Correlation between Childhood Abuse and Neglect, Alexithymia and Current Health Problems in College Students

Velikis, Ioannis; Anagnostopoulou, Tanya; Mastorakou, Anna; Triliva, Sofia; Gouva, Mary
July 2009
Nosileftiki;Jul2009, Vol. 48 Issue 3, p325
Academic Journal
Aim. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between physical/emotional/sexual abuse and neglect in the family of origin with the presence of alexithymia, suicidal ideation and health problems in adult life in a sample of college students. Method. The sample consisted of 352 college students from two Greek universities (Mean age 21.7 years, 70% female). The students completed a self-administered battery of questionnaires to elicit information about emotional rejection, emotional neglect, physical abuse/punishment, sexual abuse, suicidal ideation and/or suicide attempt and alexithymia (??S-20). Results. Of the sample, 12% reported sexual abuse and 37% suicidal ideation and 31% had more than two health problems. Cluster analysis was used to classify the sample in two groups: (a) subjects who reported at least one factor indicating severe family dysfunction, and (b) subjects who did not report severe family dysfunction. The first group reported more health problems and suicidal ideation, and higher scores of inability to identify feelings. Physical abuse and external orientation did not relate to poor health outcomes or suicidal ideation in adult life. Conclusions. The findings support the hypothesis that students who have experienced one or more types of abuse or neglect tend to have problems in identifying and expressing their feelings. They also present higher rates of suicidal ideation and more health problems.


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