Brannan and Katie’s teacher have conferenced about Katie’s behavior many times. Brannan’s not surprised she’s picked up overreacting and yelling—you don’t have to be at the Vines residence for too long to hear Caleb hollering from his room, where he sometimes hides for 18, 20 hours at a time, and certainly not if you’re there during his nightmares, which Katie is.
This description of Katie’s behavior is a causal claim. The author describes the symptoms of Katie’s PTSD and explains that they are a direct result of the trauma of witnessing her father’s PTSD outbursts.
“She mirrors…she just mirrors” her dad’s behavior, Brannan says.
Katie’s mother’s observation is an evaluative claim. After witnessing the similarities between her husband and her child’s behaviors she has concluded that Katie is unintentionally imitating her father.
She can’t get Katie to stop picking at the sores on her legs, sores she digs into her own skin with anxious little fingers.
Describing Katie’s “anxious little fingers” and her self-inflicted leg sores as a manifestation of her PTSD is a categorical claim. They are examples her mother uses to support the diagnosis of PTSD.
She is not, according to Brannan, “a normal, carefree six-year-old.”
By stating this judgement, Brannan is making an evaluative claim. She has observed the characteristics of her daughter and has concluded that her daughter’s behaviors are atypical of other six year olds, therefore further supporting the idea that her daughter suffers from PTSD.
Different studies of the children of American World War II, Korea, and Vietnam vets with PTSD have turned up different results: “45 percent” of kids in one small study “reported significant PTSD signs”; “83 percent reported elevated hostility scores.” Other studies have found a “higher rate of psychiatric treatment”; “more dysfunctional social and emotional behavior”; “difficulties in establishing and maintaining friendships.”
The use of these statistics is a comparative claim. This is substantial evidence that a large population of war veterans’ children exhibited mental health issues or behaviors that quite possibly could stem from PTSD. The numerical data is used to create a clearer understanding of the necessity for treatment for these children.
The symptoms were similar to what those researchers had seen before, in perhaps the most analyzed and important population in the field of secondary traumatization: the children of Holocaust survivors.
The comparison of the experiences of war veterans’ children to those of Holocaust survivors is an analogy claim. By making this connection, it clarifies the similarities in the experience that the children of these two demographics have. This, in turn, highlights the strong evidence supporting that individuals who suffer from PTSD often have children that do as well.
But then in 2003, a team of Dutch and Israeli researchers meta-analyzed 31 of the papers on Holocaust survivors’ families, and concluded—to the fury of some clinicians—that when more rigorous controls were applied, there was no evidence for the intergenerational transmission of trauma.
The absolute certainty of these researcher’s conclusions is both an evaluative claim and a factual claim. While previous studies mentioned in the text did show a significant correlation between PTSD victims and the subsequent PTSD of their children, the more recent findings in 2003 determined that no substantial correlation exists. This newer research questions the validity of the previous findings and provides indisputable evidence to discredit it, thus making it both evaluative and factual.
I asked the lead scientist, Marinus van IJzendoorn of Leiden University, what might account for other studies’ finding of secondary trauma in vets’ spouses or kids. He said he’s never analyzed those studies, and wonders if the results would hold up to a meta-analysis. But: “Suppose that there is a second-generation effect in veterans, there are a few differences that are quite significant” from children of Holocaust survivors that “might account for difference in coping mechanisms and resources.”
Lead scientist, Marinus van IJzendoorn, is making a proposal claim by presenting a different perspective than that of those who generalize children of veterans and Holocaust survivors together. Although he did not do the research to confirm his proposition, he suggests that the results of the Holocaust research should not be used, as the two groups have many different variables that could have affected the study.
Holocaust survivors “had more resources and networks, wider family members and community to support them to adapt to their new circumstances after a war.” They were not, in other words, expected to man up and get over it.
This statement, comparing the degree of support received by each group, is a comparative claim. It delineates the vast differences in the support systems for each group. Furthermore, the emotionally fueled statement from Marinus van IJzendoorn that war veterans were “…expected to man up and get over it” is an ethical or moral claim. It is abundantly clear that he passionately believes that war veterans are treated unjustly.