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Severe Stress and Mental Disturbance in Children

Edited by Cynthia R. Pfeffer, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-657-6
  • Item #8657


Severe Stress and Mental Disturbance in Children uniquely blends current research and clinical data on the effects of severe stress on children. Each chapter is written by international experts in their fields.

Stressful events occur throughout the life cycle. But how do major stressful events—accidents, sexual abuse, violence, divorce, adoption, natural disasters—during the developmental stages relate to adulthood?

Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, pediatricians, other health care and medical professionals, and students can use this book as a current review of the topic, a reference, and a clinical guide. It offers a new perspective on the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of stress in children.


  • Prologue.

    Neurodevelopmental and Neurobiological Models of Stress in Human and Nonhuman Subjects.

    Effect of reactivity and social competence on individual responses to severe stress in children: investigations using nonhuman primates. Neurophysiological mechanisms of stress response in children. Early environment and the development of individual differences in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal stress response.

    Sudden Unexpected Trauma.

    Coping with natural disasters. The avianca airline crash: implications for community health care response. Exposure to catastrophic violence and disaster in childhood.

    Relationship Between Medical Illness and Stress.

    Emotional stressors and the onset of asthma. Stress, depression, mood, and immunity. Stress and pediatric medical technology. The severe stress of childhood cancer: a systems perspective. Coping with chronic medical illness: lessons from children and adolescents with diabetes mellitus.

    Suicide as Stressor and as Mediator of Stress.

    Suicidal behavior as a response to stress. A test of the diathesis-stress model of adolescent depression in friends and acquaintances of adolescent suicide victims. Siblings of youth suicide victims. Abuse and its traumatic impact. Physical and sexual abuse and mental disturbances in children. Multiple personality disorder: a legacy of trauma. Abuse and the development of dissociative symptoms and dissociative identity disorder. A developmental-interaction model of child abuse.

    Effects of Extreme Stress Factors on Developmental Processes.

    Traumatic stress in infancy and early childhood: expression of distress and developmental issues. Adoption: its benefits and problems. Family transitions as stressors in children and adolescents. Bereavement as a significant stressor in children. Epilogue: implications for clinical practice and research. Index.

About the Authors

Cynthia R. Pfeffer, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at Cornell University Medical College and Chief of the Child Psychiatry Inpatient Unit at New York Hospital—Westchester Division. She is a past president of the American Association of Suicidology and of the New York Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is currently the Co-Editor of the Newsletter International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions. Dr. Pfeffer was Chairperson of the Committee on the Chronically ill and Emotionally Handicapped Children of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and was the Chair of the Committee on Family Violence and Sexual Abuse.

This is an excellent book, likely to be of interest to researchers and clinicians alike and a fine source of seminar material for students.—Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry

Dr. Cynthia Pfeffer and her colleagues have made an important contribution to the field of child and adolescent psychiatry. In one comprehensive and highly readable volume, Dr. Pfeffer has brought together the state of our knowledge on the adverse effects of severe stress on children and adolescents.—Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

This book clearly succeeds in presenting the most current understanding of the effects of severe stress and its etiologic contribution to mental disturbance in children. The book should be read by those interested in developmental research, clinical practice with people of all ages who have experienced sever stress in their life, and by those who teach about the effects of stress on development.—Psychiatric Times

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