Is this science, or a PC agenda? Problematic research on childhood maltreatment and its effects

This 2013 Wisconsin human study’s goal was to assess effects of childhood trauma using both functional MRI scans and self-reported answers to a questionnaire. The families of the study’s subjects (64 18-year-olds) had been participating with researchers, possibly as early as 1990, which was before the teenagers were born.

How could the teenagers give answers that described events that may have taken place early in their lives, before their cerebrums were developed, around age 4? Even if the subjects were old enough to remember, would they give accurate answers to statements such as:

“My parents were too drunk or high to take care of the family.

Somebody in my family hit me so hard that it left me with bruises or marks.”

knowing that affirmative answers would prompt a visit to their family from a government employee?

Although the data was presumably available, data from the teenagers’ lives in their early childhood, infancy, and before birth wasn’t used. The study design intentionally dismissed that early periods in their subjects’ lives had any bearing as to who they were at age 18, ignoring the findings of hundreds of applicable, peer-reviewed, publicly-published research.

Was this limited window due to the political incorrectness of placing importance in the development environment provided by the subjects’ mothers? The evidence was there for those willing to see.


One clue of ignored early traumatic events was provided by the lead researcher’s quote in a news article of the study:

“These kids seem to be afraid everywhere,” he says. “It’s like they’ve lost the ability to put a contextual limit on when they’re going to be afraid and when they’re not.”

This finding of “fear without context” possibly described the later-life effects of traumas that were encountered in utero and during infancy. A pregnant woman’s terror and fear can register on the fetus’ lower brain and the amygdala from the third trimester onward.

Storing a memory’s context is one of the functions that the hippocampus performs. Because the hippocampus develops later than the amygdala, though, it would be unable to provide a context for any earlier feelings and sensations such as fear and terror.

The researchers attempted to place the finding of unfocused fear into later stages of child development without doing the necessary research. They tried to force this finding into the subjects’ later development years by citing rat fear-extinction and other marginally related studies.

But citing these studies didn’t make them applicable to the current study. Cause and effect wasn’t demonstrated by noting various “is associated with” findings.


Was this science? Or was it part of furthering an agenda like protecting publicly funded jobs?

Was this study published to make a contribution to science? Were the peer reviewers even interested in advancing science?

And what about the 64 18-year-old subjects? If the lead researcher’s statement was accurate, did these teenagers receive help that addressed what they really needed?

http://www.pnas.org/content/110/47/19119.full “Childhood maltreatment is associated with altered fear circuitry and increased internalizing symptoms by late adolescence”


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