Topic: EducationAcademic Performance

Last updated: March 21, 2019

Traumatic Childhood Effects
Childhood abuse, whether physical, sexual, or mental, is an unfortunately common occurrence in far too many families worldwide. Psychoanalytic therapists have been studying the adverse effects of childhood abuse for many years, trying to find a way to help the victims. While there may have been an abundance of research on how to treat the victims of abuse, there is actually quite little on the subject of childhood abuse as opposed to abuse during adolescence and adulthood. In the article, “PTSD Symptoms in College Students Exposed to Interparental Violence: Are they compatible to Those That Result From Child Physical and Sexual Abuse?” by Shelly L. Marmion and Paula K. Lundberg-Love, Marmion discusses how childhood sexual abuse (CSA), childhood physical abuse (CPA), and childhood interparental violence (CPV) affect students whenever they get to college. Moreover, in “Child abuse predicts adult PTSD symptoms among individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities”, Claudia Catani and Iris Sossalla examin early maltreatment effects on adults with intellectual disabilities. In the study, “Association of Childhood Trauma with Cognitive Function in Healthy Adults: a Pilot Study”, by Matthias Majer, Urs M. Nater, Jin-Mann S. Lin, Lucile Capuron, and William C. Reeves, the authors depict how early-life trauma can be a major risk factor for disorders such as post-traumatic stress and depression. Even through limited information, therapy treatments for childhood trauma victims have not been abandoned. With the hopes of informing the general public of two controversial treatment plans, Noortje I. van Vliet, Rafaele J. C. Huntjens, Maarten K. van Dijk, and Ad de Jongh compare and contrast the differences in phase-based as opposed to immediate trauma-focused treatment in the article “Phase-Based Treatment Versus Immediate Trauma-Focused Treatment in Patients with Childhood Trauma-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial”. In all four articles it is concerningly obvious that the effects of childhood trauma can last into adulthood without proper treatment, which is yet to be determined. In spite of the four articles addressing the topic in different retrospects, each article would agree that childhood trauma should be further discussed and analysed so as to agree on a treatment for the victims, as childhood trauma numbers continue to increase.
Marmion, in her analysis on post-traumatic stress disorders, opens her discussion first by informing readers of the importance of interparental violence as a child (CPV). and its effects long-term. Marmion states that, “While many studies have been conducted that identify the effects of having experienced a particular form of child abuse or CPV, no study was found that directly compared the presence and magnitude of the symptoms associated with PTSD in college students with a history of CPV versus those with CPA (childhood physical abuse), CSA (childhood sexual abuse), or no abuse history” (Marmion et al 267). With this, the author is able to establish a cemented foundation to further draw in her readers and inform them of the seriousness of the issue at hand. Marmions use of a questionnaire sent out randomly to 180 college students deepens the discussion and the audiences focus onto the long-term effects of childhood trauma. The results formed from the study by the Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI) are suprising to the authors, as they show that CPV is potentially a greater risk factor than CPA or CSA (Marmion et al 274). With the use of the resulting TSI scales, the author was able to visualize her findings to the general public in order to show just how serious the long-term effects of childhood abuse are in college students.
Much like Marmion, Catani and Sosalla start their article by directly informing the audience of their reasoning behind their research. They state that “Prior research has shown that people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are more likely to experience child abuse as well as other forms of traumatic or negative events later in life compared to the general population” (Catani and Sosalla 1). By addressing next the little amount of research being conducted “about the association of these experiences with adult mental health in intellectually disabled individuals” (Catani and Sosalla 1), the authors successfully pull on their readers heartstrings in order to force the reader to create an emotional connection to the subject. In doing so, the authors ensure that the reader will continue reading their article and, if their lucky, the reader will feel a sense of responsibility to individuals with ID and help eradicate the problem of abuse towards them. Further into the study, the authors use statistics and tables to visually aid the reader in their understanding of the data presented. Not only do the statistics and tables visually aid the reader, the also establish the author’s’ credibility in which their is hard evidence to support their claim that “A key finding was… the amount of child abuse in the family emerged as an independent predictor of current PTSD symptom severity, suggesting an enduring impact of early maltreatment experiences on adult mental health in individuals with ID” (Catani and Sosalla 7). In comparison to the article by Marmion, both sets of authors use visual aids in the form of tables; however, Catani and Sosalla reveal their results using a frequency chart instead of by table.While Catani and Sosalla chose to focus on childhood trauma in individuals with intellectual disorders, as opposed to the general college population, both articles support the claim that “Child maltreatment seems to play a decisive role for the development of mental health problems and exposure to further trauma…” (Catani and Sosalla 9). In conclusion to the article, the authors have a call-to-action for the community of individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Not only does childhood trauma affect college students and people with ID, but in accordance with the primitive research conducted by Majer and his co-workers, childhood trauma may even affect the victims’ cognitive functions. In contrast to the previous two articles, where there were some previous publications published, Majers’ research is very much unprecedented in which “…the effects of early-life stress(s’)…(association) with long-term cognitive deficits in humans is largely unknown” (Majer et al 1 and 2). Since there has been no previous research published about childhood traumas’ (or early-life stress’) effect on the cognitive function of the victims, the only research that the analysts have to go on it that of the trials that have been taken on animals. Majer uses a self-report questionnaire to ask a random set of adults questions to build his research on much like Catani and Sosalla and Marmion. Along with using the questionnaire, all three sets of authors also appealed to the readers emotions. For example, “This self-report questionnaire measures five dimensions of childhood trauma experience, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and emotional and physical neglect. Examples of questions are: “People in my family called me stupid, lazy or ugly” (Emotional Abuse-item); “People in my family hit me so hard that it left bruises or marks” (Physical Abuse-item); “Someone threatened to hurt me or tell lies about me unless I did something sexual with them” (Sexual Abuse-item); “I knew there was someone to take care of me and protect me” (Emotional Neglect-inverse item); “There was someone to take me to the doctor if I needed it” (Physical Neglect-inverse item)” (Majer et al 2). With the intent of opening the readers’ eyes to the multiple forms of childhood abuse, Majer purposefully included this not only for examples for each form of abuse and as a way to show what was asked, but also as a way to make sure the readers completely comprehend the gravity of the situation. Moreover, Majer believes that “…early intervention may prevent the long-term deficits in memory function, and hence academic performance in maltreated children” (Majer et al 8).
Finally, in a recent study by van Vliet and colleagues, two different methods for treatments of childhood trauma are discussed. As opposed to the previous three articles, van Vliet focuses on the pros and cons of two differents ways to help the victims, instead of focusing on the different types of childhood trauma effects. In likeness of the previous articles, van Vliet uses visual aids to be comprehensible to the general public. Van Vliets’ study also differs from the second two articles in that it compares two different treatment plans, making it more like the Marmions article where she compared the adverse effects of three types of traumas. Through the use of a flow chart, among other visual aids, the author creates an easier way to understand the way the treatment of each procedure moves along, step-by-step. Doing so guarantees that future researchers will be able to duplicate his research methods and possibly further his research into finding the perfect treatment solution for childhood trauma.
While the four articles may be different in the kind of childhood trauma they research and the effect that the different traumas play on the victims, by combining the information, one is placed face-to-face with a problem that is much larger than originally thought. However, as new forms of childhood abuse are introduced and the long-term effects they have on the victims come out, all four sets of authors would acknowledge that society must come together to eradicate this worldwide epidemic, as it requires much more research on the treatments alone.

Works Cited
Catani, Claudia, and Iris M. Sossalla. “Child abuse predicts adult PTSD symptoms among individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities.” Frontiers in Psychology, 2015. Health Reference Center Academic, Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.
Majer, Matthias, et al. “Association of Childhood Trauma with Cognitive Function in Healthy Adults: a Pilot Study.” BMC Neurology, BioMed Central, 14 July 2010,
Mokhtari, Kouider, et al. “The Impact of Internet and Television Use on the Reading Habits and Practices of College Students.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 52, no. 7, 2009, pp. 609–619., doi:10.1598/jaal.52.7.6.
Van Vliet, Noortje I, et al. “Phase-Based Treatment Versus Immediate Trauma-Focused Treatment in Patients with Childhood Trauma-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial.” Trials, vol. 19, no. 1, 2018, doi:10.1186/s13063-018-2508-8.

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