The Psychological Assessment of Abused and Traumatized Children

By Francis D. Kelly | Go to book overview

6
Three Faces of Abuse and Trauma:
The Sequelae of Physical, Sexual,
and Complex, Chronic Experiences
of Maltreatment

When considering the impact of maltreatment on a child's psychological structures we are, as has already been suggested, still exploring largely uncharted terrain. Ornduff's ( 1997) findings that different types of abuse (i.e., physical versus sexual) differentially influence one dimension of personality functioning; a child's object relations provides an excellent paradigm illustrating how and why this may transpire. It has only been quite recently that projective material from the Rorschach and the TAT have been subjected to scrutiny by clinicians who seek to better comprehend how experiences of trauma and abuse are internalized and organized into a complex multidimensional cognitive-affective schema ultimately serving to mediate and guide the child's subsequent adaptational efforts. Both nomothetic and idiographic perspectives provide clinicians and researchers with critical lenses, guided and influenced by a literature that increasingly speaks to the necessity for integrative paradigms ( Acklin, 1995; P. Lerner, 1996a; Masling, 1997) in order to maximize interpretive possibilities, ultimately enhancing the accuracy of diagnostic impressions and the applicability of clinical formulations.

In this chapter, we continue to consider how various types of specific maltreatment influence, interrupt, and alter the child's psychological development. Clinical illustrations underscore how trauma and abuse are represented in Rorschach and TAT responses, providing examples of how self, object, and drive oscillate, interrelate, and realize symbolic expression when standardized measures of object relations and ego functions are evaluated. The approach to the data emphasizes an interpretive admixture of

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