Jaycee May Never Recover

Overcoming lost years will be a huge challenge, mental health experts say
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2009 12:57 PM CDT
A tent and shacks are shown in the backyards of a home in Antioch, Calif., Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, where authorities say kidnapped victim Jaycee Lee Dugard lived.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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(Newser) – It will be a struggle for Jaycee Lee Dugard and her two daughters to recover from the years they spent in captivity, writes Karen Kaplan in the LA Times. Psychologists have few comparable cases to draw from, and those that exist are not encouraging. Kidnap victim Natascha Kampusch, of Vienna, spent ages 10 to 18 in captivity, and despite early signs of recovery, became a recluse. Elisabeth Fritzl, infamously imprisoned in a basement dungeon by her father, is said to be recovering poorly.

A 2000 study of 24 kidnapped individuals in Italy found that nearly half were diagnosed with PTSD and 38% with major depression—though the average time in captivity was just 99 days. As difficult as it will be for Jaycee to readjust, experts say, her children have an even bigger challenge—Jaycee, at least, has recollections of a normal childhood. "These children have missed normal developmental stages for their entire lives," said a George Mason University Psychologist. "It's almost like they are from another planet."