Spanking is Associated With Mental Illness


Canadian researchers, publishing today in the journal Pediatrics, find that physical punishment such as spanking is associated with an increased risk of mental disorders. Acknowledging that the study could not prove a causal link, study author Tracie Afifi asserted that the statistical relationship is clear. Though legal in the U.S. and Canada, spanking has been outlawed in more than 30 countries.

Article → 

Related Items:
Can spanking cause mental illness?
Study: Spanking may increase risk of mental illness
Being spanked in childhood linked with adult mental illness, study suggests
Study links physical punishment to later mental disorders
Hitting, slapping tied to later mental disorders
Study shows spanking boosts odds of mental illness
Spanking Batters Kids’ Mental Health: Study
Being Hit As a Child Linked To Adult Mental Illness


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

Previous articleGlaxo to Pay $3 Billion for
Unapproved Marketing of Paxil & Wellbutrin
Next articleHarvard Researchers Study “Intermittent Explosive Disorder” (IED); Aggression in Adolescents
Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]


  1. “Physical punishment was defined as pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting…”

    Yet the title is Spanking? Pushing, grabbing, shoving and slapping are not spanking. I’m not sure “hitting” is spanking. I’d need to see a more specific definition.

    I guess they wanted a headline to generate interest. We’re about two years away from ‘World Spank Out Day’

    • I agree – there is a vast difference between spanking and “pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting” – I was spanked (in a legitimate fashion) but also “illegitimately” – ambushed from behind doors when I was observed misbehaving outdoors; also slapped, and even kicked – but I have to say that virtually none of that had the impact on me that the emotional abuse did.