Professor Paul Bebbington, head of the Department of Mental Health Sciences at the University College London, told the Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists 2011, that children who are abused or engage in non-consensual sexual intercourse are at a significantly increased risk for the development of schizophrenia. In a recent article, Bebbington explained that when this type of abuse is experienced before the age of 16, it contributes to more than 15 percent of all psychotic problems, including schizophrenia. “The worse the abuse, the more it increases the risk of developing psychosis. Someone who has experienced non-consensual sexual intercourse before the age of 16 is 10 times more likely to develop the mental disorder,” Bebbington told the Congress. He added, “This is especially significant because sexual abuse is common in childhood. Eight in every 100 people have experienced molestation while one per cent of men and three per cent of women report having had non-consensual sexual intercourse under the age of 16. It is possible to calculate that if childhood sexual abuse ceased, there might be as much as a 17 per cent reduction in people suffering from schizophrenia.”
Bebbington was is senior author of new research which has shown that this type of abuse is linked to psychosis. The research also revealed that sexual molestation and even unwelcome sexual talk, was also linked to the development of mental health problems. Bebbington said, “The increased risk of psychosis may be linked to the intrusive nature of childhood sexual abuse and having no control over what is happening to you. It has disastrous effects on self-esteem and psychological well-being, and is linked to paranoia and suspiciousness – even in people who don’t go on to develop psychosis.” Bebbington added that services should be made available to all victims of this type of abuse in order to prevent the mental health problems associated with these traumas from developing.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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