ACE Study Impacts The Physical Mind And Body


ACE Study Impacts The Physical Mind And Body

Alarming Somatic Response To A Trigger
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It is crucial that the world understand just how traumatic experiences affect the mind and body.  These are in very real physical ways.  While many recognize this, many have not arrived at these conclusions.  This  Ace Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences study) provides hard science to help realize the importance of childhood trauma.

Consequently, if anyone has been through trauma, he or she most likely understand this study from a broad point of view.

Conducted between 1995 to 1997, The Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACE Study) had 17,000 participants.

In this study, each participant completed a confidential survey about experiences in their family during childhood.  The focus was on maltreatment and family dysfunction.  It also linked current behavior and their current health status.  The focus of this study is on the relationship of these adverse childhood experiences, health care and cause of death.

The results were then tabulated into a score, identified as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Score.  The score ranges from zero to ten.  The higher the score, the more exposure to childhood experiences that were adverse and the more likely that harmful health situations will occur.

According to this study, the prevalence of emotional abuse was 10.6%, physical abuse was 28.3%, and sexual abuse was 20.7% with women scoring higher on all three types of abuse.  In the case of sexual abuse, the prevalence in men was 16% versus women which was 24.7%.

Abuse – ACE Study   
Emotional  13.1%7.6%10.6%
 Physical 27.0% 29.9%28.3%
 Sexual  24.7%16.0%20.7%
ACE Study Source:  CDC


The ACE study measured neglect with women being slightly less on physical neglect (men = 10.7% and women = 9.2%).  As far as emotional neglect, men had a prevalence of 12.4% while women were at 16.7%.

Neglect – ACE Study
Emotional Neglect
Physical Neglect
ACE Study Source:  CDC


When it comes to household dysfunction, the top areas were household substance abuse, followed by parental separation or divorce and then household mental illness.


Emotional abuse involves the following./

  • Insulted
  • Put Down


Physical abuse involves the following.

  • Pushing
  • Grabbing
  • Slapping
  • Hitting
  • Objects thrown at an individual.


Sexual abuse includes the following.

  • Touching
  • Fondling.
  • It also includes being touched sexually.
  • Oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse.



Neglect was defined and broken down in this study as emotional or physical.  For emotional, participants were measured by how their family made them feel special or loved.  Other factors measured include whether their family was a source of strength, support, and protection.  Physical neglect involved not having enough to eat, how they were taken care of physically (i.e., clean or dirty) and if there was someone that could take them to the doctor should they need to go.

Household dysfunction involved things such as how a mother or stepmother was treated.  Also, it may have involved pushing, grabbing, slapping.  Being kicked, bitten, hit or threatened with weapons such as a knife or gun would be a part of this.  Substance abuse, mental illness such as depression and attempted suicide were also factors measured as was parental separation or divorce.  A member of the household who was incarcerated was also a focus in household dysfunction.

Through the entire study, the significant findings that adverse childhood experiences are widespread.  More than 20% had a score of three or more.

ACE Study Score
4 or more15.2%9.2%12.5%
ACE Study Source: CDC


As the ACE score increases, the child will be at higher risk of health factors from substance abuse, depression, suicide, and a health-related quality of life to severe health conditions like COPD, liver disease, and sexually transmitted diseases.  As the score increases so do the risk for intimate partner violence, unintended pregnancies, and adolescent pregnancy.

Health Risks
 (as ACE increases)
Alcohol Abuse
Multiple Sexual Partners
COPDSexually Transmitted Diseases
Fetal DeathSuicide
Health-Related Quality Of LifeUnintended Pregnancies
Illicit Drug UseEarly Smoking
Ischemic Heart DiseaseEarly Sexual Activity
Liver DiseaseAdolescent Pregnancy
Intimate Partner Violence
 ACE Study Source:  CDC


At this time, other countries are attempting to replicate the results of this study.  Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 1998 (volume 14, pages 245 – 248).

For more information, see the research study website or read all about the ACE study at the CDC (Centers For Disease Control And Prevention)

To determine the ACE score, use the ACE Score Calculator.


Thoughts On The Ace Study

In conclusion, it is helpful to see the ACE study because it is about somatization.  It is the physical way we manifest experiences, stress, and trauma in life.  This study gives strong credibility to this.  Hopefully, the medical and healing world will begin to make this connection more and more.  Faced in life with health challenges, somatization exists.  Furthermore, the somatic component follows the emotional experiences.  These are ones that we have encountered in our past or display as current health conditions.

Regardless of how we look at this, the far-reaching effects of the ACE study go beyond the current analysis. It is not just adverse childhood experiences that affect us somatically.  It includes all the experiences that we face each day in our life.  Of course, the higher our ACE score is, the more these will impact life’s everyday experiences.  It will add to the physical health conditions we experience.