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The child who cannot bear to feel

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Abstract:

Some children have such traumatic experiences that they need to defend vigorously against any thoughts or feelings which threaten to bring the painful memories back into consciousness. Repeated hurtful and traumatic experiences can affect the deeper structures of the brain, causing behaviour and learning difficulties, which are difficult to reverse. These defensive behaviours can be very hard for teachers to appreciate and cope with. Sometimes, when the threatened and feared feelings are triggered, a child's reaction can be beyond conscious control and reason, until they have calmed down. Very damaged children need emotional 'holding', as well as a facilitating environment, to be able to learn and function acceptably in school. 'The child who cannot bear to feel' looks at underlying causes, symptoms and difficulties experienced by these children, and discusses ways of reflecting on their defensive behaviours and offering emotional holding in school.

Keywords: CONTAINMENT; DEFENCES; EMOTIONAL HOLDING; REFLECTION; TRAUMA; UNPROCESSED PAIN

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1353333021000019015

Publication date: 2002-08-01

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