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The Long Term Effects of Childhood Abuse


This summer course is an Honours Class and therefore only available for students of an Honours College This Honours Class is sponsored by the Leiden University Fund (LUF).

Enrolling in this course is possible until the 15th of November, using the link at ‘registration’ during this period.


How exactly can exposure to childhood abuse and neglect enhance the risk to develop psychological difficulties that may last until adulthood? How can chronic stress during childhood influence the programming of the brain and stress systems to make individuals more vulnerable for depression and anxiety?

Each year 34 out of every 1000 children are abused or neglected in the Netherlands. This can have pervasive effects, not only during childhood, but also on the long term, which may persist long into adulthood. This Intensive Summer Honours Course invites students to reflect, from an interdisciplinary perspective, on the long-term consequences of childhood abuse and neglect. Which individuals are particularly prone to develop psychological problems are childhood maltreatment and who are more resilient in terms of these negative outcomes? What are exactly the domains of human functioning that may be affected by maltreatment? How can effects on social functioning and physical health be explained?

With an interdisciplinary team of experts we will focus on recent cognitive, neurobiological and (epi)genetic models that may explain how stressful circumstances can chronically affect the programming of stress-systems and brain functioning. At the end of the course, students will also learn more about the treatment option to reverse these long term consequences.


Meeting 1: Is childhood maltreatment (still) prevalent in the Netherlands?(guest lecture)

Meeting 2: Life exchanges with ‘experiential experts’ (documentary and workshop)

Meeting 3: Long term effects on emotional well-being (seminar, presentations).

Meeting 4: On Nature and Nurture: impact of stress on epigenetic processes (guest lecture)

Meeting 5: Impact of early life stress on the brain (excursion brain imaging lab LIBC, LUMC)

Meeting 6: Impact of early life stress on the brain (lecture)

Meeting 7: Reversing the impact of childhood abuse:
psychotherapy (lecture / workshop)

Meeting 8: Presentation Research Proposals


4 July: 9:30 – 14:00 hrs
5 & 6 July: 9:30 – 17:00 hrs
7 July: 9:30 – 16:00 hrs
8 July: 9:30 – 14:00 hrs


Faculty of Social Sciences and Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden

Assessment method

Presentations, research proposals

Maximum number of students



Enrolling in this course is possible until 15 November via this link .


Prof. B.M. Elzinga