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Type D personality and posttraumatic stress disorder in victims of violence: a cross-sectional exploration

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Abstract

The current study explored the relationship between type D personality and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among victims of violence (n = 189). The basic premise underlying the type D concept is that it is not the experience of negative emotions per se that renders individuals at risk of maladjustment in the face of adversity, but the way they are dealt with. Particularly the combination of high negative affectivity and social inhibition (i.e., the non-expression of emotions and inhibition of behaviours in social interactions) is assumed to be maladaptive. It was hypothesized that a high score on negative affectivity (i.e., above a pre-determined cut-off score) would only contribute to PTSD in the presence of a high score on social inhibition (also above a pre-determined cut-off score). Univariate results indicated that type D subjects (type Ds) reported higher PTSD symptom levels than those characterized by high negative affectivity/low social inhibition or low negative affectivity. Type Ds more often suffered from probable PTSD than non-type Ds. In multivariate analyses, type D personality was associated with an increased risk of probable PTSD above and beyond background variables, while high negative affectivity/low social inhibition was not. Results were discussed in light of victim support practices and study limitations. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Practitioner Message:

• Victims of violence with type D personality are more prone to report symptom levels that indicate diagnosis of PTSD.

• Victim support interventions should be tailored to help victims with type D personality to maintain their existing social networks, for example through support groups only accessible to victims and close relatives or friends.

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