What Is The Effects Of Adverse Childhood Experiences?

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The Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACE) conducted by Felitti et al. (1998) proposed that children who experienced maltreatment and neglect along with dysfunctional family systems were at higher risk for developing physiological and psychological problems later in life. The ACE studies demonstrated the collective effects of negative childhood experiences on physical and mental health issues. These disorders include; substance abuse, suicidal ideality, and depression, as well as a host of medical problems (Putnam, Harris & Putnam, 2013). In addition, the study indicated that exposure to two or more adverse childhood experiences is linked to higher rates of smoking, promiscuity, substance abuse, and eating disorders (Anda et al., 2006). There are three types of adverse childhood experiences; abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual), neglect (physical and emotional), and household dysfunction (incarceration, mental illness, parental violence, divorce, and substance abuse) (Felitti et al., 1998 and Anda et al., 2006). The majority of brain development occurs during the first few years of life. Although genetics provide the basic blueprint for the brain, one’s experiences lay the foundation for future interactions, health, learning, and Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD) was a proposed by Van der Kolk and D’Andrea (2010). The premise of DTD is based on research data of individuals involved in several research studies. According to Van der Kolk and D’Andrea (2010), DTD is the result of living in a fear-based environment which includes, poor treatment by primary caregivers, instability, and neglect. This type of inadequate treatment is often hidden, meaning it is may not be visible on the surface. Neglectful caregiver-infant relationships perpetuate DTD. These interactions relay the message to the infant or child that the world is not safe, is threatening, and is unreliable. This lack of emotional safety is often as damaging as lack of physical safety (Van der Kolk & d’Andrea,

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