Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To view citations for the most cited journals…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Statistics of the number of citations for the Most Cited Journal Articles on PEP Web can be reviewed by clicking on the “See full statistics…” link located at the end of the Most Cited Journal Articles list in the PEP tab.


For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Steele, B.F. (1986). Chapter 4: Child Abuse. The Reconstruction of Trauma: Its Significance in Clinical Work, 59-72.

Steele, B.F. (1986). Chapter 4: Child Abuse. The Reconstruction of Trauma: Its Significance in Clinical Work , 59-72

Section II: The Reconstruction of Specific Traumata

Chapter 4: Child Abuse Book Information Previous Up Next

Brandt F. Steele, M.D.

Trauma has long been considered to be important in the instigation of neurosis and other mental disorders, and the maltreatment of children offers some of the clearest examples of the damaging effects of traumatic events occurring in the earliest, formative years of life. Trauma is described as the flooding of the psychic apparatus by stimuli in excess of its ability to cope. Thus there are always two elements and the balance between them to be considered. On the one hand, there is the amount of stimulation and on the other the protection against the excessive stimulation. Freud (1920, pp. 27-31) described the latter as a “protective shield,” and described as “traumatic any excitations from outside which are powerful enough to break through the protective shield.” More recently, this protective function in infancy has been described as a “stimulus barrier,” and in older children and adults we have tended to consider it an ego function, an expression of “ego strength,” which has been acquired during development through interactions with protective care givers.

In physical abuse, there is obviously an increase in the amount of stimulation coming from the body's surface and impinging on the psychic apparatus, although the intensity, duration, and frequency of the abuse can be extremely varied, and the type of abuse can range from bruises, lacerations, and burns to fractures (we are

- 59 -

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2018, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.