Skip to main content
Log in

Einfluss früher Gewalterfahrungen von Frauen auf die Mutter-Kind-Beziehung

Daten von Heidelberger und Berliner Mutter-Kind-Dyaden

Impact of early life maltreatment of women on the mother-child relationship

Data from mother-child dyads from Heidelberg and Berlin

  • Leitthema
  • Published:
Der Nervenarzt Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Frühe Gewalterfahrungen können schwerwiegende und lang anhaltende Auswirkungen auf die direkt Betroffenen, aber auch auf die nächste Generation haben. Anhand vorliegender Daten unserer Untersuchungen von Heidelberger und Berliner Mutter-Kind-Dyaden konnten wir zeigen, dass frühe Gewalterfahrungen zu Veränderungen auf behavioraler und neuronaler Ebene einschließlich Persönlichkeitseigenschaften und Bindungsstil der betroffenen Frauen führen mit negativen Folgen für die Beziehung zu ihrem Kind. Die Kinder dieser Mütter mit frühen Gewalterfahrungen haben ein erhöhtes Risiko, misshandelt zu werden, in ihrer Entwicklung verzögert zu sein sowie eine psychische Störung zu entwickeln. Zudem zeigen sie eine erhöhte Kortisolkonzentration sowie eine geringere Inhibitionskontrolle. Dabei spielt es eine Rolle, ob die Mutter frühe Gewalterfahrungen erlebt hat, selbst aber resilient ist, d. h. (bis zum Untersuchungszeitpunkt) keine psychische Störung entwickelt hat, oder ob die Mutter zusätzlich zu den erlebten frühen Gewalterfahrungen auch eine psychische Störung entwickelt hat. Die Kinder von Müttern mit frühen Gewalterfahrungen und einer psychischen Störung scheinen besonders großem Stress ausgesetzt zu sein und weisen die schwersten Beeinträchtigungen und Risiken auf. Basierend auf den vorliegenden Ergebnissen werden Implikationen für die Praxis diskutiert und eine mögliche Intervention in Form eines Elterntrainings zur Stärkung der Mentalisierungsfähigkeit dargestellt.


Early life maltreatment can have severe and long-lasting consequences for the directly affected individual as well as for the next generation. Data from our research including mother-child dyads from Heidelberg and Berlin show that early life maltreatment is associated with behavioral and neural changes including personality traits and attachment style of the affected mothers that negatively affect their relationship with their child. The children of these mothers affected by early life maltreatment have an elevated risk to be maltreated and to develop mental disorders. They also show a heightened cortisol concentration and a reduced inhibition control. It seems to be of importance whether the mother has experienced early life maltreatment but is resilient, meaning that she has not developed a mental disorder (up to the time of examination) or whether in addition to the early life maltreatment she has developed a mental disorder later in life. Children of mothers with early life maltreatment and a lifetime mental disorder seem to be especially exposed to stress and show the greatest impairments and risks. Based on the existing data from our research practical and clinical implications are discussed and one possible intervention in the form of a training of mentalization competencies for parents is presented.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.


  1. Afifi TO, Macmillan HL (2011) Resilience following child maltreatment: A review of protective factors. Can J Psychiatry 56:266–272

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Batten SV, Aslan M, Maciejewski PK et al (2004) Childhood maltreatment as a risk factor for adult cardiovascular disease and depression. J Clin Psychiatry 65:249–254

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bernard K, Frost A, Bennett CB et al (2017) Maltreatment and diurnal cortisol regulation: a meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology 78:57–67

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Biringen Z, Easterbrooks MA (2012) Emotional availability: Concept, research, and window on developmental psychopathology. Dev Psychopathol 24:1–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bödeker K, Fuchs A, Führer D et al (2018) Impact of maternal early life maltreatment and maternal history of depression on child psychopathology: mediating role of maternal sensitivity? Child Psychiatry Hum Dev.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Butchart A, Mikton C, Dahlberg LL, Krug EG (2015) Global status report on violence prevention 2014. Inj Prev 21(3):213.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. Collishaw S, Pickles A, Messer J et al (2007) Resilience to adult psychopathology following childhood maltreatment: Evidence from a community sample. Child Abuse Negl 31:211–229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Dittrich K, Boedeker K, Kluczniok D et al (2018) Child abuse potential in mothers with early life maltreatment, borderline personality disorder and depression. J Psychiatry 213(1):412–418.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Feldman R (2015) The adaptive human parental brain: implications for children’s social development. Trends Neurosci 38:387–399

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Fonagy P, Sleed M, Baradon T (2016) Randomized Controlled Trial of Parent-Infant Psychotherapy for Parents with Mental Health Problems and Young Infants. Infant Ment Health J 37:97–114

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Fuchs A, Fuhrer D, Bierbaum AL et al (2016) Transgenerational Effects on Child Inhibition: The Role of Maternal History of Abuse, Depression and Impulsivity. Prax Kinderpsychol Kinderpsychiatr 65:423–440

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Fuchs A, Jaite C, Neukel C et al (2018) Link between children’s hair cortisol and psychopathology or quality of life moderated by childhood adversity risk. Psychoneuroendocrinology 90:52–60

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Fuchs A, Möhler E, Resch F et al (2015) Impact of a maternal history of childhood abuse on the development of mother-infant interaction during the first year of life. Child Abuse Negl 48:179–189

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Germine L, Dunn EC, Mclaughlin KA et al (2015) Childhood adversity is associated with adult theory of mind and social affiliation, but not face processing. PLoS ONE 10:e129612

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Häuser W, Schmutzer G, Brähler E et al (2011) Misshandlungen in Kindheit und Jugend. Dtsch Arztebl 108:17

    Google Scholar 

  16. Hellhammer DH, Wüst S, Kudielka BM (2009) Salivary cortisol as a biomarker in stress research. Psychoneuroendocrinology 34:163–171

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Hillberg T, Hamilton-Giachritsis C, Dixon L (2011) Review of meta-analyses on the association between child sexual abuse and adult mental health difficulties: A systematic approach. Trauma Violence Abuse 12:38–49

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hillmann K, Neukel C, Hagemann D et al (2016) Resilience Factors in Women with Severe Early-Life Maltreatment. Psychopathology 49:261–268

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hillmann K, Neukel C, Zimmermann J et al. (in prep) Severe early life maltreatment and psychopathology affect the next generation: Alterations in cortisol awakening responses of primary school-aged children

  20. Kluczniok D, Boedeker K, Fuchs A et al (2016) Emotional availability in mother-child interaction: The effects of maternal depression in remission and additional history of childhood abuse. Depress Anxiety 33:648–657

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Locher SC, Barenblatt L, Fourie MM et al (2014) Empathy and childhood maltreatment: A mixed-methods investigation. Ann Clin Psychiatry 26:97–110

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Mccrory E, De Brito SA, Viding E (2010) Research review: the neurobiology and genetics of maltreatment and adversity. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 51:1079–1095

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Mielke EL, Neukel C, Bertsch K et al (2016) Maternal sensitivity and the empathic brain: Influences of early life maltreatment. J Psychiatr Res 77:59–66

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Neukel C, Bertsch K, Fuchs A et al (2018) The maternal brain in women with a history of early-life maltreatment: an imagination-based fMRI study of conflictual versus pleasant interactions with children. J Psychiatry Neurosci 43:273

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Neukel C, Herpertz SC, Hinid-Attar C et al (2018) Neural processing of the own child’s facial emotions in mothers with a history of early life maltreatment. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Parlar M, Frewen P, Nazarov A et al (2014) Alterations in empathic responding among women with posttraumatic stress disorder associated with childhood trauma. Brain Behav 4:381–389

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Raby KL, Lawler JM, Shlafer RJ et al (2015) The interpersonal antecedents of supportive parenting: A prospective, longitudinal study from infancy to adulthood. Dev Psychol 51:115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Schnell K, Herpertz SC (2018) Emotion Regulation and Social Cognition as Functional Targets of Mechanism-Based Psychotherapy in Major Depression With Comorbid Personality Pathology. J Pers Disord 32:12–35

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Stadler T, Kirschbaum C, Kudielka B et al (2016) Assessment of the cortisol awakening response: Expert consensus. Psychoneuroendocrinology 63:414–432

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Staufenbiel SM, Penninx BWJH, Spijker AT et al (2013) Hair cortisol, stress exposure, and mental health in humans: A systematic review. Psychoneuroendocrinology 38:1220–1235

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Volkert J, Georg A, Herpertz SC et al Bindungskompetenzen von psychisch kranken Eltern stärken: Adaptation und Pilottestung des mentalisierungsbasierten Leuchtturm-Elternprogramms. Prax Kinderpsychol Kinderpsychiatr. Im Druck

  32. Zietlow A‑L, Nonnenmacher N, Reck C et al (2017) Early life maltreatment but not lifetime depression predicts insecure attachment in women. Arch Womens Ment Health 20:477–486

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


Gefördert durch das Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF; Förderkennzeichen: 01KR1207A, 01KR1803B).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. Neukel.

Ethics declarations


C. Neukel, K. Hillmann, K. Bertsch, F. Bermpohl, D. Kluczniok, E. Möhler, C. Reck, F. Resch, M. Kaess, R. Brunner und S.C. Herpertz geben an, dass kein Interessenkonflikt besteht.

Dieser Beitrag ist zwar ein Review-Beitrag, die dargestellten Studien im Review wurden aber teilweise von den Autoren selbst durchgeführt und veröffentlicht.

Additional information

Alle Koautoren haben der finalen Version des Manuskripts zugestimmt.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Neukel, C., Hillmann, K., Bertsch, K. et al. Einfluss früher Gewalterfahrungen von Frauen auf die Mutter-Kind-Beziehung. Nervenarzt 90, 235–242 (2019).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: