Developmental Trauma Disorder

childhood_trauma

Researchers van der Kolk et al. have proposed that children who are significantly psychologically and emotionally disturbed as a result of their traumatic upbringings be diagnosed with Developmental Trauma Disorder  (although the proposed diagnosis is not yet included in the DSM or, to give it its full title, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness).

The researchers who propose the diagnosis argue that the various diagnoses disturbed children currently receive, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder and anxiety, are too narrow, restricted and limiting and, furthermore, do not recognize or acknowledge the ‘big picture’ (i.e. the full extent and range of the damage that has been done to child’s functioning).

childhood trauma disorder

They also argue that limited and narrow diagnoses like Oppositional Defiant Disorder lead to clinicians focusing too much on correcting the behaviour at the expense of identifying and understanding the underlying cause of it (i.e. the trauma that the child has suffered).

Van der Kolk, in his book The Body Keeps Score (see below) describes Developmental Trauma Disorder as having three prime features; these are as follows:

1) A pervasive pattern of dysregulation:

According to van der Kolk, this may entail dramatic mood swings, outbursts of extreme temper, panic, detachment, flatness, dissociation and the inability to self-sooth

2) Impaired ability to pay attention and concentrate (due to agitation and hyperarousal)

3) Impaired ability to get along with others and, as van der Kolk puts it, ‘a failure to get along with [ oneself ].’

 

Associated Physical Symptoms:

Van der Kolk also draws our attention to the fact that, because the child suffering from Developmental Trauma Disorder is constantly in a state of high stress (and, subsequently, is likely to have an abnormally high level of stress hormones – such as cortisol – coursing through his/her veins) s/he will also be susceptible to various physical symptoms; these include:

– headaches

– sleep disruption

– stomach upsets

– oversensitivity to sounds and tactile experiences

– problems with fine motion movements

Extreme Need To Relieve Stress:

The young person with Developmental Trauma Disorder, in an attempt to alleviate the severe stress s/he perpetually feels, may, also, according to van der Kolk:

– self-harm (e.g. cutting self with razor)

– masturbate excessively

– rock to and fro whilst sitting down

Neediness And Self-Hatred:

If the child has been rejected and/or largely ignored by his/her parents/caregivers this may lead him/her to become extremely ‘needy’ and ‘clingy.’

Also, s/he is likely to have internalized his/her parents’/caregivers’ negative view of him/her and therefore develop feelings of self-hatred, of being intrinsically unlovable, and of being worthless and of no value to others.

Resources:

To purchase van der Kolk’s book/eBook, click on image below:

 

To purchase Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Borderline Personality Disorder click image below:

 

BPD

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of childhoodtraumarecovery.com. Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Post Navigation