Autobiographical integration of trauma memories and repressive coping predict post-traumatic stress symptoms in undergraduate students

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Abstract

What differentiates those who are able to adapt well to adverse life events (i.e., persons who are resilient) from those who are not (e.g., persons who develop post-traumatic stress symptoms)? Previous work suggests that enhanced autobiographical integration of trauma memories is associated with more severe post-traumatic stress symptoms. Extending this line of work, the present study looked at whether the integration of trauma memories, repressive coping and cognitive reactivity are related to post-traumatic stress symptomatology following negative life events among otherwise healthy young adults (N = 213). Results show that while enhanced integration of trauma memories and high levels of dissociation are related to elevated levels of post-traumatic stress, people who generally engage in repressive coping report fewer post-traumatic stress symptoms. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Practitioner Message:

• Enhanced integration of trauma memories is linked to increased post-traumatic stress.

• High levels of trait dissociation are related to elevated levels of post-traumatic stress symptomatology.

• A repressive coping style is associated with fewer post-traumatic stress symptoms.

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