Homeostasis, stress, trauma, and adaptation. A neurodevelopmental view of childhood trauma

Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 1998 Jan;7(1):33-51, viii.


All experiences change the brain, but not all experiences affect the brain equally. Because the brain is developing and organizing at such an explosive rate in the first years of life, experiences during this period have more potential to influence the brain in positive and negative ways. Traumatic events disrupt homeostasis in multiple areas of the brain that are recruited to respond to the threat. Use-dependent internalization of elements of the traumatic experience can result in the persistence of fear-related neurophysiologic patterns affecting emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and social functioning. A neurodevelopmental view of childhood trauma can help future clinical and research efforts to define and use child-specific and developmentally informed models to guide assessment, intervention, education, therapeutics, and policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Dissociative Disorders / physiopathology
  • Escape Reaction / physiology
  • Female
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology