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Keywords:

  • child abuse;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • child sexual abuse;
  • sequelae of child abuse;
  • incest

Abstract

A variety of symptoms have been described as sequelae of physical and sexual abuse in childhood. This review suggests that some of these symptoms can be understood as developmentally mediated manifestations of posttraumatic disorders. Like traumatized combat or concentration camp survivors, severely abused children develop anxiety, compulsive repetitions, sleep disturbances and depression, ego constriction, and disturbed expressions of anger. The example of incest trauma illustrates how developmental transformations of childhood post-traumatic symptoms can produce the varying patterns of presenting psychopathology seen in adult survivors.