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Marans, S. (2014). Intervening with Children and Families Exposed to Violence (Part I). J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 13(4):350-357.

(2014). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 13(4):350-357

Intervening with Children and Families Exposed to Violence (Part I)

Steven Marans

I am delighted to present this afternoon, especially after my good friend and colleague, Jonathan Cohen, and I would like to underline something that Jon said that goes to the heart of what we think about when we think about the psychoanalytic aims of all our work, regardless of where it occurs: the idea of illumination and helping people to find a frame of reference and words for what is so often unspeakable and often unknowable. This aim informs all the work that we do regardless of with whom and where we do it. It is also my pleasure to be joined by Dean Esserman, the co-developer of the Child Development Community Policing Program. We are going to talk about why we began doing what we did and introduce you to some of the components of the program.

In 1990 I was called to the New Haven Hospital surgical floor because there was a 15-year-old who had been shot twice in the upper thighs. His friend was in a coma in the intensive care unit with gunshot wounds to the head and the chest. The reason I was called was that the hospital’s consultation/liaison service had already been called and they were having a very tough time with this 15-year-old, who was medically stable but completely noncompliant with any of the efforts to treat him during his hospital stay. When I arrived on the floor the team greeted me and said, “Boy, is this kid a pain in the ass” and they paused and said, “and is he scary!” So I walked in and introduced myself and the kid just glared at me and then sort of opened his mouth; he had stenciled gold teeth that had “RIP” on the top and his initials on the bottom. I am going to make this story very brief, but this is a boy who, at the age of 2, was diagnosed with Wilms tumor and who went through a whole series of intrusive painful treatments. His mother was chronically depressed; his father was a mainline heroin addict. The boy witnessed scores upon scores of incidents of domestic violence where the father would come home and beat the mother and take whatever money and valuables there were to feed his habit. The boy moved constantly, was in one school after another, failing in one classroom after another, until finally he was on the streets in our town of New Haven where he had been arrested several times prior to this shooting incident. He was involved in street-level drug dealing, first as a lookout and then actually selling.

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