Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Myth of Child Resiliency

Bruce Perry has made it his life's work to understand how trauma affects children, and to develop innovative ways to help them cope with it. In 1996, he founded the Child Trauma Academy, since research demonstrates that the impact of PTSD is far greater on on children than it is on adults.

Children can recover from unspeakable trauma -- but adults' responses to children during and after traumatic events can greatly affect their chances of recovery.

Quotes from
The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog:

- "It's hard to imagine today, but when I was in medical school in the early 1980's, researchers didn't pay much attention to the lasting damage that psychological trauma can produce. Even less consideration was given to how trauma mgiht harm children. It wasn't considered relevant. Children were believed to be naturally "resilient" with an innate ability to "bounce back."

- "The brain is a historical organ. It stores our personal narrative. Our life experiences shape who we become by creating our brain's catalog of template memories, which guide our behavior, sometimes in ways we can consciously recognize, more often via processes beyond our awareness."

- "if anything, children are more vulnerable to trauma than adults... Resilient children are made, not born. The developing brain is most malleable and sensitive to experiences - both good and bad - early in life."

- "Children become resilient as a result of the patterns of stress and nurturing that they experience early on in life... we are rapidly and easily transformed by trauma when we are young. Though its effects may not always be visible to the untrained eye, when you know what trauma can do to children, sadly, you begin to see its aftermath everywhere."

- "Ultimately, what determines how children survive trauma, physically, emotionally , or psychologically, is whether the people around them - particularly the adults they should be able to trust and rely upon - stand by them with love, support and encouragement."

The story in this book that most deeply affected me as a reader was one about a three-year-old girl named Sandy who witnessed her mother's murder, and almost died herself.

Yet, her CPS caseworker did not believe that she needed to see a mental health professional. For nine months, Sandy was moved from foster home to foster home, with no counseling whatsoever -- and the details of her life were not shared with any of her foster parents because she was in hiding from the murderer.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

No Man's Woman; Nobody's Child

"I could see in a flash the extreme pleasure I'd taken in being related to no one.

"I'd actually managed to feel superior about my isolation, I was subtle about it but I could see that I'd turned it into a form of self-congratulation.

"I wasn't the common product of the middle class. I wasn't a party to any convoluted drama. The feuds, the unspoken alliances, secret agreements and petty tyrannies.

"Of course, I wasn't a party to the good stuff either."

- Sue Grafton, J is for Judgment