Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Nursing (M.S.N.)

Department

College of Nursing

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to determine the differences in psychological distress exhibited between adult victims and non-victims of childhood sexual abuse, both of which are acting out in a self-destructive manner.

This study investigates the damaging effects that childhood sexual abuse has on its adult victims. The Brief Symptom Inventory (ESI) was used to measure current psychological symptom status and is designed to detect internal distress, often not visible externally. Childhood sexual abuse produces an hyperarousal state which overwhelms the limbic system, leading to developmental dysfunction and restricted cognition. Due to the dysfunctional development produced by childhood sexual abuse, the adaptive modes have difficulty coping with stressful situations. Internalized psychological distress results in impaired coping responses often released by the act of self-destructive behavior. This study suggests that victims of childhood sexual abuse experience more psychological distress of Interpersonal Sensitivity and Positive Symptom Distress Index than non-victims.

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