Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Childhood Abuse and Parental Acceptance-Rejection in Adolescents with Conversion Disorder

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Childhood Abuse and Parental Acceptance-Rejection in Adolescents with Conversion Disorder

Article excerpt

Conversion disorder is defined as the occurrence of deficits affecting the voluntary sensory or motor activities. These symptoms suggest neurological or organic reasons but are believed to be associated with psychological stressors (American Psychological Association, 2000). Putnam (1989) described the relation between conversion symptoms and childhood trauma. Janet (1907) thought that dissociation of sensory, cognitive and motor processes as adaptive in the context of an overwhelming traumatic experience during childhood period. Childhood trauma means child abuse that occurs during childhood period and covers many dimensions i.e, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Sexual abuse is considered under physical abuse but it has its exceptional characteristics which separate it from the rest of the types of abuses (Putnam, 1989; Roelofs, Keijsers, Hoogduin, Naring & Moene, 2002).

Giovannoni (1971) defined child abuse as an act of commission which can cause neglect or give harm and exert negative effects on a child. Child abuse is a misuse of the parental rights to discipline and control children. Whereas neglect means failure to execute duties on the part of parents to nurture, supervise and protect children.

According to National Clearinghouse on Child abuse and Neglect Information (2006), child abuse includes failure to perform any act which results in severe physical and emotional harm or even death of the child. It also includes sexual abuse. Child abuse is failing to protect a child that poses a serious harm to the physical and emotion al development of a child on the part of a parent or parents. Researchers' have time and again established the association of childhood physical and sexual abuse with a wide variety of psychological, behavioural and physical problems which continue throughout the remaining life with increased risk for anxiety, depression, personality disorders and substance abuse (Yehuda, Spertus, & Golier, 2001) as well as increased physical complaints (Moeller, Bachmann, & Moeller, 1993). It is also evident that childhood physical and sexual abuses have been associated with higher risk of exposure to further traumatic events in adulthood (Schaaf & McCanne, 1998), which are ultimately associated with the later psychopathology.

Roelofs et al. (2002) found in a study that patients with conversion disorder had dysfunctional parents and increased rate of physical as well as sexual abuse, sexual abuse for longer duration and experiences of incestuous sex. Roelofs and colleagues found the most common symptom was paralysis of muscles and the least common was disorder of eye muscles. The researchers found relationship between childhood physical and sexual abuse and dysfunctional parenting with the somatic symptoms' severity in conversion patients. Moreover, patients with more severe somatic symptoms especially with pseudo-neurological symptoms reported multiple types of childhood abuse than patients with single type of childhood abuse.

Similarly, Spertus, Yehuda, Wong, Halligan, and Seremetis (2003) explored emotional abuse and neglect in women with somatic complaints. The researchers found a significant association between childhood abuse, parental neglecting and psychological disturbances i.e., depression, anxiety and physical complaints. They also noted that women with somatic complaints had more exposure of traumas in life i.e., history of neglect and emotional abuse with the increased physical complaints, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and stress. The researchers also found that physical and sexual abuse and lifetime trauma were also significant predictors of physical and psychological symptoms. The results showed that emotional abuse and neglect predicted symptoms in these women.

The importance of different parenting styles is well established by researchers. The research points out unpleasant and unsupportive interaction between abusive parents and children (Trickett & Susman, 1988). …

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