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Our Research

Intergenerational transmission of pain perception and orientation to bodily signals.

In this study, we aim to uncover the underlying mechanisms involved in intergenerational processes reflecting posttraumatic orientation to bodily signals, interoceptive awareness, and pain perception. For this purpose, we have developed a new paradigm for the assessment of embodied empathy, utilizing laboratory-based experimental research methods assessing pain perception, and dyadic synchronization in stress responses using biosensors. We now have more than 700 dyads of parents and their young adult offspring who participated in the first stage of the study utilizing self-report questionnaires, and more than 100 dyads who participated in the in-lab assessment.

From peritraumatic to posttraumatic pain in child maltreatment

This research initiative aims to provide new insights regarding the high risk of chronic pain following childhood trauma. Despite the well-established PTSD-chronic pain comorbidity, the underlying mechanisms of this link remain unclear. The first facet of this initiative focuses on an overlooked phenomenon of the trauma-pain link, by investigating the experience of pain during and immediately following child maltreatment; peritraumatic pain. Is child maltreatment painful? A recently published review conducted by our Lab demonstrates that only a handful of manuscripts explored peritraumatic pain in child maltreatment. In several few manuscripts, we have been studying peritraumatic pain in children who had been physically and sexually abused, as well as an initial exploration of intrusive pain symptoms, i.e., pain flashbacks.

Peritraumatic responses to child maltreatment: Is the fight-flight-freeze response relevant for child maltreatment?

This research project is conducted in collaborators with colleagues from Israel (Prof. Carmit Katz) and Germany (Prof. Andreas Jud and Prof. Vera Clemens), funded by the DFG. We are looking into peritraumatic responses to child maltreatment, aiming to validate a new model extending beyond the fight-flight-freeze model. This research will be conducted in youth residential cares in Israel and Germany and will involve self-report questionnaires and psychobiological assessment of stress.

Engraving trauma through the art of tattoos

Considering our growing understanding of the engravement of trauma within bodily experiences, a question arises as to whether and how may tattoos facilitate posttraumatic orientation to bodily signals. In this research, we spotlight peritraumatic pain during interpersonal trauma and acute pain during tattooing as potentially echoing each other. Through this resemblance, as well as interpersonal contexts involved, we aim to provide new insights as to the benefits of tattooing for overcoming interpersonal trauma. This study involves perceived reports of tattooed individuals, as well as ecological momentary assessment of before, during, and following tattooing.

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