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J Comp Psychol. 1991 Sep;105(3):243-52.

An evolutionary analysis of psychological pain following human (Homo sapiens) rape: IV. The effect of the nature of the sexual assault.

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Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque 87131.


Mental pain is hypothesized to manifest an adaptation for analyzing and coping with social problems that would have reduced inclusive fitness in human (Homo sapiens) evolutionary history. We examined this hypothesis in the psychological pain of 790 rape victims. Reproductive-aged and postreproductive-aged victims were more likely than prereproductive-aged victims to have experienced vaginal intercourse and to have had sperm present in the reproductive tract. As predicted, vaginal intercourse constituted the most psychologically devastating form of sexual assault for reproductive-aged women. Nonreproductive-aged victims were not more traumatized by vaginal rapes. When rapes included ejaculation in the victim's reproductive tract, reproductive-aged victims may have been more traumatized. These results suggest that the psychology that regulates mental pain processes information about the nature of the sexual act in the event of a woman's rape.

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