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Terr, L.C. (1979). Children of Chowchilla—A Study of Psychic Trauma. Psychoanal. St. Child, 34:547-623.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 34:547-623

Children of Chowchilla—A Study of Psychic Trauma

Lenore C. Terr, M.D.

IN THE SUMMER OF 1976, 26 CHILDREN WERE KINDAPPED IN CHOW-chilla, a rural community, population 5,000, in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Chowchilla is a middle-class town; there is some poverty, but no affluence. In June and July children attend summer school for morning academic courses and afternoon swimming.

At the time of the kidnapping, I considered volunteering my services, but I did not because no one in the community asked for help. In late November 1976, Dr. Romulo Gonzales, a Fresno child psychiatrist, forwarded to me an article "Chowchilla: The Bitterness Lingers" (Miller and Tompkins, 1976), in which several parents complained that no one was helping their children who by now were suffering from nightmares and fears. The newspaper article was an unmistakable plea for help. I phoned one of the parents who had been quoted in the article, and she responded at once to my offer of limited crisis treatment and a research study. I met with a small group of parents on December 16, 1976.

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