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Santostefano, S. MacAuley, L. O'Connell, B. Estévez, M.A. Santostefano, S.R. Burke, P. (2006). What Abandoned Children Construe as Stressful Experiences: Implications for Psychoanalytic Relational Theory and Child Psychotherapy. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 5(1):1-23.

(2006). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 5(1):1-23

What Abandoned Children Construe as Stressful Experiences: Implications for Psychoanalytic Relational Theory and Child Psychotherapy

Sebastiano Santostefano, Ph.D., ABPP, Lindsay MacAuley, B.A, Bridget O'Connell, B.A, Maria Angeles Quiroga Estévez, Ph.D., Susan Rooney Santostefano, MED and Patricia Burke, Ph.D.

As part of psychological evaluations to determine whether interventions were needed, 106 abandoned children (aged 5 to 19 years) residing in SOS-Kinderdorf International Children's Villages in Spain were individually administered a structured interview to learn what each child construed as upsetting. Before admission, each child had been exposed to one of three traumatic, interpersonal experiences: excessive neglect; physical abuse; and parents who were prostitutes, abusing drugs, or both. In an unexpected finding, the events these children discussed most often as having upset them did not focus on abandonment or on traumatic conditions they had endured. Rather, converging with reports of public school children residing with their families in the United States, the events they discussed concerned harm to loved ones (e.g., accident, illness, hospitalization). In addition, children who had been visiting relatives while residing in a Children's Village differed from those who had not visited relatives in what they experienced as traumatic. The results are examined in terms of implications for psychoanalytic-relational theory and for planning treatment programs for children who have been abandoned or are living in institutions.

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