By Paris Ediagbonya
NUI Galway researchers are looking to evaluate the experience of emotional abuse on a person in childhood and the consequences it has on their coping mechanisms during the Covid-19 pandemic in their adult life.
This study is aimed at gaining a better understanding on how to support those who may have experienced adverse events during childhood.
Researchers of the School of Psychology at NUI Galway are looking for at least 1000 people, who are over 18, to participate in this survey.
Those who complete the short survey can enter a raffle for the chance to win a €100 One4all voucher.
The questions in the survey will explore themes concerning childhood experiences, relationship styles and current wellbeing.
Clinical Psychologist in training, Hilary Groarke says that identifying inhibitors to recovery following traumatic childhood experiences,
“It is critical that we identify factors that contribute to people’s recovery or obstacles that can block recovery following difficult childhood experiences and what empowers people to live a fulfilling life, particularly during a period of such disconnection, uncertainty and disillusionment.”
Previous research has found that those who have gone through emotional abuse as a child tend to develop coping mechanisms to ensure their safety, such as staying quiet to avoid conflict with their primary caregiver.
These experiences cause the development of an ‘over-active fear system’ in the child and this behavior results in those affected not seeking out support due to the fear, distress, or guilt, which then transfers over into adult life.
By exploring the consequences felt by those who have had adverse childhood experiences, researchers hope that this study will demonstrate results which will help with improving their understanding and enhancing the kind of support needed for those impacted.
In a peer reviewed article written in 2017, NUI Galway researchers found that the capacity to speak out about feelings may correlate with reducing the number of people reporting to their GP about their physical health.
However, researcher and Chartered Health and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Jonathan Egan stated that this would be particularly difficult to do for those who have experienced emotional abuse as a child,
“It is frightening for many however, to start to learn to move towards relational closeness, when staying away from it was probably a clever thing to do as a child, particularly if your careers were not in a place to be the most effective parents at the time,” he stated.
He went on to say that this impacts people more during a pandemic, where anxiety and isolation are heightened,
“In the 2017 study, those who felt less integrated and fully present had twice the levels of anxiety, depression and worries about their physical health. That was back in a time when we were not living in a pandemic. A pandemic raises all fear levels, it opens doors to the past which before we could keep closed; for many, these doors are now blown open and the nights are long, and the days are dead. There is little to distract us from aches and pains.” he added.
To participate in the study, use the following link: https://bit.ly/3tc6Cy6.