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Psychological and Neurobiological Consequences of Child Abuse


Entry requirements

First-year examination in Psychology


Childhood abuse and neglect can have a pervasive impact on various domains of functioning such as the cognitive, emotional and social domains. It can also have an impact on a person’s physical health. This course focuses on the long-term consequences of the different forms of childhood abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse and emotional and physical abuse and neglect. The course examines key neurobiological models that aim to explain the processes underlying these long-lasting changes, including programming of stress-systems (i.e. HPA-axis, immune functioning) and brain functioning and epigenetics. It also covers cognitive and genetic models on risk and resilience that aim to explain individual differences with regard to the impact of childhood abuse and discusses theoretical models and the effectiveness of different forms of psychotherapy that address the cognitive and emotional consequences of childhood abuse.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Illustrate and explain the consequences of the different forms of childhood abuse within the domains of cognition, emotion, social behaviour and physical health;

  • Explain the psychological and neurobiological models that aim to explain the long-term consequences of childhood abuse and individual differences in risk and resilience; and

  • Summarize and discuss the different forms of psychotherapy that address the consequences of childhood abuse.


For the timetables of your lectures, workgroups, and exams, select your study programme.
Psychology timetables



Students need to register for lectures, workgroups and exams.
Instructions for registration in courses for the 2nd and 3rd year

For information on registration periods consult the bachelor course registration


Elective students have to enroll for each course separately. For admission requirements contact your study advisor.

Exchange/Study abroad

For admission requirements, please contact your exchange coordinator.


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date; students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

8 2-hour lectures by Professor Elzinga and guest lecturers. They outline the main concepts and theories and illustrate them using examples from clinical practice.

The material from the lectures is part of the exam literature, so attendance is highly recommended.

Assessment method

Multiple choice examination (70%) and open questions (30%).
Regulations on grade calculation.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud.



Reading list

  • Book: Perry, B. & Szalavitz & Perry. (2007). The boy who was raised as a dog. Basic Books (paperback). p 275, ISBN 978-0-476-05653.

  • Scientific and review papers (to be announced on Blackboard)

  • Lectures (sheets)

Contact information

Prof. Dr. Bernet Elzinga