Relational Patterns Between Caregivers With PTSD and Their Nonexposed Children: A Review

The question as to whether or not children can be affected by the traumatization of their parents has been the topic of a long-standing debate. This article provides a critical review of 72 research studies on traumatized parents with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the parent–child interaction, and the impact on their nonexposed child (0–18 years). The evidence suggests that traumatization can cause parenting limitations, and these limitations can disrupt the development of the young child. From the studies reviewed several patterns emerged: Relational patterns of traumatized parents who are observed to be emotionally less available and who perceive their children more negatively than parents without symptoms of PTSD; relational patterns of children who at a young age are easily deregulated or distressed and at an older age are reported to face more difficulties in their psychosocial development than children of parents without symptoms of PTSD; and relational patterns that show remarkable similarities to relational patterns between depressed or anxious parents and their children. Mechanisms such as mentalization, attachment, physiological factors, and the cycle of abuse offer a valuable perspective to further our understanding of the relational patterns. This article builds on previous work by discussing the emerged patterns between traumatized parents and their nonexposed children from a relational and transactional perspective.

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Elisa van Ee, Rolf J. Kleber, Marian J. Jongmans | 2016
In: Trauma violence, & abuse, ISSN 1524-8380 | 17 | 2 | mei | 186-203
OnlineFirst Version of Record - May 11, 2015