November 12, 2013

Does Child Abuse Make You Sick?

I want to share with you today this interview with Dr. Vincent Felitti by Safe Space Radio host Dr. Anne. She speaks with Dr. Felitti

"...about his groundbreaking research to show that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s, like abuse, neglect and severe family dysfunction) are correlated not only with mental illness and addiction, but also with physical illnesses like heart disease, lung disease and even auto-immune diseases.  He reports that just asking patients about the presence of such painful experiences results in fewer medical emergencies and need for extra doctors visits.   Over 17,000 patients were part of a study, showing that the prevalence of ACE’s is terribly high (28% of children experience harsh physical abuse like beatings, and 22% suffer sexual abuse, 16% of boys, and 28% of girls).  He reports that despite these findings about the frequency of child abuse, and the relationship to adult health, many doctors are still very reluctant to ask about it, or to include it in how they think about their patients.  This is especially sad given that the simple act of asking one follow up question about how the abuse is affecting them now, reduces the need for medical care (not to mention the cost!) even further…"

You may have heard much talk recently about how childhood abuse "changes your DNA" -- well, that's not exactly right.

In fact, Dr. Felitti is one of the key researchers and contributors to the the studies that are being referenced when people make these statements, and I had the great pleasure of speaking with Dr. Felitti as well recently.

He explained that the situation is more nuanced than one might think. Child abuse, like any other trauma, can cause an already encoded DNA strand to "present or turn on." The actual structure and material of your DNA doesn't change. It's more like whether the switch is turned on or not.

I think this distinction is important in understanding the overall impact of abuse and certainly for thinking about what our options for recovery are.

Listen now to this interview to learn more!

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