Abstract: Childhood Physical Abuse and Memory
Mentor: Dr. Kayleen Islam-Zwart, Psychology
Historically researchers studying the effects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on memory have focused on adults, mainly Vietnam Veterans (Elkins, 1997). Findings indicate a variety of cognitive deficits (Buckley, 2000). Recently researchers have begun to identify PTSD in children (Beers & De Bellis, 2002). Yet, not many studies address the long-term, no so obvious cognitive consequences of a child being hurt physically and/or feeling that his/her life might be in danger. In cases of abuse, which is defined as any action that is harmful (either physically or psychologically) to an individual's well-being, the child not only has to live with the abuser who is bigger and stronger than him/herself, but he/she has to depend on them for food, water, and shelter. It is unclear how this childhood trauma will affect cognitive functioning for adults. Currently, rates of childhood sexual and physical abuse have been estimated in community samples to range from 11% to 62% in women and 3% to 39% in men (Bremmer et al., 1995; Finkelhor & Hotaling, 1984; Kercher & McShane, 1984). Furthermore, figures are usually based on reported abuse, meaning that the actual numbers are likely higher.
37th AABT Convention 11/20-23/2003
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