Childhood abuse affects cognitive functioning

An article that I found (as seen below) that talks about how much child maltreatment, emotional abuse/physical abuse etc can affect memory, attention, executive funtion, verbal episodic memory and sometimes even IQ.
Reading an old diary from when I was 16 (the only one I kept as it wasn’t too depressing and triggering), I noticed how often I wrote how tired I felt after school, how many times I would struggle with essays/homework and figuring stuff out. I also wrote about how I found it hard to concentrate on projects and essays, how often I needed an afternoon nap, how down I felt and how fed up I felt. I was a good student in primary school but when I was in my teens, everything got worse and became such a struggle. I had grades of 60% usually and only did better when I really liked a class or project we were doing. I was convinced I had a learning disability but I am starting to think that If I had a happier childhood, especially in my teenage years when my grades deteriorated and my depression got worse, I probably would have done better at school and then university.
Next year I want to try my luck at studying Art Therapy at Masters level, but I am very worried about how I will cope. I haven’t written essays in over 10 years, apart from a short personal statement that got me my unconditional offer at the university of my choice. The tutors that accepted me obviously thought I was suitable, mature enough and academic enough to cope with the course and I will also be doing it 3 years part time so will have less pressure. Fingers crossed my CPTSD doesn’t get in the way! This is my first chance to do something for myself, without allowing my parents to sabotage my happiness again!

Child Maltreatment and Later Cognitive Functioning:
          A Systematic Review
    
”Studies that investigated the effects of child
maltreatment on cognitive functioning in adulthood
showed impairment in verbal episodic memory, executive
function, and working memory. On the other hand, studies
of children and adolescents subjected to child maltreatment
revealed impairment in attention and executive functions.
Some conclusions may be drawn from the findings of the
studies analyzed in this review. Firstly, child and adoles-
cence maltreatment has deleterious effects on cognitive
function in childhood and adolescence. The findings that
indicate this remain significant even after controlling for
potential confounders, including IQ, socio-demographic
status, medication use, or comorbid psychiatric disorders.
Broadly speaking, the main findings of the studies included
herein show that subjects exposed to maltreatment (both
adults and children) perform poorly on tasks designed to
assess verbal episodic memory, working memory, atten-
tion, and executive function. Therefore, this study shows
that traumatic stressor events occurring in childhood or
adolescence pose a risk to both short- and long-term de-
velopment by inducing cognitive impairment (Margolin,
2005).
Some of the studies analyzed in this review (Bremner
et al., 1995; Bremner et al., 2004; Navalta et al., 2006)
reported associations between abuse severity and low IQ,
poor performance in verbal and visual memory tasks, and

impaired attention and executive functions (inhibition).

These results clearly show the deleterious effect of pro-
longed exposure to maltreatment on cognitive functioning;
furthermore, they suggest a dire need for studies that take
into account type, severity, and duration of abuse.
Overall,studies that investigated the effects of child maltreatment on cognitive functioning in adulthood showed impairment in verbal episodic memory, executive function, and working memory.

On the other hand, studies of children and adolescents subjected to child maltreatment revealed impairment in attention and executive functions. Some conclusions may be drawn from the findings of the studies analyzed in this review. Firstly, child and adolescence maltreatment has deleterious effects on cognitive function in childhood and adolescence. The findings that indicate this remain significant even after controlling for potential confounders, including IQ, socio-demographic status, medication use, or comorbid psychiatric disorders.Broadly speaking, the main findings of the studies included herein show that subjects exposed to maltreatment (both adults and children) perform poorly on tasks designed to assess verbal episodic memory, working memory, attention, and executive function. Therefore, this study shows that traumatic stressor events occurring in childhood or adolescence pose a risk to both short- and long-term development by inducing cognitive impairment (Margolin,2005).

Exposure to more than one form of maltreatment was
analyzed by Nolin and Ethier (2007), who found that chil-
dren exposed to both neglect and abuse performed worse
on cognitive function tests than did children subjected to
neglect alone. This suggests that exposure to more than
one type of maltreatment may have a worse impact on
cognitive functioning, and thus pose a cumulative risk of
negative developmental effects (Cicchetti & Toth, 2005).”

The above research isn’t my own and belongs to a series of researchers seen as follows:
Tatiana Quarti Irigaray, Janaína Barbosa Pachecob, Rodrigo Grassi-Oliveira,Rochele Paz Fonseca, José Carlos de Carvalho Leitec & Christian Haag Kristensen
url
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4 thoughts on “Childhood abuse affects cognitive functioning

  1. I’m really excited about your decision to pursue a master’s degree! Do you have an undergraduate degree in something similar? I was also thinking about going for an M.A. but not sure my B.S. or previous experience qualify me as an M.A. candidate. You personal statement must have been powerful – is it available somewhere?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I hold a bachelors of Art in Jewellery design and the MA in Art therapy required a psychology, social care or art Bachelors, with at least 1 year experience working with vulnerable groups of people, (children, the elderly, special needs etc). It’s in the UK. What’s your experience,if you don’t mind me asking?

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      • I am in total agreeance with this, I have a son that at the age of 5 was involved with myself and his brother and sister in a near fatal car accident my youngest son was the only one left conscious to see all the broken body’s of the loved ones around him, this traumatized this little soul to the point of now having led a life of drug abuse, knowing deep within the pain he feels, thank you so much for this post.

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        • I’m so sorry to hear of this awful traumatic experience. I hope you haven’t suffered too badly but I can only imagine that it’s been very tough. I’m also sorry to hear of the trauma of your son being awake. Hugs

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