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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).
This study looks at the correlation between sexual abuse, shame, somatoform or bodily distress disorders, and dissociative seizures (psychogenic non-epileptic seizures).
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.
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.
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.
Former child soldiers are at high risk of developing mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, their comprehensive mental health has yet to be examined.
This study looks at the prevalence of PTSD, depression and associated risk factors such as disturbed self-esteem among former child soldiers of the so-called ‘Islamic State’.
The psychological effect of traumatic events was assessed in 81 Yazidi children who had been child soldiers for the Islamic State in northern Iraq between 2014 and 2017 for at least 6 months. The children were between 8 and 14 years of age. Thirty-two Yazidi boys and 31 Muslim boys who were not child soldiers in Iraq served as control groups. A structured psychological interview and established psychometric questionnaires were used to assess traumatisation and mental disorders.
The child soldiers showed a significantly higher prevalence of PTSD (48.3%), depressive disorders (45.6%), anxiety disorders (45.8%) and somatic disturbances (50.6%) than the boys who had not been child soldiers. Developmentally crucial self-esteem was significantly reduced in former child soldiers. No significant differences between the two control groups could be found.
PTSD and other mental disorders are highly present among former child soldiers in northern Iraq. The study highlights the huge and as yet unmet need for psychological services among former child soldiers.
Declaration of interest
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