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Keywords:

  • posttraumatic stress disorder;
  • emotional numbing;
  • parent–child relationship;
  • interpersonal problems

Abstract

Despite growing recognition of substantial interpersonal impairment among many war-zone veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), little is known about the association between PTSD symptomatology and veterans' relationships with their children. This study examined the differential pattern of associations between the symptom clusters of PTSD and the perceived father–child relationships of 66 male Vietnam veterans. Analyses revealed that only the emotional numbing cluster was significantly related to perceived quality of all relationship domains. The association between emotional numbing and perceived relationship quality remained significant in regression analyses even after controlling for fathers' family-of-origin stressors, combat exposure, depression, and substance abuse. Findings suggest that emotional numbing may be the component of PTSD most closely linked to interpersonal impairment in war-zone veterans.