Investigating the Relationship Between Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Posttraumatic Growth Following Community Violence: The Role of Anger

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Abstract

Objective: Past research has revealed that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by disturbances in emotional reactivity, including anger reactions. In turn, posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and anger reactions have been shown to be independently associated with posttraumatic growth (PTG). As such, anger reactions may serve as a pathway of influence through which PTSS lead to PTG in trauma-exposed adults. Method: The current study examined cross-sectional relationships among PTSS, anger reactions, and PTG in 318 participants who were exposed to the violent political protests in Ferguson, Missouri after the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown. Specifically, anger reactions were examined as a pathway of influence through which PTSS contribute to PTG. Results: PTSS positively predicted anger reactions and PTG. Further anger reactions were associated with PTG. Anger reactions were found to partially account for the relationship between PTSS and PTG; thus, PTSS affect PTG, in part, through anger reactions to traumatic events. Conclusion: These results indicate a more direct role of anger reactions in facilitating growth after the associated distress of community violence. On the basis of these findings, anger may be useful in galvanizing individuals to make positive change after traumatic events.

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