Thursday, March 1, 2012

Irritable Bowel syndrome caused by experiencing sexual abuse in proxy

It is almost guaranteed that any sexual abuse in childhood will result in fibromyalgia. Its mechanism appears to be that the person cannot quite give up the vigilance that was first put in to place to watch for and escape the repetition of the abuse. This vigilance becomes such a character of the sexually molested person that even at night, when she is suppose to drop all her guard, curl up and sleep, she remains half awake, not allowing her muscles to enter into full relaxation and rest.  Added to this is the fight the person nightly wages against the ghosts of the past - the abuser/s - reliving the trauma and trying to get even with the perpetrators even if in dreams. This recreation of the trauma causes varying degrees of anxiety and muscle tension depending upon how abusive and painful the experiences were versus the discharge of sexual tension that occurs with the repetition of the memory.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not too far behind fibromyalgia. Sexual abuse causes this malady as well and with regular frequency. Here too the affect generated by recalling the trauma, whether done unconsciously or in sleep or dreams it does not matter, causes great degree of muscle tension and the anger against the abuser/s is discharged through excessive mucosal secretion from the intestines and the spasmodic muscle activities of the colon.

But I guess I am getting diverted from the original intent of the post which was to give a clinical account of a patient who witnessed infidelity of her mother as a child and this caused her to have the same reaction that happen in children who are sexually traumatized. Her main mode of discharge of this memory and the anger generated by it was through the symptoms of IBS.

Now in her thirties and plagued by depression, anxiety, remorse and guilt, as a child she was taken by her mother to the mall and left in department stores so she could make her escapades with her lovers. The little girl greatly resented this. However, she could not betray her mother to the father because she was taken in to confidence by the mother and the latter would beg her to not tell the father for it would lead to divorce and tear apart the family. The girl tenderly loved her father who was more than 20 years older than the mother, and was in his fifties when she was conceived. When the mother was cheating, he was in his sixties and already old, sick and dying. The girl hated the mother for her inability to restrain her need to be loved by  younger men, but was too afraid to offend her.

She was filled with revenge fantasies against the mother, which now as an adult, when activated by some triggers, caused her bowel to flare up.  To this day she cringes when her mother touches her and refuses to hug her. She remarked that he mother is cold and selfish, only into herself whose conversation is mostly about showing how she can never do no wrong, and even today when the daughter confronts her as to how she could expose her child to such depraved behavior finds excuses to escape responsibility.

 "I can hug my mother-in-law but never my mother.I hate her for what she did behind my father's back."

The mother's extra-marital affairs, which the child knew was resulting in sexual intercourse between her mother and her lovers while she was being bought off with the money to shop to her heart's content, acted as if she was getting sexually abused herself. At least that is what my analytic observations led me to conclude.   And in my mind there is little doubt that it was this sexual trauma in proxy that was resulting in her IBS.

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