Childhood family dysfunction and associated abuse in patients with nonepileptic seizures: Towards a causal model

Peter Salmon, Suad M. Al-Marzooqi, Gus Baker, James Reilly

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    56 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objective: A history of childhood sexual abuse is thought to characterize patients with nonepileptic seizures (NES). We tested the hypotheses: 1) that history of sexual abuse is more prevalent in patients with NES than in controls with epilepsy; 2) that such abuse is associated with NES, not directly but because it is a marker of family dysfunction; and 3) that family dysfunction and abuse are, in turn, linked to NES because they increase a general tendency to somatize. Methods: We compared 81 patients with NES with 81 case-matched epilepsy patients, using questionnaires to elicit recollections of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse and family atmosphere and to quantify current somatization. Results: Although each form of abuse was more prevalent in NES patients, only child psychological abuse uniquely distinguished NES from epilepsy. However, its association with NES was explained by family dysfunction. A general tendency to somatize explained part of the relationship of abuse to NES. Conclusions: Abuse therefore seems to be a marker for aspects of family dysfunction that are associated with - and may therefore cause - somatization and, specifically, NES.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)695-700
    Number of pages6
    JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
    Volume65
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003

    Keywords

    • Abuse
    • Epilepsy
    • Family dysfunction
    • Nonepileptic seizures
    • Somatization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Applied Psychology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health

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