This chapter will present a developmental schema for children exposed to psychic trauma. We begin by describing our research with children who have witnessed the homicide of a parent. Our observations of the child's early efforts at trauma mastery indicate important developmental influences on behavior, cognition, and emotion. Similarities between our findings and those of other investigators enable us to present a general phenomenology of the post-traumatic syndrome in childhood. We then delineate the specific developmental characteristics of the preschool, school-age, and adolescent-age groups. Recognition of these phase-salient differences is critical for the understanding of traumatic effects on personality and the implementation of developmentally sound treatment strategies.
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