UBC Theses and Dissertations
The effect of cognitive and affective processes on trauma-related distress Wojcik, Katharine Deven
The overall purpose of this dissertation was to examine the effects of cognitive (e.g., maladaptive schemas, cognitive fusion, interpersonal difficulties) and affective (e.g., posttraumatic shame, self-blame, and guilt) processes on trauma-related psychopathology, specifically posttraumatic stress disorder. Implications for this line of research are to further understand the nuances of cognitive and affective processes on people (both civilians and veterans) who have experienced traumatic events. The primary purpose of Study 1 was to understand the impact of interpersonal difficulties on shame- and guilt-proneness following adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in a community sample. Results indicated that interpersonal difficulties, related to increased cognitive and affective sensitivity, was a strong mediator of both shame and guilt-proneness. The primary purpose of Study 2 aimed to examine effects of posttraumatic negative self-appraisals (shame and self-blame) on the association between maladaptive schemas and PTSD symptom severity in a civilian population. Results indicated that posttraumatic shame mediated the association between maladaptive schemas and PTSD symptom severity, over and above posttraumatic self-blame. Additionally, maladaptive schemas of disconnection & rejection and impaired autonomy & performance were specifically mediated by posttraumatic shame. Based on Studies 1 and 2, we observed that more rigid and chronic maladaptive cognitive and affective processes are more impairing for people following traumatic experiences. Thus, the purpose of Study 3 was to examine (a) the longitudinal change factors impacting PTSD and depression symptom change in a sample of Canadian veterans and (b) the moderating effects of cognitive fusion on PTSD and depression symptom change over the course of treatment. Results indicated that depression symptoms predict changes in PTSD symptoms during treatment; however, cognitive fusion did not. It was additionally found that PTSD and depression symptoms predicted change in cognitive fusion. This may indicate that strong trauma and depression related beliefs may impede cognitive defusion during treatment. Combined, these investigations further our understanding of how cognitive and affective processes are influenced by, impact, and predict trauma-related symptomatology following traumatic experiences across the lifespan.
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