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Vol. 3 No. 1 (2023): Contingency, Unpredictability and Law in Psychic and Collective Development

Prosocial Skills and Adolescents’ Response to Trauma: The Role of Social Support and Parental Behavior from a Psychoanalytic Perspective

December 26, 2022


Natural disasters have a great impact on children, often resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder. The purpose of this study is to investigate the psychological effects of a major wildfire on adolescent students. Based on Winnicott’s notion of concern, Bion’s three basic assumptions, and Hopper’s theory of incohesion in groups and group-like social systems, a conceptual framework of response to trauma was examined. Specifically, the present study investigated the role of parental behavior and social support in adolescents’ response to a traumatic event, such as a wildfire, and the corresponding level of prosocial behavior that is reported by adolescents. Data from a study designed by the Department of Child Psychiatry, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and implemented by the Hellenic Association for Analytical Group & Family Psychotherapy were used. The sample consisted of 393 students (61% girls) from elementary and secondary schools (mean age 14.3) in the vicinity of Eastern Attica, Greece, where the wildfire took place. Data was collected using the Greek version of the Parental Behavior Inventory, the Oslo 3-items social support scale, the Child Revised Impact of Events Scale-8, and the Prosocial dimension from the Greek version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Goodness-of-fit indices showed that the model was verified. Gender but not educational level differences were also identified. The results are discussed in terms of their implementation in counseling, and psychotherapy, especially in terms of adolescents’ regressive reactions after a traumatic event.