Research papers effects child abuse

Furthermore, childhood maltreatment can be an essential ingredient in the makeup of violent individuals, predisposing them to bouts of irritable aggression. In the meantime, early intervention should be our priority.

1 INTRODUCTION | Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect | The National Academies Press

The brain is more plastic and malleable before puberty, increasing our chances of minimizing or reversing consequences of abuse. One consequence of childhood maltreatment is limbic irritability, which tends to produce dysphoria chronic low-level unhappiness , aggression, and violence toward oneself or others. Even into adulthood, drugs can be useful in alleviating this set of symptoms.

Anticonvulsant agents can help, as can drugs that affect the serotonin system. Abuse also causes alterations in left-right hemisphere integration. Some research suggests that anticonvulsant drugs may facilitate the bilateral transmission of information. Left-right hemisphere integration may also improve through activities that require considerable left-right hemisphere cooperation, such as playing a musical instrument.

Certain existing psychotherapies may be helpful. Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, which emphasizes correcting illogical, self-defeating perceptions, may work by strengthening left-hemisphere control over right-hemisphere emotions and impulses. Traditional, dynamic psychotherapy may work by enabling patients to integrate right-hemisphere emotions while maintaining left-hemisphere awareness, strengthening the connection between the two hemispheres.

A moving visual stimulus is used to produce side-to-side eye movements while a clinician guides the patient through recalling highly disturbing memories. For reasons we do not yet fully understand, patients seem able to tolerate recall during these eye movements and can more effectively integrate and process their disturbing memories. Society reaps what it sows in nurturing its children. It predisposes the child to have a biological basis for fear, though he may act and pretend otherwise. The brain is programmed to a state of defensive adaptation, enhancing survival in a world of constant danger, but at a terrible price.

To a brain so tuned, Eden itself would seem to hold its share of dangers; building a secure, stable relationship may later require virtually superhuman personal growth and transformation. At the extreme, the coupling of severe childhood abuse with other neuropsychiatric handicaps for example, low intelligence, head trauma, or psychosis is repeatedly found in cases of explosive violence.

Dorothy Otnow Lewis and Jonathan Pincus have analyzed the neurological and psychiatric history of violent adolescents and adults. In another study, they reviewed the childhood neuropsychiatric records and family histories of incarcerated delinquents.

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What might have been a tip-off to those who later were arrested for murder? In a follow-up study of 95 formerly incarcerated juvenile delinquents, they found that the combination of intrinsic neuropsychiatric vulnerabilities and a history of childhood abuse or family violence effectively predicted which adolescents would go on to commit violent crimes. Lewis concludes that child abuse can engender all pivotal factors associated with violent behavior, namely, impulsivity, irritability, hyper vigilance, paranoia which she interprets as an extreme version of hypervigilance , decreased judgment and verbal ability, and diminished recognition of pain in oneself dissociation and others.

Those with a history of childhood abuse may know right from wrong, but their brains may be so irritable and the connections from the logical, rational hemisphere so weak that intense negative right-hemisphere emotions may incapacitate their use of logic and reason to control their aggressive impulses. Is it just to hold people criminally responsible for actions that they lack the neurological capacity to control?

Even if the abused person comes to terms with the traumatic memories and chooses for the sake of sanity to forgive the perpetrator, this will not reverse the neurobiological abnormalities. Childhood abuse, age, and neurological impairments can be critical mitigating factors that a just society should not ignore. If we know that the roots of violence are fertilized by childhood abuse, can we make a long-term commitment to reduce violence by focusing on our children rather than our criminals? What if we set a goal of reducing the cases of childhood abuse and neglect by 50 percent a year?

We would have to commit ourselves, seriously, to improving access to quality day care and after-school programs.

We might need to educate and support parents so they could know how to nurture their children more effectively. We certainly would need to foster better relationships among peers and siblings. Think of what we could save if we needed fewer prisons and fewer mental health professionals. Our brains are sculpted by our early experiences.

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Maltreatment is a chisel that shapes a brain to contend with strife, but at the cost of deep, enduring wounds. Neuroaesthetics is a new and rapidly expanding field of research that is aimed at the intersection of psychological aesthetics, biological mechanisms, and human evolution. The silent, often subconscious conversation that is taking place inside us is one of the most vital communications we will ever find ourselves engaged in.

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Back to Parent Page. Share This Page. Abuse and the Developing Human Brain For a century or more, scientists have hotly contested the relative importance of experience versus genetic endowment in the development of the brain and behavior. A Constellation of Abnormalities Our research and that of other scientists delineates a constellation of brain abnormalities associated with childhood abuse. Effects on the Hippocampus The hippocampus, located in the temporal lobe, is involved in memory and emotion.

Shifting from Left to Right The left hemisphere is specialized for perceiving and expressing language, the right hemisphere for processing spatial information and also for processing and expressing negative emotions. From Neurobiology to Symptomatology In summary, we now know that childhood abuse is linked with excess neuronal irritability, EEG abnormalities, and symptoms suggestive of temporal lobe epilepsy. Their Choice—or Ours? References Finkelhor DA.

A Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse. Childhood trauma in borderline personality disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. One hundred cases of multiple personality disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Temporolimbic epilepsy and behavior. In: Mesulam MM, ed.

Essays on Child Abuse

There are also difficulties in determining causality between the abuse experience and health problems in longitudinal studies because there are several unknown factors that might affect the outcomes. Overall, these circumstances may affect the health of young people as well as experiences of abuse do and could be regarded as a mutual limitation in different types of study design [ 39 ]. Fourth, another type of bias, dependent measurement bias, implies that false associations can occur due to problems in measurement [ 40 , 41 ].

In this study however, it might be assumed that pupils would rather tend to overreport, alternatively underreport both exposure abuse and outcome health and that skewness in results would not arise. This also touches upon the problem of that outcome and predictor variables were assessed by the same individual, which tends to strengthen relationships [ 42 ]. It was on the other hand not in the framework for this large study where data was collected anonymously from the children themselves. Further the use of different informants bring new problems with informant variance see e.

Edelbrock [ 43 ] concerning mental health problems [ 44 ] and child maltreatment [ 45 ]. Furthermore, the drop-out of children absent from school the day the questionnaire was given out may distort the results since this might be a group of more disadvantaged pupils.

Background

Their absence could depend on truancy or illness and lead to an underestimation of the true prevalence of physical abuse as well as poor health. The confidentiality of the survey makes it possible for children to answer these sensitive issues. Only eight percent of the abused had told any authority about their exposure implying that this study-design captures a quite different spectrum of children than a clinical sample would do.

The fact that the study was performed in a representative group of the general youth population, in other words a non-clinical group of children, is another strength of this study, not to mention the large sample and the overall high response rate which have made it possible to perform analyses of different subgroups.

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The addition of the question of last year exposure, is an improvement compared with many previous studies since it allows for more accurate reporting of prevalence avoiding recall bias to the same extent that occurs if one asks for life-time experiences [ 20 ]. However, it is still important to measure both lifetime and point prevalence last year exposure to examine the associations between abuse and poor health. Finally, it is important to note that in this study analyses were performed in a group consisting only of exposed children and characteristics of CPA and other background factors are solely compared to each other.

In studies also including non-exposed children, figures of correlations between abuse and poor health would probably been higher since previous studies show that exposed children report poor health more than not exposed children do [ 18 , 19 ]. This study adds to the literature, suggestions of how different characteristics and background factors are associated with poor health among children exposed to CPA. In the existing literature on child maltreatment there are many studies on how single characteristics of the abuse are associated with outcomes of poor health.

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To our best knowledge, no previous studies have compared these factors in order to examine which ones that have the greatest impact on health or how they interact with each other.