Generational Trauma Child Neglect essay

GenerationalTrauma: Child Neglect

Tableof Content

  1. Abstract

  2. Generational Trauma – Nature and Form

  3. Causes of Trauma in General

  • Death of a child

  • Disease

  • Accident

  • Natural events

  • Tragedy – kidnapping, hostages, and religious cults.

  1. Dealing with Generational Trauma – From Child Neglect

  • Psychological Therapy

  1. Spiritual Approach

  2. Professional Intervention

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

  • Exposure therapy

  1. Conclusion

  2. References


Trauma is passed within and across the family line in the form ofgenerational trauma. Such a situation occurs, mostly, when familymembers are closely related and when they share a lot in theirday-to-day lives. This paper looks at generational trauma as itpertains to child neglect. Individuals suffering from selectedconditions including a serious illness, loss of parents, accident,and post-traumatic stress disorders [mainly for veterans andsoldiers] are likely to transfer traumatic conditions to offspring. Generation trauma occurs for two reasons the first one is whenparents completely neglect their children and fail to pay attentionto their upbringing hence, prompting such children to loseself-identity and in the process develop a trauma of losing touchwith parents. Secondly, it occurs when children are neglected, and inthe process, want to know the reason for their neglect. Immediately,the children uncover the incidences that cause trauma to theirparents they may share the pain, the agony, and the distress. Thisresearch discusses transgenerational trauma in the context of childneglect. It also looks at the measures that can be leveraged incoping with the psychological implications of trauma. Of concern forthe research will be to discuss the theories set in recovering fromtrauma as well as spiritual and religious practices that can be usedas recovery from transgenerational trauma.


Generationaltrauma also known as transgenerational trauma is a form of constantdistress and agony that is transferred from one generation ofsurvivors to another. Pain and continual stress can be transferredfrom the parent to children, and further, to grandchildren iftraumatic incidences are not tamed, monitored, or properly managed.Scholarly sources support that generational trauma is carried on togenerations through complex post-traumatic stress disorder approaches[C-PTSD] (Bombay et al. 2009). The C-PTSD mechanisms includecaptivity, psychological manipulation regarding false accusations,defamation of a person self-identity, and conditions that destroy thesense of self. A range of individuals is noted to display thecharacteristics of generational trauma. Such individuals includevictims of war, hostages, concentration camp survivors, and victimsof religious cults. Research supports that generational trauma can betransferred to children particularly due to increasing neglect on theside of parents (Atkinson et al. 2010). The above-mentionedincidences including war, hostage, and escaping from religious cultsimpair the psychology of victims, who with children, may focus ondealing with the long-term side effects of the trauma and fail to payattention to child upbringing. The situations mentioned above oftrauma have a high likelihood of leading to child abandonment.Parents may fail to attend to children’s recreation activities aswell as fail to engage them at every stage of their development.

Parentsare also reported to transfer the childcare responsibility tocaregivers and other personnel. The culmination of small neglectscreates a more destructive impact commonly known as generationaltrauma. Children develop a reduced sense of self-worth, struggle withself-esteem, struggle with academic work, and have little educationalattainment and performances. They are likely to see themselves lessertalented than fellow peers. In worse situations, child neglect maylead to children developing trauma such that they share the pain anddistress that their parents may be facing. Psychological sourcessupport that childcare, shelter, nourishment, and comfort should notbe taken for granted. Hence, the needs mentioned above should bereadily available, accessible, and convenient at the every stage of achild’s development (Babbel, 2011). A 2006 statistical reporting bythe Department of Human Services reveals that child neglect is arampant problem in America that unfortunately exceeds both child andphysical abuse (Staggs, 2016). The report further showed thatchildren were neglected at a rate of 1.62% and out of this number,64.3% experienced massive neglect and later developed generationaltrauma. In 2006 alone, 1,530 of children died from child neglect.Roughly, half of the neglected children were from both genders, maleand female, but there was a slightly higher neglect on females thanmales. Further statistics also record that child neglect hasgradually led to trauma on children, and this is solely caused byparents’ traumatic experiences (Babbel, 2011).


Thissection of the research examines the general causes of trauma and thevarious motivations for distress, heartbreak, and agony. The causesare carried out by the first generation of victims and latertransferred to next generations. The sole purpose of examining thegeneral causes of trauma is to determine where parents developtraumatic experiences, how they live with them, and how these causeslead to child neglect and consequently resulting in generationaltrauma. The analysis believes that by examining the immediate causesof trauma, it will shed light on the development of generationaltrauma to second, third, and even fourth generations.

3.1Death of a Child

Parentsliving with the memories of the deceased, particularly theirchildren, are likely to develop more traumatizing thoughts,remembrances, and nostalgic feelings. Those who talk about the livesof deceased children state that they still remember the cries, thetalks, and the mumbling soft touch of their children’s hands. Giventhat such a child has not fully developed into an adult parents havea lot of hope, expectation, and longing for the development andmaturity of their offspring. These expectations are immediatelyblurred or even cut short by death. The loss of a child poses as asignificant aspect to the mother, who in her possession had viewedthe offspring as the only hope in life (Mark, 2015). Most mothersalso find a significant linkage between the child and the father. Consequently, when the child gets sick and die, married women arelikely to lose touch with their marriage. A child gives sense to amarital relationship, and in most cases, signifies completeness andstability of marriage. A range of traumatic incidences, therefore,proves to stem from child loss and mostly affect mothers due to theclose relationship that exists with their children.


Prolongedillness such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and chronic illnesses may causetrauma and consequently death. Conditions that are hard to heal andthose that require time and money to treat are the leading causes oftrauma to the loved ones of the victims. Diseases cause traumaparticularly when they take years to heal or when they consume moneyand consequently affect the financial status of a family. A familymember diagnosed with a serious illness, for example, will require acomprehensive insurance coverage. This means the family will investheavily in insurance leaving other areas and issues unattended (Cori,2007). Trauma-related diseases affect two categories of people thevictim himself and individuals close to the victim. In the lattercategory, children feel traumatized when one of the parents suffersfrom a severe disease. They are troubled when they see the mothertaking care of their father’s illness. They suffer agony anddistress when they remember the ‘happy times’ they shared withtheir father when he was energetic and enthusiastic. Seeing thefather on the bed and making constant visits to the hospital leave alot to be desired, regarding affection, connection, and belonging(Cori, 2007).


Thisis a major causative factor of generation trauma. Accidents may occurin a range of settings and may feature certain effects on generationtrauma’s victims. Workplace accidents, resulting from electricshock [mostly in industrial settings], may cause long-termincapacitation to the victims. Such accidents impair victims’functionality and render them to wheelchairs and otherlife-supporting systems. Road accidents may lead to the loss ofphysical parts and consequently the loss of a job affecting the lovedones of the victim. Accidents from fire, terrorism, and onslaughtsmay harbor even worse consequences leading to trauma on the side ofthe victim. This research, therefore, supports that accidents affectthe victim, destroy their experiences, and future anticipations.This, in turn, leads to both short and long-term implications for thefamily members who share the pain and the agony of the victims.Similar to diseases and infections, accidents represent a uniquecausative factor of trauma that affects some individuals not onlythe victim but also individuals closely associated with the victims(Schwab, 2010).

3.4Natural Events

TheKatrina Tsunami destroyed homes of hundreds of people hence, causingmental turmoil among the victim. In the August of 2005, thousands ofNew Orleans residents were displaced to new locations, some died,families lost touch, and there were other consequences to thevictims. Natural events like hurricanes, floods, fire, famine, andearthquake affect the social life of families (Atkinson, 2012). Itleads to poverty due to loss of property and children are oftensecured in children homes and other care settings. This mostlyhappens when parents want to recollect and develop a home for thefamily. The aftermath of disastrous and catastrophic natural eventsis a series of psychological impairments to victims. This researchbelieves that natural phenomena are also a leading cause of trauma.Victims have little living options they restructure theirlivelihoods, are forced to re-adjust to new conditions and environs,and may lose loved ones in natural catastrophes. The culmination ofboth short and long-term impacts of natural events is traumaticexperiences and other related forms of distress.


Tragedymay be sub-divided into other smaller categories including escapingfrom a religious cult, kidnapping, and being held hostage. Anindividual in hostage for a significant period stays for long withoutseeing or interacting with family members. There are major concernswhether the person is alive and safe. The growing uncertainty aboutthe safety and well-being of victims affects the psychology of familymembers [and even children] often leading to trauma (Bombay et al.2009). Kidnapping is similar to being held hostage and causespsychological disturbances to both the victim and the loved ones. Thefinal category of tragedy is when individuals are subjected toreligious cults but later gain an escape. Realizing the past and howthey lived a substantial period affects their experiences oftenleading to trauma. Individuals escaping from religious cults mayrealize that they lost their families in the process, lost touch withfriends, and are disregarded by the society. This realization is anightmare that unfortunately leads to trauma.


Theabove-discussed causes of trauma are usually long-term and can becarried along by survivors to future generations mostly children andgrandchildren. It is important to adjust to conditions andexperiences that may appear traumatic to gain focus on the future.Dealing with trauma requires strategic psychological assistance, mostof which comes in the form of therapy, spiritual intervention, andprofessional support. This section of the paper looks at theapproaches used by psychologists in countering trauma. It discussesboth psychological therapy and spiritual responses, all of whichassist victims to gain a significant outlook of the future and todevelop the necessary skills to overcome negative situations in theirlives. The research believes that when victims fail to outlive theirtrauma, their experience will consequently lead to child neglect, andas discussed in previous sections of the research, victims can passtragic experiences to children. The sole purpose of this section isto discuss the various interventions [both spiritual and religious]that can be undertaken to enable victims to outlive the past and torenew their perspective of life.


Psychotherapyis a central concept of dealing with trauma, by both victims andthose related to them. The process involves talking to apsychologist, a healthcare provider, or even a psychiatrist. Duringpsychotherapy, victims get to learn about the current situations,symptoms, feelings, and behavior changes involved with trauma(Steinberg and Eisner, 2015). The most significant impact ofpsychotherapy is that psychiatrists allow the victim to view thecondition as not unique. They strive to change the perspective ofcasualties enabling them to develop a heightened state of themselves.The intervention enables the victims to appreciate life, to realizethe hundreds of opportunities and promises life hold, and to nurtureself-worth, self-respect, and self-realization. The gradual changingof victims’ mindset also strives to make them understand that atraumatic incidence is not [or has never] had more value than theirlives. Although psychotherapy can be done to treat and to counterspecific conditions, these talks, conversations, and discussionsusually apply to a wide range of conditions. Academic sources advisethat psychiatrists will use psychotherapy to address mood disorders[such as bipolar and depression], anxiety disorders [PTSD, panicdisorder, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder], personalitydisorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictions (Courtois,2010). Scholarly sources support that psychotherapy can be aseffective as medication, and it has helped thousands of victims torecover from traumatic experiences. It is an appropriate approach,but it takes time completely to change the lives of victims (Mark,2015).

4.2Religious Intervention

Thequest for spiritual nourishment coupled with individuals’ searchfor something to believe in allows religion to be a majorintervention for trauma. Sources support that trauma forces victim tolose faith, to see themselves as abandoned by God, and to lose touchwith both the church and religion (Bryant, 2010). Religiousapproaches are instrumental because they acknowledge deep spiritualneeds, they enable the renewal of faith, and they provide acompassionate platform for victims. More explicitly, divineinterventions address the needs of people, and this changes theirperception about their situations and statuses. Christian programsdesigned for post-traumatic stress disorders [PTSDs] for examplebegin with a spiritual assessment that identifies one’s needs(Meichenbaum, 2012). Issues that stand as barriers between anindividual and God are identified and discussed exhaustively.Individuals are likely to leverage a spiritual dimension in therecovery, and that gives hope for life. By acknowledging deeperspiritual desires and needs, religious interventions have helpedcreate programs that offer support to victims within a short time.Spiritual intervention has been revisited by scholarly sources and itis seen as a central aspect in converging trauma victims and allowingthem to share experiences (Meichenbaum, 2012). This is criticallyunderpinning to trauma. When persons realize the losses of others arecritical than theirs, they are likely to change personal perspectivesabout their unique traumas.

Spiritualservices commonly available for trauma programs include eveningBible studies, daily devotion and chapel services, Christiancounseling, topical studies, pastoral guidance, and weekend worshipservices. This research supports that spiritual intervention iscritical. It changes the environment of the victim since there areregular Bible studies, worship sessions, and evening religiousservices. The church community absorbs individuals suffering fromtraumatic events, and they acquire brothers and sisters in Christ -and for the first time, they find another phase of life (Courtois,2010). The church environment is a fulfilling and a haven withpromises and expectations for the afterlife. The spiritualdevelopment and nourishment changes the mindset of victims and givesthe much-needed compassion to overcome trauma. It is also stated thatspiritual intervention denies victims the time to stay alone and tobe overwhelmed by internal pressures. Spiritual renewal programsfeature 87% of recoveries, and more than 70% of trauma victims feelthe church uses the necessary improvement measures (Courtois, 2010).Most victims also acknowledge that religious environments providepsychological harmony and create a whole new experience for traumavictims.


Itis important to note that where spiritual therapy fails or wherevictims had no previous religious life, professional assistance iscritical. Professional support, similar to psychotherapy, addressesthe clinical practices and relies strongly on changing the psychologyof victims. Doing this requires talks, discussions, and negotiationsthat can effectively be used to address the psychological needs ofpatients. This section of the research categorizes professionalassistance into two broad groups that include cognitive behavioraltherapy and exposure therapy. The two categories of professionalintervention will be discussed separately, and the paper will examinehow each practice contributes to the successful recovery.

5.1Behavioral Cognitive Therapy

TheCBT approach is based on the concept that thoughts, feelings, actionsand physical sensations are interconnected. This form of professionalassistance does not solve the problems completely it solely assiststhe victims to deal with arising conditions positively andsuccessfully. The behavior cognitive therapy comes into existencewhen psychologists realized that negative feelings and thoughtstrapped victims into a vicious circle (SAMHSA, 2011). This was acycle that was ultimately doomed and one that formed a special lifefor individuals experiencing trauma. There have been developments inthe CBT approaches and the common steps now involve:

  • Identification of troubling conditions – The therapist spends adequate time with victims in the identification of divorce, medical conditions, grief, and symptoms of a serious medical condition or even anger. Full identification of problems allows psychologists to identify what concerns to focus on earlier in the CBT process.

  • Becoming aware of troubling thoughts and conditions – After successful identification of problems, victims are required to be aware of respective conditions. Victims are encouraged to share their ideas about conditions facing them and to define the context of the problems (National Health Services, 2015). Victims also interpret the meaning of special situations through self-talk. Professionals will require individuals to keep a journal of their thoughts concerning traumatic symptoms.

  • Inaccurate thinking – Professionals advice that victims should pay close attention to personal responses. Individuals are informed to be keen on how they respond physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. This way, they may realize a change in response and put the effort in re-adjusting to positive responses.

  • Shaping positive thinking – This is the last stage of the CBT, and it involves a long-sitting with a psychologist. It helps victims to identify positive thoughts and to develop very positive perceptions about life (National Health Services, 2015). In this step, professionals will change the perspective of victims in attempts to help them develop healthy emotional, behavioral and physical responses.

TheCBT is a short-term therapy with approximately 10 – 20 sessions.Factors that determine the length of cognitive behavioral therapyinclude type of condition, the severity of symptoms, how fastvictims make progress, the period individuals live with thecondition, level of stress, and the amount of pressure received fromfamily members (Dublin South Psychology Service, 2012). This researchreveals that cognitive behavioral therapy is a professional approachwith immense potential to solve a traumatic experience.

5.2Exposure Therapy

Thismethod enables victims to talk about their experience over and overuntil the traumatic event is no longer activating. Mostly used tocounter PTSD, exposure therapy is intended to desensitize an agonyand a tragic situation exclusively through positive exposure. Highlyconsidered an evidence-based practice for dealing with trauma amongchildren and adolescents, exposure therapy utilizes trauma narrativesto allow persons ‘pour our’ feelings and thoughts of agony anddistress. Research supports that exposure can be done into two mainways one is through exposure at the same time [called flooding] andthe second way is through desensitization which refers to thegeneration of tolerance to allow victims live with trauma withoutpaying much attention to it (SAMHSA, 2011). Exposure therapies arebuilt on the principle that individuals that communicate internalpressures are likely to develop tolerance to conditions. Traumaproves hazardous and devastating when internal pressure proves hardto bear and consequently affects the response of the victim. Majorresponses affected by trauma include emotional, physical andbehavioral. This research views exposure therapy as a professionalpractice and one that is applied primarily to Post Traumatic StressDisorder [PTSD] mostly veterans. Exposure therapy can also be used inconventional traumatic cases to provide tolerance to victims and toallow them to journey on even at the time of adversity. Exposuretherapy proves professional since therapists leverage stringentpractices in the delivery of care and continuously follow schedulesand timelines all of which are viewed as critical for recovery.


Theresearch paper has examined the causes and the nature of trauma ingeneral with emphasis on generational trauma resulting from childneglect. The earlier sections of the analysis reveal thatgenerational trauma can develop when parents transfer traumaticexperiences to their children through abandonment and neglect. Moreclearly, child neglect leads to generational trauma since childrenare forced to absorb the pain and the agony of parents. They are alsolikely to develop trauma due to reduced self-worth and self-esteemresulting from abandonment (Babbel, 2011). Of particular concern forthe research was to address the factors necessary for dealing withtrauma. These factors have been classified into three majorcategories therapeutic approaches, spiritual, and professionalmechanisms. Under professional approaches, the paper has discussedboth cognitive and behavioral therapy and under therapeutic theresearch investigates psychotherapy as the primary intervention. Theresearch gathers information, findings, and statistics from academicand scientific literature to offer an exhaustive coverage of thetopic. The above analysis surmises the paper by adding insights ongenerational trauma and developing knowledge on trauma.


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