How can a traumatic experience influence children's behaviour

The issues surrounding childrens behaviour after having a traumatic experience are complex, multifactorial and often hugely controversial. Having considered the books about them, you can be forgiven for thinking that we now have as many opinions on the issues as there are people taking into consideration the issues.

In this review we've attempted to cover as many of the major areas as is feasible in order to provide a reasonably extensive overview of the topic.

The explanation of a distressing experience is subjective from both the perspective of the kid concerned and also form the observer. Some commentators have recommended that really the only workable meaning of a distressing experience is one that, by description, produces demonstrable mental sequelae. (Abikoff 1987) This may be the truth, but as other commentators view, some psychological sequelae might not exactly surface for a long time, if at all. This will not mean that the original triggering episode had not been traumatic. There is also the view that that the worst kind, or most extreme type of trauma may be the probably to be positively suppressed at the conscious or subconscious level. (Haddad & Garralda. 1992)

Literature Review

With a location of literature as huge as the the one which we are considering here, it is difficult to find a location to start. In this situation we will consider the paper by Prof. Harry Zetlin (1995) who starts with a short monograph on the screening process of a television set programme which handled arguably the most catastrophic of strains to befall a child, that of the loss of a parent or guardian through murder or violence. He makes several thought provoking responses which are worthy of consideration as they are germinal to the thrust of the article. The first is a plea that the diagnostic label of post-traumatic stress shouldn't be a catch-all container for all mental and behavioural issues that can occur following a distressing experience. (Gorcey et al. 1986)

The second is the realisation that in the particular circumstances portrayed on the television set where a mother or father is murdered have two consequences. The first is the obvious catastrophic injury that the kid activities with the violent lack of a parent, however the second is the much less obvious reality the kid has, at a stroke, also lost a very important, and normally available source of information, of the protecting family environment, which is often one of the most useful restorative tools available to the therapist. He increases this two further insights. The foremost is that the surviving parent has their own trauma to deal with that is certainly invariably sent to the child which, because such events are mercifully comparatively rare, only a relatively few specialists are ever able to build up any significant skills and experience on the subject.

The main issue of the piece is, however, the relevant point that considering the clear obsession of the mass media with intrusive fly-on-the-wall documentaries and the almost equally insatiable public hunger for sensation, the actual fact that such a programme is made whatsoever, almost inevitably adds to the trauma thought by the victims. (Koss et al 1989) One could argue that truly confronting and talking about such issues is part of the healing up process. Such concerns may be of value in the adult who is more in a position to rationalise the principles engaged, but to the kid this may be very much more difficult and being forced to relive the episodes in a very public and unfamiliar arena, can do bit more than add to the psychological stresses and destruction already caused. (Mayall & Gold 1995)

This newspaper offers a wise and considered plea for sense and moderation, not to mention reservation and decency. It really is written in calm and considered moderate tones making the impact of its meaning even more powerful. The next few papers that people wish to analyse offer with the thorny issue of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. It should be commented that there surely is a considerable body of books which argues on both attributes of the debate about whether ADHD is the result of childhood trauma. One side is provided, quite forcibly, by Bramble (et al. 1998). The authors cite Kewley (1998) as proclaiming that the prime aetiology of ADHD is a genetic neuro-developmental one. They concern the portrayed views that it's a manifestation of early childhood abuse or trauma which can have occurred sometime previously with the words:

. . early maltreatment and injury later express as symptoms and that the detection of these symptoms in children evidently illustrates early stress is a primary example of the logical fallacy that underpins all psychoanalytical theory and practice.

The authors claim that to state because psychotherapy is often effective it must represent the fact that a traumatic episode will need to have been responsible since it addresses directly the original emotional stress (Follette et al. 1996), is totally unsound. The natural progression of this discussion, they assert, is why many parents of children with ADHD have such difficulty to find child psychiatrists who can in fact help them rather than the many who seek at fault them for the child's behaviour in the first place. (Breire 1992)

The authors take the view that the reason that psychoanalytical experts have held a whole lot influence on the profession through the years is the fact it is only lately that the glare of data based medication has fallen on the self-control. The authors claim that definately not using psychotherapeutic tools to attempt to achieve resolution, the data shows that psycho-stimulant treatment is a lot more effective (Abikoff 1987) only if because it boosts the therapeutic effect of other forms of treatment such as family remedy and special educational provision.

The converse discussion, or perhaps an expansion of the debate, is offered by Thambirajah (1998) who needs the view that many paperwork on ADHD (and by inference he's referring to the main one reviewed above), regard the syndrome to be a diagnosis made by just checking an appropriate number of bins on the check-list. He asserts that factors such as biopsychological circumstances should be weighed similarly strongly as the symptom cluster of impulsivity, inattention or hyperactivity. (Tannock 1998)

In direct comparison to the preceding paper he says that early distressing experiences, current abuse or even depression of the mom may all be contributory factors in the aetiology of the problem. He argues that taking no accounts of the factors is to dismiss a lot of the accumulated proof and wisdom about them. He also makes a very valid point that to disregard these factors and and then use the check-list approach means that here's an over-reliance on the importance of the symptoms and, as a direct result, this causes an overestimation of prevalence. He issues to the clearly erroneous estimation of a report that was founded exclusively on check list symptomatology, of 15% (although the study is not quoted).

The publisher makes the very valid point that most psychiatrists would concur that the hyperkinetic disorder is a little sub-group within the ADHD syndrome and these children might need treatment with stimulants but only after other aetiologies have been excluded. He makes the rather apt evaluation of treating all children with ADHD the same manner as calling all legged pets with a tail donkeys. There are always a great many more papers on this issue which we could usefully review but we must explore other areas of stress in a child's life to be able to try to provide a representative summary.

With the possible exception of the problem discussed in the first newspaper reviewed, there can be few experiences more traumatising to a child than if you ask me made homeless as a refugee in a period of warfare. The paper by Hodes (et al. 2001) is both heart and soul rending and informative as it explores the health needs of refugees arriving in the UK. Although the newspaper catalogues all of the health needs (that need not concern us in this specific article) of the refugees, it generally does not forget the psychosocial trauma aspects of the children's plight. They point to the fact the particular one way that a child's psychological injury can be minimised is by being accepted into a peer group such as a school. While this may indeed be true, the problem is the fact that refugee children are hardly ever seen by their peers as owed and are therefore hardly ever completely accepted. (Lewis 1998)

This is either aggravated or induced by the actual fact that they curently have twice the pace of psychiatric disorder as found in control sets of children. (Tousignant et al. 1999). It is therefore important to understand these problems because they are often very amenable to psychiatric involvement (O'Shea et al. 2000). The authors quote a newspaper by Burnett and Peel (2001) who look like particularly pessimistic about making a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder in children from a fundamentally different culture, as their recovery is thought to be extra to the reconstruction of their support networks, which may prove especially difficult in a different or even alien, social environment. They point to studies of the children who fled to the USA to flee the Pol Pot regime, who had post-traumatic stress in childhood, and even when adopted up 12 years later they price 35% as still having post traumatic stress and 14% experienced lively depression. (Sack et al. 1999).

This may be a reflection of the difficulty in getting appropriate treatment for a condition in a different culture. But, in particular relevance to your factors here, the authors comment that even contact with an individual stressor may result in a surprisingly continual post traumatic stress response. (Richards & Lovell 1999). The very last article that people are going to consider here is a newspaper by Papineni (2003). This paper has been selected partly because of it's direct relevance to your consideration, but also because over a human level, it is a riveting piece of writing. It really is entitled Children of bad thoughts and starts with the estimate Every time there's a war there's a rape (Stiglmayer 1994).

The whole article is a assortment of war-related rape tales and the resultant psychopathology that ensued. The writer specifically explores the problems relating to years as a child rape and its aftermath. She also considers a related issue and that is how the effect of maternal shame styles a child's belief of themselves (with heartrending implications), the way the shame believed by the mom is often externalised to impact the child who's the visible symbol of the physical take action. (Carpenter 2000)

The catalogue of sentiment and reaction explained in this specific article by a few of the topics, would almost make an authoritative words book on the results of a distressing experience in child years. It would be extremely difficult to quantify an individual negative sentiment that was neither articulated nor experienced by the victims, not only of the act of rape, but also of the stigma and aftermath of the function which was often referred to as the worst facet of the whole thing.

A frequent theme that works trough the paper is the realisation that the existence of a child conceived by way of a rape is a effective reminder of the trauma and for that reason is, alone a pub to psychological therapeutic. The writer also tips to the fact that another, almost inevitable effect of forcible rape, is difficulty with relationships and intimacy which can devastate a child's cultural development. (Human Rights Watch. 1996). Such a child may not just have this burden to tolerate because of its life, however the stigma forced after it by culture may also have untold outcomes. The author rates a child blessed from the Rwandan conflict, describing itself by different labels which endure witness to society's belief, and more accurately and undoubtedly, the child's conception of itself: children of hate, enfants non-desirÃs (unwanted children), or enfants mauvais souvenir (children of bad memory)

The author details how such psychological stress may never be successfully treated and ends with the very perceptive comment. There can't be peacefulness without justice, and unless the international community recognises all rape in conflict situations as crimes against humanity, you will see no calmness for the victims of such atrocities.


It is clearly a forlorn hope to cover all of the aspects of trauma and its own potential impact on a child's life in one short article. We hope that, by being selective, we've been able to supply the audience with an authoritative insight into some on the problems from the subject.

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