Pathways from child sexual abuse to adult depression: the role of parental socialization of emotions and alexithymia

 

Author(s) Renu, Thomas, David DiLillo, Kate Walsh and Melissa A. Polusny
Title Pathways from child sexual abuse to adult depression: the role of parental socialization of emotions and alexithymia
Source Psychology of Violence,2011, Vol. 1, Number 2, pp 121-135
Date 2011
Document type Journal article
Coverage United States
Summary The aim of this study was to identify mechanisms that may affect risk for depression in women reporting sexual abuse as a child. The study first examined alexithymia as a mediator accounting for the relation between CSA and depression in adulthood. The researchers then examined whether the alexithymia reported by the CSA survivors was accounted for by their perceptions of parental emotion socialisation within their families. Participants in the study were 110 adult females receiving health care within a large metropolitan Veterans Affairs medical centre and of these, 52 women reported CSA. It was found that alexithymia may be one factor that accounts for increased depressive symptoms experienced by women with a history of sexual abuse. The results indicated that survivors of CSA learn to repeatedly avoid or suppress their intense emotional arousal and although avoidance may offer temporary escape, chronic avoidance may disrupt emotional processing of abuse experiences. An unexpected finding was that CSA severity was unrelated to survivors' perceptions of negative emotion socialisation by their parents.
Keywords Child sexual abuse; CSA; adult depression; emotional socialisation; alexithymia
Topic Sexual assault