The role of shame and self-critical thinking in the development and maintenance of current threat in post-traumatic stress disorder, Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 2010, Volume 17 Issue 1, Pages 13 – 24
Rachel Harman, Deborah Lee
Paediatric Psychology Service, Clare House, St George’s Hospital, London, UK
Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology, Torrington Place, London, UK
There is increasing recognition of emotions other than fear in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and recent research has looked at the role of shame. Cognitive theory suggests that PTSD is caused by traumatic experiences being processed in a way that causes ongoing current threat. In this paper we suggest that shame might contribute to the creation/maintenance of ongoing current threat as it attacks an individual’s psychological integrity. A correlational design was used to investigate some of the factors that might contribute to a shame response within a PTSD sample. It was hypothesized that individuals with PTSD who report higher levels of shame would be more prone to engage in self-critical thinking and less prone to engage in self-reassuring thinking than individuals with PTSD who report lower levels of shame. Data were gathered using self-report questionnaires, and results supported the hypotheses. It is suggested therapy for shame-based PTSD needs to incorporate strategies to help individuals develop inner caring, compassion and self-reassurance.
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