Next Article in Journal
Religion and Nature in a Globalizing World
Next Article in Special Issue
Spiritual Vulnerability, Spiritual Risk and Spiritual Safety—In Answer to a Question: ‘Why Is Spirituality Important within Health and Social Care?’ at the ‘Second International Spirituality in Healthcare Conference 2016—Nurturing the Spirit.’ Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin
Previous Article in Journal
Reformation Leads to Self-Reliance: The Protestantism of Transcendentalism
Previous Article in Special Issue
A Feasibility Study of Taste & See: A Church Based Programme to Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food
Article Menu
Issue 3 (March) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessConference Report
Religions 2017, 8(3), 31;

Hidden Suffering and the Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences

Poulroe, Kilkeedy, Tubber, County Clare, Ireland
Academic Editors: Fiona Timmins and Wilf McSherry
Received: 29 November 2016 / Revised: 1 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 23 February 2017
Full-Text   |   PDF [168 KB, uploaded 23 February 2017]


To understand suffering is to understand what it means to be human. Suffering focuses our attention on our vulnerability, which we would rather ignore or deny. As health care professionals (HCP) we need to be able to listen, to attune and be empathic to the suffering patient. If we act as an “enlightened witness” we provide a safe place for a suffering patient to grieve their loss and be vulnerable. This is skilled and demanding work, it is also important to tend to our own needs through a practice of self-care and reflection to prevent burn-out and compassion fatigue. The topic of adverse childhood experiences (ACE), which are common in the general population, are addressed in the second part of this paper. Their effects are profound, and increase with the degree of maltreatment. The maltreatment and suffering of these children usually remains hidden into adulthood beneath years of shame and denial. One aspect of our job in health care is to help patients acknowledge, experience, and bear the reality of life with all its pleasures and heartache. In order to do this well, we need to keep in touch with our own humanity, but also continue to take care of ourselves. View Full-Text
Keywords: suffering; meaning; healing; grieving; enlightened witness; spiritual; adverse childhood experiences; healthcare professional suffering; meaning; healing; grieving; enlightened witness; spiritual; adverse childhood experiences; healthcare professional
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Fulford, W. Hidden Suffering and the Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Religions 2017, 8, 31.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top