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The associations between adult attachment, posttraumatic symptoms, and posttraumatic growth

The associations between adult attachment, posttraumatic symptoms, and posttraumatic growth

Anxiety Stress and Coping 29(1): 1-20

Individual differences after trauma vary considerably and can range from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to posttraumatic growth (PTG). Current theoretical models cannot fully explain this variability. Therefore, we integrated attachment theory with Ehlers and Clark's model of PTSD to understand whether attachment style is associated with negative appraisals of a traumatic event(s), posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTS), and PTG. Our aim was to test this integrated model PTSD in an analog sample who had experienced at least one traumatic event. We used structural equation modeling to test the association of adult attachment and posttraumatic cognitions (self and world/others) with PTS and PTG using a cross-sectional, correlational design. The sample comprised 393 university staff and students (RangeAge= 18-49, 85% females) who completed online measures. Attachment anxiety and negative posttraumatic self-cognitions were positively associated. Negative posttraumatic self-cognitions were positively associated with PTS. Attachment anxiety had an indirect effect (via negative posttraumatic self-cognitions) on PTS, whereas attachment avoidance predicted more negative posttraumatic world cognitions and lower perceived PTG. The study highlights the importance of considering how attachment styles influence posttraumatic emotion regulation and cognitive processing of the trauma to determine posttraumatic mental health.

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Accession: 059042630

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PMID: 25616421

DOI: 10.1080/10615806.2015.1009833

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