Psychological well-being and graphic representations of self in child victims of violence

Chiara Ionio, Eleonora Mascheroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this study, we had three aims: (a) to investigate whether child maltreatment facilitates the onset of internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS); (b) to explore through a standardized projective technique whether the image of the self in maltreated children is related to more inadequate personal resources and more archaic defense mechanisms; (c) to verify the relationship between the presence of internalizing problems, externalizing problems, PTSS, and the key elements of drawings by maltreated children. The study involved 94 children (39 maltreated children and 55 non-maltreated children) aged between 5 and 13 years. We investigated internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems using the Child behavior Check List 4–18, and we investigated PTSS using the Parent Report of Post-Traumatic Symptoms. We used the Draw-a-Child-in-the-Rain activity to investigate mental representations of the self and children's defense mechanisms. Results indicated a higher rate of internalizing and externalizing problems and of PTSS in maltreated children. Graphic representations by maltreated children differ from those by non-maltreated children in the use of color, amount of detail, and the depiction of an umbrella. Drawings seem to be valid aids for expanding knowledge of the representation of self and the psychological functioning of the child.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Behavioral problems
  • Child maltreatment
  • Drawings
  • Stress symptoms

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