Examine the Causes, Symptoms and Effects of Childhood Trauma

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Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causing feeling of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013, p271). Childhood trauma is a serious adverse of childhood experiences. There are a lot of factors that cause childhood trauma for example domestic violence, physical substance and sexual abuse, terrorism, grief and neglect. When one is starting to lead a traumatic life, some symptoms start to evoke and they range from mild to severe. There are emotional, psychological and physical symptoms to trauma and some examples are headaches, anger, denial and confusion. The effects of this trauma can even be psychiatric disorders and heightened distress. Therefore, this essay shall shade more light on the causes, symptoms and effect of childhood trauma.

One of the most significant causes of childhood trauma is growing up with a carer or parent who is a chronic abuser of alcohol and drugs. The family is said to be the primary factor in a child’s life hence the child reflects upon what he or she sees when growing up. Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol or illicit drugs (World Health Organization, 2014). This causes trauma because a person becomes emotionally drained because of feeling neglected as the guardian or parent will be emotionally unavailable. Substance abuse can even cause one to be foul as they hardly can control speech. The symptoms of a person who grew up in such a set up and is still traumatic as they continuously mirror on past events can differ from age to age. However, the most common is low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence. This is because of the absence of moral support during the upbringing of the child. This can has a terrible effect as one can lose opportunities like jobs as these require self-confidence. Also, they face difficulties in socialization because they cannot speak for or against. Thus, one can safely conclude that growing up with a substance abuser can be traumatic in one’s life.

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Moreover, physical abuse can also be the source of childhood trauma. According to Eli H Newberger (1990), physical abuse can be defined as the infliction of pain on a person. Sometimes a child can be a victim whilst at the other hand they watch someone experiencing physical abuse. This can threaten their life as they are likely to grow in fear or executing the same traits they used to see. An example of a symptom is a violent person as well. The majority of abusive and violent people show symptoms of bitterness and anger for example a child who grow up seeing his mother being beaten everyday can do that later on in life as well. According to National Wide Children’s, “physical abuse is the second most common cause of child maltreatment.” These ate the effects of not treating childhood trauma as well because some people can later on suffer the consequences of that. Kazakhsthan unveiled how physical abuse and trauma have a correlation and he shows how adults suffering from trauma between the ages of 25-30 years reported physical abuse during their childhood... This cause of trauma can be concluded to be risky because one is most likely to carry this from childhood into adulthood and this can cause adult depression to psychiatric disorders as well because physical abuse results mostly to an unpleasant and unhappy environment. Hence, it is safe to say that physical abuse causes childhood trauma considering the above evidence.

Furthermore, another cause of childhood trauma is neglect. Federal State Laws (March, 2019) defines child neglect as,” failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, and wellbeing are threatened with harm.” There are many types of neglect namely physical and emotional to mention a few. Neglect is different from abuse because abuse is intentional whilst neglect sometimes happens without the parent even noticing. This causes physical or psychological harm. As mentioned above, parents do not always neglect their children intentionally as this is also caused by past trauma or such behaviors are also inherited from parents as they would have faced neglect before. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there were approximately 672 000 maltreated children in the US whilst 1 000 are reported victims of childhood neglect. This shows the depth of seriousness of childhood neglect and it has negative impacts as it causes pathological behavior and tantrums since a person’s behavior was not monitored from the beginning. “While physical may or may not be immediately visible, abuse and neglect can have consequences for children, families and society that last for a lifetime” (Childwelfare). This is because a person who is neglected mostly develops a strong sense of individualism. Common symptoms of neglect are drug and alcohol abuse as one will be trying to escape and compensate for the time they are not given as well as escapism from what they are lacking. Thus, one can denote the depth of neglect in causing childhood trauma.

In line with the above, another common cause of trauma that is similar to neglect is parental behavior. A Caron (2002) defines parental behavior as how the carer acts in which to assist the survival or welfare of their child. Sometimes a parent’s behavior is close to child abuse as some parents are full of negativity, blame and sometimes do not even recognize the child. These parental behaviors cause long lasting emotional scars. Symptoms of a person who is under the supervision of a toxic parent can be someone who’s withdrawn and always quiet, anxious and sometimes sends in hints of what the parent is like through speech. This has effects as one turns out to be a lot stressed and even abuse substances leading to mental illnesses as well. According to researchers in child psychiatric, activities done by a child before the age of 10 will influence their future learning patterns. Therefore, parenting skills are significant in the child’s life. This then shows how traits like seeing a violent parent can have an effect of turning the child into violent as well. Hence, it can be concluded that negative parental behaviors can also be a cause for traumatic experiences in one’s life.

Sexual abuse is another major cause of childhood trauma. Sexual child abuse is any sexual activity with a child including fondling, intercourse and exposure to child pornography. This is a very traumatic situation as one tends to grow with it and in most cases hardly forgets about it which makes a person forever bitter. This is most likely to have an effect of suicide as in most cases a person who has experienced sexual abuse withdraws themselves. Sexual abuse also include rape and this has a huge impact as one is exposed to pregnancy and also sexually transmitted diseases. This hinders the welfare of an individual as this has a lot of depression involved. Therefore, considering the above information, one can safely conclude that sexual abuse is another cause of trauma.

To add on, grief is another cause of childhood trauma. I.J Hamilton (2016) defines grief as the emotional process of reacting to the loss of a loved one. Childhood traumatic grief is highly common as sometimes the child can suffer this when they lose a very important figure in their lives like guardian or parents. Unexpected deaths mostly arouse such a condition for example suicide and accident. Some symptoms of this can be physical and some can be psychological as sometimes someone can have too much anger, blame themselves, and face difficulties when sleeping. Grief can be traumatic in the sense that when a person begins to blame themselves especially for death, it becomes hard to delete the picture of the deceased in their head to the extent that this can even cause mental problems. Hence, one can conclude that grief causes childhood trauma.

The other major key aspect of childhood trauma is cyberbullying. As trauma results from a series of events or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful and life threatening and that has lasting adverse on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social or spiritual well-being .Chronic exposure to bullying has been linked to greater emotional ,psychological, and physical distress symptomatology and pathology in children. The disturbances can have long term consequences on children and into their adult years. This is because a person can be bitter all their life towards everyone resulting to them even developing hate towards humans and an introvert behavior more like autism. Thus, one can safely postulate that cyberbulling can cause childhood trauma.

There are a lot of factors that cause childhood trauma including the small things if they are not addressed properly. Another cause of childhood trauma is the separation of parents of guardians. In a nutshell, childhood trauma can be defined as an experience that overwhelms a child so much that they might grow with the impacts. There are a lot of causes of childhood trauma namely violence, grief, abuse and neglect. These traumatic incidences have a lot of negative effects as they cause mental problems, drug and substance abuse as well as depression. More has been elucidated in the essay above.


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