Trauma and anxiety: The cognitive approach

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Abstract

The purpose was to show how anxiety, the perception of the input and predisposing personality factors are interrelated in the generation of the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After a review of the role of each of these elements in regard to the PTSD, a new conception of anxiety, the core element of trauma, is introduced, grounded in an innovative system of meaning assessment. Two experiments are summarized demonstrating that anxiety is a pattern of meaning assignment tendencies of the individual and that changing these tendencies brings about the expected changes in the level of anxiety and of cognitive performance. The findings are applied to the treatment and prevention of the PTSD by showing how changing the meaning of specific inputs and of the relevant meaning assignment tendencies of individuals suffering from PTSD or at risk may help to reduce anxiety and increase coping abilities.

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