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Shame, dissociative seizures and their correlation among traumatised female Yazidi with experience of sexual violence

  • Jan Ilhan Kizilhan (a1), Florian Steger (a2) and Michael Noll-Hussong (a3)

Abstract

Background

Survivors of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captivity are at high risk of developing mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Aims

This study looks at the correlation between sexual abuse, shame, somatoform or bodily distress disorders, and dissociative seizures (psychogenic non-epileptic seizures).

Method

The psychological effects of traumatic events and dissociative seizure were assessed in Yazidi women who were held captive by ISIS in Northern Iraq between 2014 and 2018. These effects were examined comparing 64 women who were held captive and sexually abused by ISIS with 60 women suffering from PTSD who were not held captive and sexually abused by ISIS. Structured clinical-psychological interviews and established psychometric questionnaires were used to assess mental disorders especially dissociative seizures and somatoform disorders, and shame related to trauma.

Results

Women who were held captive by ISIS showed a significantly higher prevalence of dissociative seizures (43.7%; P = 0.02) and somatisation disorder (38.7%; P = 0.02), as well as depressive (75.0%; P = 0.42) and anxiety disorders (62.5%; P = 0.44), than women who were not held captive and sexually abused by ISIS. Dissociative disorders were identified in 40.6% (P = 0.36) of those female Yazidi who experienced sexual violence while being held captive.

Conclusions

Shame in connection with sexual violence seems to play an important role in negative self-perception after rape. Dissociation not only plays an important role in unprocessed childhood trauma with feelings of shame, but also in more recent trauma experiences with shame.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Jan Ilhan Kizilhan. Email: jan.kizilhan@dhbw-vs.de

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest None.

Footnotes

References

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Keywords

Shame, dissociative seizures and their correlation among traumatised female Yazidi with experience of sexual violence

  • Jan Ilhan Kizilhan (a1), Florian Steger (a2) and Michael Noll-Hussong (a3)

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Shame, dissociative seizures and their correlation among traumatised female Yazidi with experience of sexual violence

  • Jan Ilhan Kizilhan (a1), Florian Steger (a2) and Michael Noll-Hussong (a3)
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