Article Review


By Karen E. Engebretsen, Psy.D., LLC.



               Childhood Trauma and Dissociation  In Male Sex Offenders

By Joan W. Ellason and Colin A, Ross




This article explores the long neglected relationship between childhood trauma, dissociation and criminal sexual behavior. It is rare to find substantive, standardized measurements applied to this sampling data and employing this comparative study construct. 


The sample included male sex offenders with a history of childhood trauma and dissociative symptoms. A study then looked at a second group comprised of adult inpatients receiving treatment for childhood sexual trauma.


The analytic tools Ellason and Ross used included the DES, Disscociative Experience Scale as well as demographic data and individual abuse history.


What emerged from the study was the prevalence of disssociative flashbacks in subjects: the reliving of past memory as though it were real.


Therefore, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was included in the differential diagnosis. That approach yielded insights that are in keeping with the findings of earlier studies (Schneider & Irons 1996 - among others).


In clinical terms, the findings of this study underscore the importance of addressing unresolved trauma and dissociation in therapy. 


Additionally, the initial group of male sexual offenders’ trauma histories and symptom profiles would lead to the conclusion that they were in treatment for trauma that was similar and congruent with the second study category. 


The sample of this study was, admittedly, small. But the study’s early finding point out the need for similar studies using expanded samples and broader criteria.

Copyright 2000 - 2015. Karen E. Engebretsen, PsyD, LLC. all rights reserved.