Mental Strategies as Mediators of the Link Between Attachment and PTSD

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Abstract

The authors analyzed the relationship between attachment dimensions (avoidance and anxiety) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms through the mediation of the mental strategies organization, that is, behavioral and intrapsychic strategies used to cope with traumatic events and symptoms, among a sample of war veterans. Sample was composed of Portuguese war veterans (N = 60): 30 veterans suffered from chronic PTSD (nonrecovered) and 30 veterans had remission from PTSD (recovered). Assessment of mental strategies was retrieved from 1 interview assessed by 3 judges, and attachment patterns and PTSD symptoms were assessed through self-report measures. Path coefficients of direct and total effects were estimated. Results showed lower mental strategies organization and higher attachment anxiety among nonrecovered participants. Indirect effect of attachment anxiety on PTSD symptoms through mental strategies was significant when no variable was entered as covariate. Indirect effect of attachment avoidance on PTSD symptoms through mental strategies organization was not significant. The authors discussed that the development of more mature mental strategies play a central role in working with veterans to cope with posttraumatic symptoms.

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