Disaster at Buffalo Creek. Children of disaster: clinical observations at Buffalo Creek

C J Newman
American Journal of Psychiatry 1976, : 306-12
Most of the 224 children who were survivor-plaintiffs of the Buffalo Creek disaster were emotionally impaired by their experiences. The major factors contributing to this impairment were the child's developmental level at the time of the flood, his perceptions of the reactions of his family, and his direct exposures to the disaster. The author focuses on children under 12, describing their responses to fantasy-eliciting techniques and their observed behavior after the flood compared with developmental norms for their age and reports of their previous behavior. These children share a modified sense of reality, increased vulnerability to future stresses, altered senses of the power of the self, and early awareness of fragmentation and death. These factors could lead to "after-trauma" in later life if they cannot make the necessary adaptations and/or do not receive special help to deal with the traumas.

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