chapter  13
11 Pages

Body shame and abuse in childhood


Many contributors to this volume address the issue of body shame arising from physical traumas, various diseases and disfigurements. However, body shame can have a variety of psychological causes where there may be no disorder of the body. This chapter explores the relationship of physical and sexual abuse to body shame and disturbances in body schema. There is increasing evidence that body shame, rooted in abusive experiences, is significantly related to vulnerability to psychopathology and chronicity. Abuse not only provides powerful emotional experiences of how one’s body is perceived and treated by the other (e.g., as an object of sexual gratification, or a focus for physical harm), but also provides powerful experiences for developing internal schema of one’s body (i.e., how one experiences and feels about one’s body).