Childhood Adolescent Trauma Sample Paper


Many children worldwide go through some horrific life experiences that leave them traumatized. When a child experiences any event that distresses them emotionally and psychologically, they experience uncomfortable or painful physical and mental effects. This work is a review of a book of my choosing that has a strong Childhood/Adolescent Trauma theme. I have chosen the book: It didn’t start with you: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle by Mark Wolynn. Mark Wolynn asserts that unbeknown to many people, many children inherit trauma and other mental disorders from their parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. These inherited traumas shape the lives of children physically, psychologically, emotionally, and behaviorally.

  1. Book Summary

Most people never give any thought to the origin of their fears, phobia, anxiety, and depression. While some children/people get trauma due to a terrifying event, many others inherited trauma and mental health disorders from their mothers, fathers, or grandparents. The emotional legacies passed down to generations are often covert and subtle so that they are not immediately noticed. It is interesting that a relative that suffered the original trauma passed on many years ago, however, some of his/her memories were passed down to the descendants. These traumas encode themselves in every part of humans from the everyday language to gene expression. These memories and feelings play a critical role in physical and psychological functioning.

Children are at a high risk of suffering from trauma based on what they go through. Today, the world has so much pressure that many individuals find it difficult to cope with. Rather than seek help, many children suffer in silence and the long run develop a mental disorder known as PSTD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For very young children under the age of 6 years, the trauma is relived through frightening dreams or re-enacting the event during play. Such children also experience disturbing thoughts that may cause them to behave differently. A personality disorder is one of the many forms of trauma where an individual exhibits a very rigid and unusual pattern of reasoning or thinking and behavior. Patients with personality disorder usually have difficulty in perceiving things and people. This usually brings about problems to such individuals and hampers greatly their social activities and even work. A person’s personality is usually shaped and influenced by their surroundings, experiences, the environment around them as well as inherited traits and characteristics. A personality disorder affects the brain and in the process affects how they think and behave which usually goes against societal expectations.

Mark Wolynn’s book asserts that there are two ways of classification for trauma that is the International Classification of Diseases also called ICD-10 by World Health Organization and the other is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Trauma, also called DSM-5 and is published by the American Psychiatric Association. Both classifications have synchronized the characteristics of trauma, however, some differences exist in each classification. For example, ICD-10 does not recognize narcissistic disorder as a category of personality disorder (Wolynn, 2017). On the other hand, DSM-5 does not also count personality change occurring after a traumatic experience as a personality disorder.

  1. Concrete Responses

           Growing up, I remember my father had difficulty sleeping. He slept a maximum of 4 hours each day. I remember my mother frequently nudging him to seek medication for the problem but my father maintained that he was ok. Due to failure to seek medication, my father developed other complications from insomnia such as acute stress. Due to depression and irritation, my father would get into a heated fight with my mother which sometimes led to a physical fight. My mother would end up getting badly beaten during such fights. Like my father, I am also having a struggle with insomnia. I can barely sleep at night because I have trouble initiating and maintaining sleep. I often wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. I struggle with a lot of issues related to insomnia such as daytime tiredness and irritability. I also get a high level of anxiety and sometimes get very depressed. Just like my father, I get easily irritated and find myself and worry a lot about many things. I also sometimes get panic attacks about how things will turn out for me. For example, worry is my biggest problem because I am constantly worried about many things and this is very stressful.

Mark Wolynn describes stress as a condition in which the body reacts to changes that may require some form of adjustments. Stress management is the process by which stress is brought down to manageable levels so that the body is not hampered from operating normally. According to the author, it is important to manage stress because high levels of stress can have hazardous effects on the brain and the physical body. Chronic stress that is left unmanaged for a long time can result in unbalanced emotions and goes on to hamper a person’s ability to think properly and to perform tasks effectively (Wolynn, 2017.) Chronic stress running over long periods can disrupt the functions of all systems in the body.

Stress can be caused by both internal factors as well as outside factors. Outside factors are the most common causes of stress and include pressures such as work stress, financial difficulties, family issues, work issues among many others. Internal causes of stress include; negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations, anxiety among others (Boss, Bryant, & Mancini, 2016). If left unchecked for a long time can lead to serious health issues such as increased blood pressure, stomach upsets headaches, depression, and even sexual dysfunction amongst others.

Wolynn states that stress and depression can be managed through several ways such as frequent exercises, always having a positive attitude, eating a well-balanced diet, being assertive instead of being aggressive, setting limits and learning to say no things that may create stress, having time for recreation to take one’s mind off things, having enough sleep and rest and of course seeking treatment or counseling sessions (Wolynn, 2017). These are some of the important tips for managing stress, however, the list is by no way exhaustive as there are very many things one can do to reduce their stress levels.

  1. Reflection

What I would like further information on is if trauma can be triggered in the future after it had been resolved. The reason for needing this information is to find out if children/people can fully recover from trauma. Can a child who has gone through acute trauma live a meaningful and rewarding life? What are the chances that trauma cannot get triggered in the future when the child is an adult? These are some of the fundamental issues that I would like further information on after reading Mark Wolynn’s book it didn’t start with you: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle.

What I do not agree with the author on is the assertion that all childhood traumas are inherited. Through a review of other research material on childhood trauma, I have noticed that not all childhood trauma is inherited. Some people never had an event of trauma/mental disorders in their genealogy yet their children have gone through trauma. For example, some children may have been raped, it does not mean that such a child inherited this traumatic event from her family tree. This is to say that children experience traumatic events in their lives that are not necessarily inherited from their family.

What bothers me about the content of Mark Wolynn’s book is that there many children/people who suffer from traumas that suffer from traumatic legacies inherited from their parents/family tree. What bothers me is the fact that many of these people are not even aware of the fact that their problems are inherited. I am bothered about this finding because there is not much research about inherited traumas whereas millions of people worldwide are impacted by adverse consequences of trauma. It is my wish that more research is done on this area so that people are aware of it.

  1. Application

           The information I have received from Mark Wolynn’s book is essential for my life. First, I will go back to my family tree and find how many of my ancestors suffered from PSTD. I already know that my father struggles with insomnia which I am also suffering from. I am determined to change my life by seeking medication for insomnia so that it does not evolve into bigger problems such as depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. In particular, I will become involved in rigorous physical activities so that the body is properly worked up. This is essential so that by the time I get to bed, I am can get enough rest. Secondly, I will develop a consistent sleep pattern that will strictly follow. Another important measure in dealing with my problem is to get effective relaxation therapies to get rid of my stress and worries. A relaxed mind is necessary for a good night’s sleep. Through cognitive therapy, I can identify and tackle the disturbing/unsettling thoughts that contribute to insomnia.

Less sleep in children/people result in health complications. When children do not get enough sleep, they become very tired during the daytime and do not participate in physical activities. In many homes, children have replaced physical activities with electronic devices such as phones, tablets, video games, televisions, and computers. The result is that these children are not getting enough physical exercise. Health complications can arise from this state, for example, obesity and reduced mental growth (Faught et al, 2017). According to Faught and fellow researchers, body mass may lead to reduced performance in a child. For example, an obese child may perform poorly due to psychosocial issues such as low self-esteem. Additionally, such children become less active in both social life and physical activities which may hamper their growth and development physically, and psychologically.


Children and adolescents are at the highest risk of going through a traumatic experience. The traumatic experiences that children go through have adverse consequences for their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. The book It didn’t start with you: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle.  by Mark Wolynn brings out a new perspective about childhood trauma that is not widely known. In this book, Mark Wolynn asserts that many children unknowingly inherit PSTD from their parents. Wolynn asserts that these inherited family traumas shape the lives of children mentally, physically, and behaviorally.


  • Faught, E. L., Ekwaru, J. P., Gleddie, D., Storey, K. E., Asbridge, M., & Veugelers, P. J. (2017). Post-Traumatic Stress on Adolescents: Effect of Physical Activity, Sleep And Screen Time On Academic Achievement: A Prospective Study Of Elementary School Students In Nova Scotia, Canada. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity14(1). doi: 10.1186/s12966-017-0476-0
  • Wolynn, M. (2017). It didn’t start with you: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle. Penguin.