How Do Negative Emotions Relate to Dysfunctional Posttrauma Cognitions? An Examination of Interpersonal Trauma Survivors

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Abstract

In order to broaden theoretical models of adaptation following trauma and inform current diagnostic practices, the goal of the current study was to examine associations between negative emotions and dysfunctional trauma-related cognitions. In a sample of 109 women who were seeking mental health assistance after intimate partner violence (IPV), anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt were explored in association with negative thoughts about the self, negative thoughts about the world, and self-blame. Higher levels of shame and depression were significantly associated with higher levels of negative thoughts about the self. An increased level of guilt was the only significant finding in the analysis involving negative thoughts about the world. Lower levels of depression and higher levels of shame and guilt were significantly associated with increased levels of self-blame. Anxiety did not emerge as a significant predictor in any of these analyses. Implications for current models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), revisions to diagnostic practices, and treatment of individuals who have experienced interpersonal trauma are discussed.

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