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Keywords:

  • PTSD;
  • schemas;
  • narrative;
  • disorders of extreme stress;
  • meaning

Abstract

The role of modifying schemas in trauma-focused psychotherapy has received theoretical and clinical attention. However, the relationship of schematic processing to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis has not been examined empirically. The current study compared measures of thematic disruption among individuals with PTSD alone, PTSD with concurrent complex PTSD, and no PTSD. Eighty two participants were interviewed to assess PTSD status, complex PTSD status, traumatic life events, and trauma-related thematic processing. Results indicated that variables quantifying thematic disruption and thematic resolution significantly distinguished those individuals with concurrent PTSD plus complex PTSD from the other two groups. Exploratory analyses indicated that PTSD symptom severity and the interpersonal nature of the trauma were related to thematic disruption.