Different Traumatic Experiences are Associated with Different Pathologies

Modestin, Jiri ; Furrer, Roman ; Malti, Tina

In: Psychiatric Quarterly, 2005, vol. 76, no. 1, p. 19-32

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    We tested the hypothesis that different traumatic experiences will contribute in variable degree to different mental pathologies. A total of 223 young adult non-patients were assessed with the help of self-reports. The role of six different trauma experiences (broken home, dysfunctional family, family violence, child sexual abuse, child severe sexual abuse and adult sexual abuse) in six different conditions/pathologies (alexithymia, depression, somatization, borderline, overall physical health and overall mental health) was tested in a series of multivariate analyses of variance and of Roy-Bargmann stepdown analyses. The hypothesis was confirmed: Individual traumatic experiences were indeed associated with different pathologies. Specifically, sexual abuse predicted borderline pathology, severe child sexual abuse somatization, and dysfunctional or broken family depression. Family violence was associated with worse overall mental health and alexithymia, whereas no trauma variable could be identified to be associated with overall physical health. Most of these individual relationships were reported in the literature, based on results obtained in different clinical samples. Our results were won in a sample of young non-patients controlling for overlap between pathologies