Project BrainHeart

Illustrated brain development research

Trauma and its effects

“Trauma is very common, totally unrecognized.
These are issues that most people never touch” –
Dr. Vincent J. Felitti

Things do not always turn out as hoped. Infants and children can evolve in toxic environments – chaotic, neglectful or abusive – which have lasting effects on their emotional lives, cognitive potential, mental health and physical health.

This happens in two ways:

  1. detrimental coping mechanisms, for example the use of food, drink, drugs to feel better
  2. the effects of chronic major unrelieved stress on the workings on the brain, releasing cortisol and suppressing the immunity system

According to Child Mind Institute’s 2016 Children’s Mental Health Report, over “17 million young people have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. Put another way, one out of every five children in the US meets criteria for a major mental disorder.”

Types of trauma

Adverse Childhood Experiences study

In the most famous study on the far-reaching effects of childhood trauma, Dr. Vincent J. Felitti discovered important correlations and uncovered their tragically common incidence. 40% of people experience at least one traumatic event before they reach adulthood.

Neglect – “early neglect can predispose children to reduced empathy and violence.



“The most traumatic aspects of all disasters involve the shattering of human connections.”


About one third of abused children will have serious psychological problems as a result. What determines how well they will do depends on whether they can count on at least one close supportive adult relationship.




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