Pervasive loss of function in asylum-seeking children in Sweden

Acta Paediatr. 2005 Dec;94(12):1706-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2005.tb01841.x.


Presently, a couple of hundred children from traumatized asylum-seeking families in Sweden have developed severe loss of mental and physical functions without evidence of underlying disease. Of the 23 treated children treated at this clinic, 15 have recovered, three are improving and five are under initial care. Communication within the family is crucial from both pathogenic and salutogenic perspectives. A permanent residence permit, correcting the underlying situation of threat and insecurity, is a condition for good results from psychiatric treatment. In Sweden there is a lack of consensus and conflicting political and medical perspectives prevail regarding the "apathetic" children.

Conclusion: Children living under unbearable life conditions can develop life-threatening depression-withdrawal stress reactions well known as pervasive refusal syndrome (PRS). This is also true of children in traumatized asylum-seeking families. Excellent results are achieved when the family's underlying fear and hopelessness can be erased and the treatment focuses on the traumatic experiences.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology*
  • Child Welfare
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Sweden