Divorce rates are increasing, leaving more and more children having to cope with the separation of their parents. Recent research suggests that children of divorced parents experience psychological and physical symptoms more often than children of non-divorced parents. The processes that mediate the relationship between parental divorce and ill-health, however, are still elusive. The separation of or from one’s main caregivers is a major life event that can easily result in emotional (sometimes traumatic) stress as well as extreme insecurity of the child concerned and, therefore, mental and physical ill-health. Traumatic stress during childhood can enhance the risk for the development of insecure attachment styles, which are related to physical and psychological health problems. This presentation will report on studies investigating the relationship between early life adversity and ill-health while focusing on the mediating role of rejection sensitivity and resilience on the long-term consequences of parental divorce in young adults.
Violetta Schaan read psychology and neurosciences at the Universities of Luxembourg, Maastricht and California, San Francisco. Thereafter she was involved in research on social exclusion and stress as research associate at the University of Trier. She currently works as a research associate in the research unit „Self-regulation and Health“ at the University of Luxembourg, directed by Professor Claus Vögele. In her main project on „Long-term consequences of early life adversity“ (funded by the Luxemburgish Research Funds for a period of 4-years) she investigates the effects of parental separation during childhood on mental and physical health of young adults. The main focus is on the identification of risk factors that help to explain the increased vulnerability of children of divorced parents for mental disorders in adulthood. Violetta Schaan is also currently finishing her clinical training as psychological psychotherapist.