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Theory of mind performance in women with posttraumatic stress disorder related to childhood abuse
Article first published online: 10 MAY 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica
How to Cite
Theory of mind performance in women with posttraumatic stress disorder related to childhood abuse., , , , , , .
- Article first published online: 10 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 3 APR 2013
- social perception;
- theory of mind;
- stress disorders;
- adult survivors of child abuse
Key questions remain unaddressed concerning the nature of interpersonal functioning in trauma survivors, including the ability to understand and interpret other people's thoughts and feelings. Here, we investigate theory of mind (ToM) performance of women with PTSD related to childhood abuse in comparison to healthy controls.
Participants completed two ToM tasks, the Interpersonal Perception Task-15 (IPT-15) and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task – Revised (RMET).
Relative to controls, women with a history of childhood trauma had difficulty recognizing familial relationships depicted in the IPT-15 (P = 0.005). No other category of the IPT-15 showed significant group differences. In addition, while healthy women displayed faster RMET reaction times to emotionally valenced mental states (positive: P = 0.003; negative: P = 0.016) compared with neutral mental states, the PTSD group showed similar reaction times across all valences. The presence of dissociative symptoms (e.g., disengagement, amnesia, identity dissociation) was strongly associated with hindered accuracy of complex mental state identification and altered perception of kinship interactions.
Women with PTSD stemming from childhood trauma show changes in ToM abilities particularly those often involved in the interpretation of family interactions. In addition, individuals with PTSD showed slower reaction times during the recognition of complex mental states from emotionally salient facial/eye expressions in comparison with healthy subjects.