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Keywords:

  • Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents (DICA);
  • Harvard/Uppsala Trauma Questionnaire (H/UTQ);
  • Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP);
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
  • psychic trauma;
  • transgenerational study;
  • torture victims

This article details a study to test the hypothesis that immigrant children whose parents have been tortured before coming to Sweden suffer from depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress symptoms, somatisation and behavioural disorders. Fifteen families where at least one of the parents had experienced torture were compared with fifteen families from a similar ethnic and cultural background where their parents might have experienced violence but not torture. The parents were investigated using interviews, the Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP) and Harvard/Uppsala Trauma Questionnaire (H/UTQ). The children were assessed using the DICA-interview according to DSM-IV. On the H/UTQ test, traumatised parents scored higher with respect to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, somatisation, anxiety and psychosocial stress symptoms. On the KSP, they scored higher on nine of the fifteen sub-scales. The fathers in the tortured group scored higher than their wives only on the sub-scale for guilt. According to the DICA-interviews, the children of tortured parents had more symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, attention deficits and behavioural disorders compared with the comparison group. Social workers, psy-chiatrists, psychologists and teachers need to be aware of a possible transmission of parents’ traumatic experiences to their children and to develop treatment methods for children of torture victims.