The Psychology of Trauma

Child Abuse

What are the aftereffects of child abuse?

As noted above, trauma in childhood differs from trauma in adulthood. While adults have largely formed personalities, children’s psychological capacities are not yet fully developed. Child abuse interferes with the child’s psychological development, stunting or distorting the child’s growing ability to regulate emotion, control impulses, plan and follow through with goals, negotiate interpersonal relationships, and maintain a stable and positive self-image. Abused children are also more likely to have difficulties with peer relationships and academic performance, and even suffer more medical problems than children who have not been abused. Consequently, child abuse raises the risk of anxiety, depression, impulse control disorders, and severe personality pathology throughout the lifespan. Most tragically, the abuse can teach the child that the world is cruel and uncaring, and that the child is unworthy of love, protection, or respect.


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