Maternal Trauma and Related Psychopathology: Consequences to Parental Brain Functioning Associated with Caregiving

  • Virginie C. Perizzolo Pointet
  • Dominik A. Moser
  • Francesca Suardi
  • Molly Rothenberg
  • Sandra Rusconi Serpa
  • Daniel S. SchechterEmail author
Part of the Integrating Psychiatry and Primary Care book series (IPPC)


The chapter takes as its departure point the Winnicottian notion of “Good-enough mothering” as being tied to the capacity of the primary caregiver to engage in mutual emotion regulation during sensitive periods of early development. Maternal experience of interpersonal violence and related psychopathology (i.e. posttraumatic stress disorder) through associated emotional dysregulation and activation of traumatic memory traces even by routine mother–infant interactions (i.e. interactions such as separations involving child helplessness) perturbs this mutual regulation. Original research from the Geneva Early Childhood Stress Project is described to support that both neural activity and epigenetics of stress-linked genes are promising as (1) important markers of these hypothesized mechanisms and (2) useful measures of the effectiveness of targeted parent–child interventions. The role of individual differences played by possible endophenotypes in the intergenerational transmission of trauma and associated psychopathology, as for example that noted for mothers with prominent dissociative symptoms, is discussed with its clinical implications.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginie C. Perizzolo Pointet
    • 1
  • Dominik A. Moser
    • 2
    • 1
  • Francesca Suardi
    • 1
  • Molly Rothenberg
    • 1
  • Sandra Rusconi Serpa
    • 1
    • 3
  • Daniel S. Schechter
    • 4
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Child & Adolescent Psychiatry ServiceUniversity of Geneva HospitalsGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Faculty of Psychology and Education SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Geneva HospitalsGenevaSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of Child & Adolescent PsychiatryNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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