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Alterations in empathic responding among women with posttraumatic stress disorder associated with childhood trauma
Article first published online: 13 MAR 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Brain and Behavior
Volume 4, Issue 3, pages 381–389, May 2014
How to Cite
Parlar, M., Frewen, P., Nazarov, A., Oremus, C., MacQueen, G., Lanius, R. and McKinnon, M. C. (2014), Alterations in empathic responding among women with posttraumatic stress disorder associated with childhood trauma. Brain and Behavior, 4: 381–389. doi: 10.1002/brb3.215
- Issue published online: 14 MAY 2014
- Article first published online: 13 MAR 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 16 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 11 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Received: 3 JUL 2013
- Ontario Mental Health Foundation
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research
- National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders
- Adult survivors of child abuse;
- stress disorders
Although studies increasingly point toward problems with social cognition among individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), few studies have assessed empathic responding. The aim of the current study was to investigate empathic responding in women with PTSD related to childhood trauma, and the contribution of parental bonding to empathic abilities in this sample.
Participants with PTSD (n = 29) and sex- and age-matched healthy controls (n = 20) completed two self-report empathy measures, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ), and a self-report measure of attachment, the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI).
Women with PTSD, relative to controls, reported significantly lower levels of empathic concern (r = 0.29) and perspective taking (r = 0.30), yet significantly higher levels of personal distress (r = 0.45) on the IRI. Women with PTSD also reported elevated scores on the TEQ (η2 = 0.13). Levels of paternal care on the PBI, rather than childhood trauma severity or PTSD symptom severity best predicted perspective taking scores on the IRI in the PTSD sample (R2 = 0.20).
Women with PTSD associated with childhood trauma reported alterations among different domains of empathic functioning that may be related to low levels of paternal care.