decline independent of latent genetic influences".
Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Neuro-psychological and Cognitive Function in College Women
When children experience abuse on a regular basis their brains begin to produce excess stress hormones which can cause:
A heightened sense of alertness which can slow the development of other key fictions in the brains growing children.
This can lead to lower IQ and problems with language and judgement
Problems with attachments start to form because children who are abused by their primary givers cannot trust others and this continues onto adulthood
Sensitivity to triggers that bring back memories of the abuse they went through
Trauma and Behavior Part 1: "How Trauma Affects the Brain"
Trauma- The Long Lasting Effects of Childhood Trauma