Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Psychological and Brain Sciences
Clinical Psychology, PhD
Newton, Tamara L.
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
Salmon, Paul G.
Psychological abuse victims--Rehabilitation; Dating violence; Post-traumatic stress disorder
To help understand why intimate partner psychological abuse has been associated with posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms in past studies, two studies of college-aged individuals tested a mediational model in which shame during recall was hypothesized to mediate associations between psychological abuse memory recall and PTS symptom severity. The model was partially supported. Experiment 1 established the first piece of the model by linking recall of a psychological abuse memory to increases in state shame from pre- to post-recall. Consistent with the hypothesis, there was a statistically significant interaction between memory condition (psychological abuse memory, non-abuse relationship memory) and time of assessment (pre-recall, post recall) for state shame. Increases in state shame from pre- to post-recall were observed for psychological abuse memories, but not for non-abuse relationship memories. To establish the second piece of the model, Experiment 2 tested the hypothesis that increases in past-day PTS symptom severity would be observed from pre-recall to 24 hours post-recall of a shameful psychological abuse memory. Contrary to the hypothesis, there was not a statistically significant interaction between memory group (shameful psychological abuse memory, emotionally-neutral relationship memory) and time of assessment (pre-recall, post-recall) for past-day PTS symptom severity. Instead, for women overall, there was a statistically significant decrease in past-day PTS symptom severity from pre- to post-recall. Ancillary hypotheses regarding specific PTS symptom clusters were also unsupported. Thus, the results did not provide support for the second piece of the mediational model. When both experiments were considered, a causal pathway from recall of a psychological abuse memory to increased post-recall PTS symptom severity via shame during recall was not established. Several factors (e.g., instrumentation problems related to the measure of past-day PTS symptom severity and unmeasured memory properties) may partially explain why shameful psychological abuse memory recall and PTS symptoms were not linked and, therefore, further consideration of the mediational model is warranted. This study revealed that psychological abuse memory recall is a potent precipitator of shame. Thus, the role of shame in post-abuse mental health among individuals with histories of psychological abuse may be particularly important for both researchers and clinicians to consider.
Fleming, Kimberly N., "Intimate partner psychological abuse and posttraumatic stress symptoms : the role of shame during recall of psychological abuse memories." (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 2101.