Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Memory Problems After Female Genital Mutilation

Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:1000-1002.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Memory Problems After Female Genital Mutilation

Alice Behrendt, Dipl.-Psych.; Steffen Moritz, Ph.D.


OBJECTIVE: This pilot study investigated the mental health status of women after genital mutilation. Although experts have assumed that circumcised women are more prone to developing psychiatric illnesses than the general population, there has been little research to confirm this claim. It was predicted that female genital mutilation is associated with a high rate of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
METHOD:The psychological impact of female genital mutilation was assessed in 23 circumcised Senegalese women in Dakar. Twenty-four uncircumcised Senegalese women served as comparison subjects. A neuropsychiatric interview and further questionnaires were used to assess traumatization and psychiatric illnesses.
RESULTS: The circumcised women showed a significantly higher prevalence of PTSD (30.4%) and other psychiatric syndromes (47.9%) than the uncircumcised women. PTSD was accompanied by memory problems.
CONCLUSIONS: Within the circumcised group, a mental health problem exists that may furnish the first evidence of the severe psychological consequences of female genital mutilation.

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