Some pain would persist over several generations

Many adults and children are affected by somatic disorders without being able to identify the real cause of their suffering. Recently, researchers have precisely studied the question of the transmission of post-traumatic pain between parents and children. They analyzed the relationship between the state of post-traumatic stress of a mother victim of violence and the seriousness of her somatization and that of her descent.

In fact, adults who have been traumatized in childhood have a increased rate of somatization. These are psychic pains resulting in physical ailments which may lead them to a medical consultation. This situation has raised questions among scientists about the impact of parental trauma on children.

Their analysis revealed that the severity of a mother’s post-traumatic stress disorder during her child’s pregnancy is a predictor of her future somatization. The results were revealed in the magazine Frontiers in Psychiatry.

The repercussions of maternal trauma on the mother-child relationship?

With his team, Professor Schechter carried out a study on a sample of 64 mother-child pairs. The mothers were affected by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after suffering a domestic violence during childhood or adulthood. In many cases, this violence followed sexual or physical abuse.

To begin with, the researchers attempted to determine the ratio between mothers’ PTSD and the severity of their somatization when their children are still 1 to 3 years old. The results of this survey showed that traumatized mothers are more likely to have physical pain unrelated to a apparent illness.

“This situation of the mother undoubtedly affects her relationships with her offspring, in particular their ability to understand their non-verbal exchanges, including emotions. »

Daniel Schechter, assistant physician at SUPEA

Five years later, these scientists resumed monitoring mother-child pairs. It shows that the severity of the somatic disorders of the mother during the childhood of her child determines the level of somatization of the latter to school age.

The need to know the family history

In light of the results of the study, it is clear that somatization is passed down from one generation to another during the early stages of child growth. This conclusion is a revelation for pediatricians who were unable to detect the real causes of the physical ailments of their patients.

Until now, many of these cases would have been assimilated to a somatic syndrome due to anxiety or stress. On the other hand, a mother with PTSD risks not understanding the psychological suffering of the child, or even refusing her diagnosis.

“In order to strengthen the follow-up of the patients concerned, we suggest that pediatricians consider the trauma experienced in the family, since it is often not expressed in words, but in the body. »

Daniel Schechter, assistant physician at SUPEA


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