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New Content Added: To update the content we have added Domestic Violence information found at the end of the Table of Contents.
On this track, we will be discussing unexplained physical symptoms that battered women often report experiencing.
Here is how I worked through a possible Somatoform Disorder with Jessica. Jessica, a 22-year-old student in her final year of college, first came to me with a stutter she had been experiencing for two days. In her Tuesday Women's Issues class, each student had to speak on the topic of sexual molestation. Jessica stated, "When it was my turn to talk, I had such a pr-pr-pro-pro-difficult time talking I had to give up." It appeared Jessica had substituted the word difficult for the word problem to stop the stuttering. In addition to the onset of her stuttering, Jessica had also been suffering from severe stomach aches for several months. After several trips to the hospital, MRIs and extensive tests Jessica was told there was nothing physically wrong with her.
I felt Jessica's stuttering may have had an antecedent of abuse. As you know, for many battered women, these physical problems occur automatically on a physiological level without any trace of consciousness. In fact, it is almost impossible for these women to connect their physical symptoms with their emotions about their abuse. As with Jessica, the origin of the physical symptoms was thoroughly masked in her subconscious.
Step #1. For me, as is the case probably
for you, the first step is to look at the battered woman's symptoms contextually.
Jessica stated, "About two months ago my boyfriend Eric and I started to
a-a-argue a lot, and he got r-r-r-really mean."
Why is it some battered clients develop a Somatoform Disorder and others do not? What are the Risk Factors that may predispose a client of yours to this disorder?
6 Risk Factors
Risk Behavior #1 - Compartmentalization
Risk Behavior #2 - Repression
#3 - Deadening
#4 - Resigning
Risk Behavior #5 - Projection
#6 - Externalization
Have you overlooked Somatoform regarding your battered client who is contemplating leaving. If so, you might replay this track to rethink the risk factors of compartmentalization -- repression, deadening, resigning, projection, and externalization -- to set therapy goals for your next session that may assist them in weighing and measuring leaving.
risk behavior can be exacerbated by the battered woman assuming the role of the
Irresponsible Child where she seeks comfort by being treated as the underdog.
This Underdog syndrome will be discussed on the next track.
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