Understanding Traumatized and Maltreated Children: The Core Concepts
Series 1 Parts 4-7. (4) Neglect: How Poverty of Experience Disrupts Development; (5) The Fear Response: The Impact of Childhood Trauma; (6) Living & Working with Traumatized Children; (7) Violence & Childhood
Coalition Staff Member Review
Though Dr. Perry recorded this 4-DVD series in 2004, the concepts and suggestions are still as relevant and informative today as then, and I learned some new things watching this series. For example, Dr. Perry talks about how we are neurobiologically designed to work in groups. The more social/emotional interaction you have as a child, the more your brain grows in the direction of relationships. Many children who are neglected grow up in environments where they are isolated much of the time and don’t have opportunities to interact with other people. These children have social/emotional brain development that is very different from children from healthy family situations.
Trauma is described in depth in this series. The child who has experienced chronic trauma will be living constantly in a low-level state of fear. The fear response is just beneath the surface all the time, and then certain situations, such as a new and unfamiliar experience, will spike that feeling of fear and evoke a dramatic fight, flight, or freeze response.
I learned that the “dissociative response” is what some people display when they have fear. This is when they cope with an inescapable threat by going inwards. I think this is what they mean by the “freeze” response.
There tend to be gender differences in how children respond to fear: females dissociate more than males. Males tend to have more external behaviors. Boys are more often diagnosed with conduct disorder, ADHD, and with other diagnoses where they get medicated at young ages. Girls often don’t get noticed because they dissociate and go inwards. They often don’t connect for help until they self-present at a clinic or with a therapist, often at much older ages, or even adulthood.
Overall, I found Dr. Perry’s explanations and examples to be very clear, organized, and insightful. His concepts and research are foundational and are part of the trauma-informed parenting principles to this day. These are concepts every caregiver of neglected or abused children should know. There are certainly better examples of how-to’s in other, more recent pieces of training for caregivers, but the concepts presented here are the basis for that information.
The series holds your interest, is split into nicely organized frameworks, and is easy to watch. I recommend it for anyone involved in foster care, adoption, or child welfare.Author: Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD
Additional Author: The Child Trauma Academy & Linkletter Films