Date of Award
Childhood sexual abuse (CSA), particularly incest, is an unbearable and devastating violation of the human condition. When the body perceives a threat, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis is activated in which neurons in the paraventricular nucleus (in the hypothalamus) synthesize and secrete corticotropin releasing hormone and arginine vasopressin. Dissociative responses, a direct result of trauma, occur when the limbic system causes a reduction in the right lateral hemisphere’s emotional processing center of the brain resulting from a surge of endogenous opiates by the HPA axis and subsequent serotonin (5-HT) dysregulation. This thesis explores how eating disorder symptoms, in large, seem to be a way to cope with and desperately try to prevent re-experiencing symptoms that are characteristic of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Purging behavior in particular, tends to be utilized as tension-reduction behavior as it causes an increase in endogenous opiates that mimics and instigates a dissociative response.
Rohrbacher, MacKenzie, "The Psychological and Neurologic Reenactment of Incest Trauma Through Anorexia Nervosa" (2020). Senior Theses. 1455.
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