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The mental health system is filled with survivors of prolonged, repeated childhood trauma. This is true even though most people who have been abused in childhood never come to psychiatric attention. To the extent that these people recover, they do so on their own.[21] While only a small minority of survivors, usually those with the most severe abuse histories, eventually become psychiatric patients, many or even most psychiatric patients are survivors of childhood abuse.[22] The data on this point are beyond contention. On careful questioning, 50-60 percent of psychiatric inpatients and 40-60 percent of outpatients report childhood histories of physical or sexual abuse or both.[23] In one study of psychiatric emergency room patients, 70 percent had abuse histories.[24] Thus abuse in childhood appears to be one of the main factors that lead a person to seek psychiatric treatment as an adult.[25]

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