The Relationships Between Child Maltreatment and Exploratory Behavior Implications for Development.

Date of Award


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Josiah B. Dodds

First Committee Member

Harold P. Martin

Second Committee Member

Phyllis S. Kreinik


Emotional trauma; Maltreated children; Behavior/CBT


Findings from the fields of attachment theory, physiology, neurology, neurobiology and cognitive theory, when considered together, enhance understanding of the behavior and development of maltreated children. Each field describes from its own vantage how emotional trauma influences the quality and quantity of exploratory behavior. Development in many spheres is influemced by behavior. There is evidence from the field of neurobiology that experience ultimately influences the anatomy of the brain. Therefore, it can be hypothesized that constricted, overly defensive behavior in childhood ultimately compromises the development of the central nervous system itself. The altered neurobiology may help explain some of the developmental delays and failures seen in some maltreated children. Such developmental disruptions may include lowered intellectual performance, impaired ability to learn from experience, behavioral regressions under stress, and characterological abnormalities. This neurobiologic hypothesis has implications for research, intervention and training of professionals.It encourages 1) the identification of those deficit capacities most vulnerable to becoming neurologically based, 2) identification of ways to help the maltreated child explore and be accessible to developmental experiences, 3) more emphasis on the development of cognitive capacities, and 4) more breadth of training for professionals who work with maltreated children and their families.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


65 pages

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