Dissociative symptoms in relation to childhood physical and sexual abuse

Am J Psychiatry. 1990 Jul;147(7):887-92. doi: 10.1176/ajp.147.7.887.


Studies have reported high rates of childhood abuse in people with psychiatric illness. This study examined whether dissociative symptoms are specific to patients with histories of abuse. Ninety-eight female psychiatric inpatients completed self-report instruments that focused on childhood history of trauma, dissociative symptoms, and psychiatric symptoms in general. Sixty-three percent of the subjects reported physical and/or sexual abuse. Eighty-three percent had dissociative symptom scores above the median score of normal adults, and 24% had scores at or above the median score of patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. Subjects with a history of childhood abuse reported higher levels of dissociative symptoms than those who did not.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / epidemiology
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / epidemiology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis