Is Your History of Childhood Abuse and Trauma Making You Sick?

A patient shared with me her concerns about developing Autoimmune Disease. She already had been diagnosed with Autoimmune Thyroiditis, and she was starting to manifest joint pain, stiffness and swelling that could signal rheumatoid arthritis. Her physical symptoms made it hard to cope with her psychological symptoms. She was suffering from severe depression that came from a history of childhood trauma.

In traditional medicine, the healing encounter starts with the recording of the medical history. Since medical visits are problem focused, the history is directed towards the timing of the problem. It is interesting in modern healthcare that we gather information on the past medical history but rarely do we look any deeper than that. I ask about family history, which tells us about genetic predisposition for disease.

I asked my patient if we could review her Adverse Childhood Experiences questionnaire to quantify her traumatic experience and determine her risk of developing disease.

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The healing encounter of a Reiki session may involve some history gathering, but usually the focus is on delivering healing energy. When I’m working with Reiki clients, information about the past often plays a role in the client’s current issues.

I’ve had many patients ask why I have interest in their past history, and if it has any relationship to why they are in my office . It seems that an illness that has resolved two or three decades ago should not impact a person’s health later. Beyond that, patients may wonder why I may ask about experiences in childhood, as on the surface, there should be no relationship to issues as an adult.

What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Adverse Childhood Experiences are clinically validated experiences that have been shown to increase the chance of illness in adults. Childhood traumatic stress increased the likelihood of hospitalization with a diagnosed autoimmune disease decades into adulthood. In this study, the majority of individuals with at least one Adverse Childhood Event  were hospitalized with an autoimmune disease (1)

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Reiki healers often confront past trauma and its result on the clients well-being. Inner Child work involves working  the client in the version of themselves that was a child that suffered childhood trauma. The client must first be brought into a deeply relaxed state through some sort of regressive therapy. The client is then asked to recall the emotion or feeling they are having now that is causing the most suffering. The client then explores if they have had this feeling before. It is during this time that the client will self identify the age at which the trauma occurred. The “Inner Child” is thought to be the age at which the person suffers a major trauma that creates energetic and emotional scars. The “Inner Child” is a subconscious precept the client holds that often reawakens as an adult, expressing strong emotions in any life event that is similar to the original trauma. The Reiki practitioner then begins to work with the Inner Child, to help heal those  wounds and make the child feel safe.

This is a powerful healing technique, and can be quite uncomfortable. Bringing in the Inner Child often brings up very painful childhood memories. This process is almost like a surgical healing. It is likely to be painful, but working with the Inner Child can often bring about deep, lasting healing for the client. Clients that receive Inner Child healing often leave the encounter with a deep understanding of who they are as a person. 

The connection between childhood trauma and current medical illnesses complex. There are two general examples we can use to explore this topic.

The following examples are fictional.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a complex digestive disorder that leads to many symptoms. . Many individuals living with IBS often don’t realize they are also having emotional distress that often accompany the digestive issues. Many of my patients with IBS first began having digestive symptoms in childhood. If the patient developed negative feelings towards school for example, it was likely not  acceptable to ask the parents to miss school because they were being bullied. It would be acceptable to ask to stay home because of a stomach ache. Over the years, subconsciously the person may learn that having a stomach ache can often help to avoid unpleasant experiences. Gradually, the brain begins to make a neural connection with stress avoidance and digestive symptoms. The cycle perpetuates itself, eventually manifesting as severe digestive disease.


Another example, SLE, so Systemic Erythematous Lupus may develop its roots in a person who suffered through multiple childhood traumas. A middle-aged female patient may present with lupus complicated by kidney disease, pulmonary disease, and digestive issues. She may relate to her physician that she had a tumultuous childhood including multiple stays in various foster homes. The relationship here maybe that because she did not feel rooted as a child, she has a poorly energized root chakra. As an adult, her root chakra which is the basis of the immune system never learns to work very well. She develops an immune system that is highly overactive and attacks her own body tissues. The end result is a severe autoimmune disease.

Reincarnation, which is the process of returning to Earth multiple times in various forms, is thought to possibly lead to illness in the current life. Similar to Inner Child work, it is possible to use regression therapy to go back to past lives for healing. This can be very difficult and likely will require multiple sessions between a client and healer that have a trusting relationship.

Childhood Abuse and Trauma Can Make You Sick, But There’s Hope

Acknowledging this past hurts and traumas is important in healing. This does not mean that there is not hope for healing in a long time. Matter of fact, the best chance for healing is acknowledging the hurts of the past. taking inventory and looking a little bit deeper than the past medical history can pay off in unimagined ways.


1.Dube, S. R., Fairweather, D., Pearson, W. S., Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., & Croft, J. B. (2009). Cumulative childhood stress and autoimmune diseases in adults. Psychosomatic medicine, 71(2), 243–250.

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