Agnieszka Wilczynska

Dubai, American University , United Arab Emirates
Title : Recognizing and Thriving Emotional Trauma


The notion of transgenerational trauma is becoming increasingly popular. In this framework, trauma is conceptualised as a process in which anxieties and pain are transmitted to descendants by the generations which were directly exposed to suffering during war or other traumatic events. The Polish scholars argue that almost the whole of  the Polish nation are traumatised as a result of the experiences of WW1 and WW2, and that our local history can indeed explain why Poles are pessimistic, have a negative mindset and do not trust others.
The main statistical tool in the study was provided by Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), specifically by its variety referred to as Path Analysis (PA), which exclusively takes into account pointer variables (without latent variables).
There were more than 300 young people from Polish schools studied regarding to psychological condotions (self-esteem, anger, sense of belonging, sense of exclusion, emapathy, ways of coping with stress). In cluster analysis one “no risk” group and three “at risk” groups were identified as:
- the Socially Included Youth
- the Invisible Kids
- the Rejected, Frozen and Needy Youth
- the “Unneedy” Loiters.

Path analysis aimed to establish what coping conditions are and what strategies are applied by young people in the “at risk” groups as listed above.
The second part of the research was an experimental longitudinal study was carried out in clinical conditions on a sample of adolescents experienced emotional trauma. Sixty F91- and F92-diagnosed teenagers were recruited to the research sample. All of them had experienced strong exclusion from their environments, first at their homes and families, and then in school and community systems.
The participants were divided into three groups (2 experimental groups & 1 control group) Each of the experimental groups had different therapeutic interventions.

Research findings implied that emotionally excluded adolescents find it challenging to learn co-feeling and care for the self and others.  The novel good emotional experiences were not registered for long in the memories of the participants. On the contrary, the experimental group subjects responded in the opposite way, as if mobilising forces to remove the new experiences the way viruses are removed from the infected body and proliferating “immunological bodies” to trigger the body’s enhanced defence reaction. Thereby, they buttressed their prior negative beliefs about themselves. The information and experiences concerning them being valuable, important and appreciated people with whom others were eager to spend their time and to whom other offered their attention were not only ignored but actually driven away with a tremendous force.


Professor Agnieszka Wilczy?ska is the lecturer at the American University in Dubai and at the WSB University in Poland. She is the author of 3 books and more than 120 articles.
Dr. Agnieszka is licensed Clinical Psychologist in UAE and she carries out regular clinical practice. She is a certified Psychotherapist of the European Association for Integrative Psychotherapy (Vienna; Austria). She is also TEDx Speaker and Visiting Professor at University of Verona, Bradford College, University of Minnesota and some others. She has founded and serves as President of the Zimbardo Youth Center, leads the Heroic Imagination Project (PL). Her work revolves mainly on the topic of the psychology of emotional exclusion, the sense of social rejection and loneliness in our societies nowadays.
Her new book ‘Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Psychology of Exclusion: From rejection to personal and social harmony’ (2020), Routledge offers insights from perspectives of psychological and biochemical research - explaining the role of the brain, mind and body in the development of a sense of belonging.