I was reading another article where a physician claims that sexual abuse can lead to chronic illness, Fibromyalgia, chronic pain, IBS, and cancer. Dr. Larry Bergstrom, MD, Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Arizona, says that the emotional stress of sexual abuse can have physical effects on the victims that can lead to these health problems. Dr. Bergstrom claims:
“I’ve seen in my referral practice that about 75 percent of my patients who suffer from fibromyalgia have sexual abuse in their past. It’s common for victims of sexual abuse to develop problems trusting people in their lives, so they develop perfectionist personalities, which drive them to be compulsive ‘people pleasers’ and make them believe they have to do everything themselves, otherwise it won’t get done right.”
These personality traits take their toll on the patients, because they can’t do it all, and their compulsions drive extreme amounts of stress into their lives. That stress manifests itself in a wide variety of ways, from simple pain to IBS to even cancer.
Abuse victims are not the only ones who are people pleasers, have Type A personalities, and feel that they have to do everything themselves if they want something done right. In my own opinion, I feel that abuse could cause physical problems because abuse victims often keep what has happened to them bottled up inside and this can’t be good physically. I don’t think that just because someone has Fibromyalgia or another chronic illness that means they were abused. There are many things in life that can lead to physical illnesses developing – the effects of abuse just being one of them.
Any type of chronic illness is complex and what causes them to affect some people versus others will always be a mystery. Trauma, whether physical or emotional, is all hard on the body. What are your thoughts? Do you think the effects of abuse can cause physical illness later in life?