GenerationalTrauma: Child Neglect
Traumais a common occurrence in individuals grappling with seriouslife-experiences and conditions. The death of a child may pose itselfas a cause of trauma leading to distress, agony and torment to theloved ones. The increased researches and radical studies inpsychology have attempted to tackle the condition, and there is agreat improvement in psychological studies to counter the situation.This paper will examine generational trauma from the context oflosing a child and incidences relating to the life and the well-beingof children. Of particular interest for the analysis will be todiscuss the primary measures dealing with generational trauma: professional assistance and spiritual intervention. Apart fromdealing with the condition, the paper will also discuss a range oftherapeutic intervention measures: behavioral therapy, cognitivetherapy, and family therapy. All of these actions assist in theproper tackling of the psychological issues of a child loss andinfluence the practices leveraged by parents and loved ones indealing with this category of trauma.
GenerationalTrauma: Child Neglect
Generationaltrauma, also known as trans-generational trauma, is a form ofconstant distress and agony that is transferred from one generationof survivors 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’s self-identity, and conditions that destroythe sense of self. Victims of war, hostages, concentration campsurvivors and victims of religious cults have been noted to displaycharacteristic of generational trauma.
Researchsupports that generational trauma can be transferred to childrenparticularly due to increasing neglect on the side of parents(Atkinson et al., 2010). The incidences mentioned above includingwar, hostage, and escaping from religious cults impair the psychologyof victims, who with children, may focus on dealing with thelong-term side effects of the trauma and fail to pay attention tochild upbringing (Babbel, 2011). These situations have a highlikelihood of leading to child abandonment. Parents may fail toattend to children’s recreation activities as well as fail toengage them at every stage of their development. Parents are alsoreported to transfer the childcare responsibility to caregivers andother personnel (Babbel, 2011).
Theculmination of small neglects creates a more destructive impactcommonly known as generational trauma. Children develop a reducedsense of self-worth, struggle with self-esteem, struggle withacademic work, and have little educational attainment andperformances. They are likely to see themselves lesser talented thanfellow peers. In worse situations, child neglect may lead to childrendeveloping trauma such that they share the pain and distress thattheir parents may be facing. Psychological sources support thatchildcare, shelter, nourishment, and comfort should not be taken forgranted. Hence, these needs mentioned should be readily available,accessible, and convenient at every stage of a child’s development(Babbel, 2011).
A2006 statistical reporting by the Department of Human Servicesreveals that child neglect is a rampant problem in America withnumbers that unfortunately exceed both child and physical abusenumbers (Staggs, 2016). The report further showed that children wereneglected at a rate of 1.62% and out of this number, 64.3%experienced massive neglect and later developed generational trauma.In 2006 alone, 1,530 children died from child neglect(Staggs, 2016).There were slightly higher abandonment numbers in females than males.Further statistics also record that child neglect has gradually ledto trauma on children, and this is solely caused by parents’traumatic experiences (Babbel, 2011).
CAUSESOF TRAUMA IN GENERAL
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 result in generational trauma.The analysis believes that by examining the immediate causes oftrauma, it will shed light on the development of generational traumato second, third, and even fourth generations.
Deathof 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 soft touch of their children’s hands when they werealive. Given that such a child has not fully developed into an adult,parents have a lot of hope, expectations, and longing for thedevelopment and maturity of their offspring. These expectations areimmediately blurred or even cut short by death. The loss of a childposes a significant impact to the mother, who after bearing the childhad viewed the offspring as the only hope in her life (Mark, 2015).Children have been seen as that link that binds the family together.Thus, when a misfortune strikes and a child dies there is alikelihood of the couples losing touch in marriage. A child givessense to a marital relationship, and in most cases, signifiescompleteness and stability of marriage. A range of traumaticincidences, therefore, proves to stem from child loss and mostlyaffect mothers due to the close relationship that exists with theirchildren ( Babbel, 2011).
Prolongedillness such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and chronic diseases 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. A family member diagnosedwith a serious illness, for example, will require a comprehensiveinsurance coverage. It means the family will invest heavily ininsurance leaving other areas and issues unattended (Cori, 2007).Trauma-related diseases affect two categories of people: the victimhimself and individuals close to the victim. In the latter category,children feel traumatized when one of the parents suffers from asevere disease. They are troubled when they see the mother takingcare of their father’s illness. They suffer agony and distress whenthey remember the ‘happy times’ they shared with their fatherwhen he was energetic and enthusiastic. Seeing the father on the bedand making constant visits to the hospital leaves a lot to be desiredregarding affection, connection, and belonging (Cori, 2007).
Itis 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 make them users of 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. The research, therefore, supports that accidents affectthe victim, destroy their experiences, and future anticipations(Cori, 2007).
Thus,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).
TheKatrina hurricane destroyed homes of hundreds of people which causedmental turmoil among the victims (Schwab, 2010). In the August of2005, thousands of New Orleans residents were displaced to newlocations, some died, families lost touch, and there were otherconsequences to the victims. Natural events like hurricanes, floods,fire, famine, and earthquake affect the social life of families(Atkinson, 2012). It leads to poverty due to loss of property andchildren are often secured in children homes and other care settings.The aftermath of disastrous and catastrophic natural events is aseries of psychological impairments to victims (Schwab, 2010). Thisresearch believes that natural phenomena are also a leading cause oftrauma. Victims have little options at their disposal they areforced restructure their livelihoods, to re-adjust to new conditionsand environs, and may lose loved ones in natural catastrophes. Theculmination of both short and long-term impacts of natural disastersis traumatic and may cause other related forms of depression.
Tragedymay be sub-divided into other smaller categories including escapingfrom a religious cult, kidnapping and being held, hostage. Anindividual held hostage for a significant period stays for longwithout seeing or interacting with their family members if they arebeing held hostage by a non-family member. There are major concernswhether the person is alive and safe. The growing uncertainty aboutthe safety and well-being of the victims affects the psychology offamily members (and even children) often leading to trauma (Bombay etal., 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 escape. When escapees of such cultscontemplate their past lives in those organization and the thingsthey did and are overwhelmed by guilty they start experiencingepisodes of trauma. The individuals realize that they lost theirfamilies in the process, lost touch with friends, and are looked downby the society. Coping up with this realization is a nightmare thatunfortunately leads to trauma.
DEALINGWITH GENERATIONAL TRAUMA
Theabove-discussed causes of trauma are usually long-term and can becarried along by survivors to future generations, mostly children,and grandchildren. 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. Both psychological therapy and spiritualresponses are used to assist victims to have a better outlook on thefuture and to develop the necessary skills to overcome negativesituations in their lives. The research believes that when victimsfail to outlive their trauma, their experience will consequently leadto child neglect, and as discussed in previous sections of theresearch, victims can pass tragic experiences to children (Babbel,2011)
Psychotherapyis a central concept for 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 victims to view theircondition 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.
Thegradual changing of victims’ mindset also strives to make themunderstand that a traumatic incidence is not [or has never] had morevalue than their lives. Although psychotherapy can be done to treatand to counter specific conditions, these talks, conversations, anddiscussions usually apply to a wide range of conditions. Academicsources advise that psychiatrists will use psychotherapy to addressmood disorders [such as bipolar and depression], anxiety disorders[PTSD, panic disorder, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder],personality disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictions(Courtois, 2010). Scholarly sources support that psychotherapy can beas effective 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).
Thequest for spiritual nourishment coupled with individuals’ searchfor something to believe in, allows religion to be a significantintervention for trauma. Studies support that trauma force 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).
Issuesthat stand as barriers between an individual and God are identifiedand discussed exhaustively. Individuals are likely to leverage aspiritual dimension in the recovery, and that gives hope for life. Byacknowledging deeper spiritual desires and needs, religiousinterventions have helped create programs that offer support tovictims within a short time. Scholars have revisited spiritualintervention, as it has been seen as a central aspect in convergingtrauma victims and allowing them to share experiences (Meichenbaum,2012). When persons realize the losses of others are critical thantheirs, they are likely to change their personal perspectives abouttheir individual traumas.
Spiritualservices commonly available for trauma programs include eveningBible studies, daily devotion and chapel services, Christiancounseling, topical studies, pastoral guidance, and weekend worshipservices. Thus, this research supports that spiritual intervention iscritical. It changes the environment of the victim since there areactivities that they indulge in making them forget or not to thinkabout their traumas. The church community absorbs individualssuffering from traumatic events, and they acquire brothers andsisters in Christ – and for the first time, they find another phaseof life (Courtois, 2010). The church environment is fulfilling and ahaven with promises and expectations for the afterlife.
Thespiritual development and nourishment changes the mindset of victimsand gives the much-needed compassion to overcome trauma. It is alsostated that spiritual intervention denies victims the time to stayalone and to be overwhelmed by internal pressures (Courtois, 2010).Spiritual renewal programs feature 87% of recoveries, and more than70% of trauma victims feel the church uses the necessary improvementmeasures (Courtois, 2010). Most victims also acknowledge thatreligious environments provide psychological harmony and create awhole new experience for trauma victims.
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 be used to address the psychological needs of patients. Inthis section of the professional research assistance is categorizedinto two broad groups that include cognitive behavioral therapy andexposure therapy. The two categories of professional interventionwill be discussed separately, and the paper will examine how eachpractice contributes to the successful recovery of trauma victims.
TheCBT approach is based on the concept that thoughts, feelings, actionsand physical sensations are interconnected. Thus, this form ofprofessional assistance does not solve the problems completely itsolely assists the victims to deal with arising conditions positivelyand successfully. The cognitive behavioral therapy came intoexistence when psychologists realized that negative feelings andthoughts are trapped victims into a vicious circle (SAMHSA, 2011). Itwas a cycle that was ultimately doomed and one that formed aparticular pattern of life, for individuals experiencing trauma.There have been developments in the CBT approaches and the basicsteps now involve:
Identificationof troubling conditions – The therapists spend adequate time withvictims in the identification of the problem that may have caused thetrauma such as divorce, medical conditions, grief, and symptoms of aserious medical condition. Full identification of the challengesallows psychologists to identify what concerns to focus on earlier inthe CBT process.
Becomingaware of troubling thoughts and conditions – After successfulidentification of challenges, victims are required to be aware ofrespective conditions. Victims are encouraged to share their ideasabout conditions facing them and to define the context of theproblems (National Health Services, 2015). Victims also interpret themeaning of unique situations through self-talk. Professionals willrequire individuals to keep a journal of their thoughts concerningtraumatic symptoms.
Inaccuratethinking – Professionals advice that victims should pay closeattention to personal responses. Individuals are informed to be keenon how they respond physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Thisway, they may realize a change in response and put the effort inre-adjusting to positive responses.
Shapingpositive thinking – This is the last stage of the CBT, and itinvolves a long-sitting with a psychologist. It helps victims toidentify positive thoughts and to develop very positive perceptionsabout life (National Health Services, 2015). In this step,professionals will change the perspective of victims in an attempt tohelp them develop healthy emotional, behavioral and physicalresponses.
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 the status,level of stress, and the amount of pressure received from familymembers (Dublin South Psychology Service, 2012). The research revealsthat cognitive behavioral therapy is a professional approach withimmense potential to solve a traumatic experience.
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 as evidence -based practice for dealing with trauma amongchildren and adolescents. Exposure therapy utilizes trauma narrativesto allow persons ‘pour out’ their feelings and thoughts of agonyand distress. Research supports that exposure can be done into twomain ways through exposure at the same time [called flooding] andthe desensitization which refers to the generation of tolerance toallow victims live with trauma without paying much attention to it(SAMHSA, 2011).
Exposuretherapies are built on the principle that individuals who communicateinternal pressures are likely to develop tolerance to conditions.Trauma proves hazardous and devastating when internal pressure proveshard to bear and consequently affects the response of the victim.Significant responses affected by trauma include emotional, physicaland behavioral. My 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. Moreapparently, child neglect leads to generational trauma since childrenare forced to absorb the agony of their parents. They are also likelyto develop trauma due to reduced self-worth and self-esteem resultingfrom abandonment (Babbel, 2011). Of particular concern for theresearch was to address the factors necessary for dealing withtrauma.
Thesefactors have been classified into three main categories therapeuticapproaches, spiritual, and professional mechanisms. Underprofessional methods, the paper has discussed both cognitive andbehavioral therapy and under therapeutic the research investigatespsychotherapy as the primary intervention. The study gathersinformation, findings, and statistics from academic and scientificliterature to offer an exhaustive coverage of the topic. The aboveanalysis surmises the paper by adding insights on generational traumaand developing knowledge on trauma.
Atkinson,J. (2012). Educatinga Trauma Informed Approach to Healing Generational Trauma forAboriginal Australians.We Al-li Official.
Atkinson,J., Nelson, J., & Atkinson, C. (2010). TraumaTransgenerational Transfer and Effects on Community Wellbeing. Teleon Kids Organisation.
Babbel,S. (2011). ChildNeglect and Adult PTSD.Psychology Today Official. Retrieved fromhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/somatic-psychology/201102/child-neglect-and-adult-ptsd.
Bombay,A., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2009). Intergenerational Trauma:Convergence of Multiple Processes among First Nations People inCanada. The National Aboriginal Health Organisation [NAHO] OfficialWebsite. Retrieved fromhttp://www.naho.ca/documents/journal/jah05_03/05_03_01_Intergenerational.pdf.
Bryant,D. (2010). Spirituality,Religion and Child Trauma Recovery.Dr. Thema Official. Retrieved fromhttp://www.drthema.com/assets/pdf/spirituality_childtrauma.pdf.
Cori,J. (2007). Healingfrom trauma: A survivor`s guide to understanding your symptoms andreclaiming your life.New York, NY: Marlowe & Co.
Courtois,C. (2010). UnderstandingComplex Trauma, Complex Reactions, and Treatment Approaches.The Gift from Within Organisation.
DublinSouth Psychology Service. (2012). Copingwith Trauma: Information Sheet.The Dublin South Psychology Service Official. Retrieved fromhttp://www.iadt.ie/en/Downloads/Thefile,4132,en.pdf.
Mark,T. (2015). Unlockingthe Secrets of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.Boston University. Retrieved fromhttp://www.bu.edu/alzresearch/files/2015/03/Time-04.05.15-ptsd-brain-bank.pdf.
Meichenbaum,D. (2012). Trauma,Spirituality and Recovery: Towards a Spiritual-integratedPsychotherapy.Melissa Institute Official Website.
NationalHealth Services. (2015). CognitiveBehavioral Therapy.The NHS Official. SAMHSA. (2011). Dealingwith the Effects of Trauma – A Self-Help Guide.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[SAMHSA].
Schwab,G. (2010). Hauntinglegacies: Violent histories and transgenerational trauma.New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Staggs,S. (2016). Psychotherapy Treatment for PTSD. PsychCentral.Retrieved on May 6, 2016, fromhttp://psychcentral.com/lib/treatment-of-ptsd/.