Psychobiology of Intergenerational Effects of Trauma

Evidence from Animal Studies
  • Stephen J. Suomi
  • Seymour Levine
Part of the The Plenum Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


Systematic scientific study of the effects of trauma on humans has always faced formidable methodological challenges and both ethical and practical obstacles. The most scientifically rigorous study designs—prospective longitudinal experiments, preferably double-blind in nature—are virtually nonexistent, appropriately precluded by the ethical standards of every civilized society. Instead, some reliance on retrospective data inevitably occurs, at least for part of the period under study (e.g., the time prior to the beginning of the trauma). Practical considerations also hinder prospective studies of the long-term consequences of trauma, especially those that involve life-span or multigenerational perspectives. It simply takes too long for humans to grow up (and old) for such prospective longitudinal studies to be feasible in most cases. As a result, retrospective reports provide the basis for much of our current knowledge base regarding long-term consequences of trauma.


Rhesus Monkey Nonhuman Primate Maternal Behavior Prenatal Stress Maternal Separation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen J. Suomi
    • 1
  • Seymour Levine
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Comparative BiologyNational Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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