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How Child Abuse Trauma Affects the Development of Dissociative Disorders?

Dr. M. A. Awab Sarwar

2 min read

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Dissociative disorder is a personality disorder that occurs due to childhood trauma. The sense of self and identity is affected due to the disrupted psychological development.

The victims are subjected to several forms of mistreatment including sexual abuse. They face neglect and abuse due to which their mental health suffers. We discuss how trauma in childhood can have grave effects on a child’s behaviour and why they should be taken to a mental health specialist as soon as that happens.

What is dissociative disorder?

Prevalent in people of all ethnicities and tax brackets, dissociative disorders occur when people develop multiple personalities as a coping mechanism. The children are subjected to severe forms of trauma and neglect, due to which they develop dissociation to survive.

It involved symptoms like memory loss, emotional detachment, dissociation from the reality, and lack of sense of oneself. The patients also have anxiety, depression and many times, suicidal thoughts. They also have increased susceptibility towards physical illnesses as well.

It was previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, as the child develops multiple personalities depending on the situation experienced. This occurs in face of the extreme levels of trauma endured, both mental and physical.

What is its connection with child abuse and trauma?

Whilst many argue over the connection between child abuse trauma and dissociative disorder, there has been a significant link found between the two. Dissociative disorders have the highest child abuse frequency compared to all other psychiatric disorders.

Cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect have been found in almost 90% of the patients, forming an undeniable link between childhood abuse and dissociative disorders. Usually, the patients have repeated exposure to abuse, however, one overwhelmingly severe episode like military combat, torture too can positively lead to the disorder.

Why does the disorder develop?

The children use dissociation as a coping mechanism to the trauma and abuse being witnessed. The patients generally are helpless in the face of the abuse so instead space out or go in a state of trance to protect themselves from the pain.

This helps them disconnect from the reality, and they perceive it as some parallel reality that is not happening to them. This memory gap then helps them survive the abuse and neglect.

As the abuse becomes more severe, so does the dissociation, ultimately affecting the functionality of the person. Overtime, the children become conditioned to produce such response to the situations in which they feel threatened.And so in situations in which they experience anxiety, they produce such a response even though they might not be in any danger.


How does it affect the people?

The patients of dissociative disorders are at high risk of suicide. They also tend to suffer from other mental health issues like depression, phobias, mood swings, auditory and visual hallucinations.

They are also more prone to substance abuse. They have higher tendencies of self-harm. They are much more likely to become parents themselves that abuse their children, therefore forming a vicious cycle.

It is very important to provide help to the patients of dissociative disorders to end the atrocious cycle of abuse. Treatments for dissociative disorders are harder to find than the rest and are more rigorous.

Therefore, it is very important to seek help of a qualified individual. Book an appointment with a top psychiatrist in Karachi, Multan and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. M. A. Awab Sarwar - Author Dr. M. A. Awab Sarwar is among the Best Psychiatrists in Lahore. I am A Psychiatrist with Special Interest In Child Psychiatry Including ADHD, Tics, Childhood Anxiety & Depression, Developmental Disorders and Emotional, conduct & Behavioural Disorders In Children. I Specialize In Adult Anxiety & Mood Disorders, Eating Disorders, Sleep & Sexual Disorders, Personality Disorders, Psychoses, Dissociative Disorder, Addictions, Epilepsy And Dementia.
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