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Relationship Between Dissociative and Medically Unexplained Symptoms in Men and Women Reporting Childhood Sexual Abuse

Abstract

The relationship between the dissociative and somatic symptoms in a clinical sample of 216 women and 35 men survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) was examined. Symptom patterns were measured by the Dissociative Experiences Scale, the Somatization Scale of the Symptom Checklist 90-Revised (SCL-90-R), and the Hypochondriasis, Hysteria, Health Concerns, and Harris–Lingoes Somatic Complaints Scales of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. Somatization and dissociation were related, but not at a great enough magnitude to suggest that somatic symptoms as a generic category are an integral component of dissociation. With the exception of one of the measures of somatization, the SCL-90-R somatization scale, no significant differences were found between men and women CSA survivors in symptom levels. However, the relationship between somatization and dissociation was stronger in women than in men. The findings of this study should be considered preliminary and interpreted with considerable caution, since the scales used probably are of limited validity.

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Correspondence to Steven N. Gold.

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Gold, S.N., Ketchman, S.A., Zucker, I. et al. Relationship Between Dissociative and Medically Unexplained Symptoms in Men and Women Reporting Childhood Sexual Abuse. J Fam Viol 23, 569 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-008-9175-6

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Keywords

  • Child sexual abuse
  • Dissociation
  • Somatization
  • Gender