Sexual abuse of girls: aspects of the genesis of mental disorders and therapeutic implications


Dr. Johannes Kinzl, Department of Psychiatry, Innsbruck University Clinics, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria


We studied the mental disorders of 33 women with a history of intrafamilial sexual abuse as a child and found a wide range of psychopathological symptoms, but no typical incest syndrome. Several psychosocial factors are presented and the psychodynamics of and the causative circumstances initiating the mental disorders are discussed. These circumstances were mainly situations of separation, which led to ego instability and gave rise to a feeling of helplessness and impotence. The necessity to take into consideration the possibility of sexual abuse during childhood in all cases of mental disorders as well as therapeutic guidelines are discussed.