College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)

Department

Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Steven Gold

Second Advisor

Jan Faust

Third Advisor

David Reitman

Keywords

adult survivors, alexithymia, attachment, childhood abuse, depression, PTSD symptoms

Abstract

The relationship between alexithymia, PTSD symptoms, attachment, and depression was examined using archival data from a university-based trauma clinic. Participants were 62 women and 20 men, ages ranging from 17 to 59, with childhood histories of physical or sexual abuse. Measures included the Structured Clinical Interview on Childhood Sexual Abuse History (SI-SA), Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R), Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ), Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II), and Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20). As predicted, alexithymia, PTSD symptoms, and depression were negatively correlated with secure attachment and positively correlated with insecure attachment. Also as predicted, depression and insecure attachment styles containing negative models of the self (need for approval, discomfort with closeness) mediated the relationship between alexithymia and PTSD symptoms while styles involving positive models of the self (confidence, relationships as secondary) did not. Preoccupation with relationships was excluded from mediation analyses because alexithymia was not a significant predictor of this construct. Results suggest that the symptom profile of adult survivors of childhood abuse can be complex and may require interventions that target a broad range of symptoms and difficulties including alexithymia, attachment, and depression.

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