Expressive inhibition following interpersonal trauma: An analysis of reported function


Existing research indicates veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may deliberately inhibit the expression of emotion. However, the degree to which inhibition generalizes to other trauma populations and the specific reasons survivors with PTSD inhibit expression remains unclear. The present study looked to evaluate expressive inhibition among survivors of intimate partner violence (N=74), to determine reasons for inhibition in this population, and to examine whether any justifications for inhibition are unique to individuals with PTSD. The frequency and intensity of inhibition scores were similar to those noted in previous research although no differences were observed across women with and without PTSD. Self-reported justifications for inhibition indicated five general themes: Concern for others, Mistrust/fear of exploitation, Perception of others as indifferent/uncaring, Control/Experiential avoidance, and Situation-specific inhibition. Only mistrust/exploitation motives were uniquely associated with PTSD. Whereas expressive inhibition may be elevated within help-seeking samples, individuals who develop PTSD appear to hold unique reasons for restricting emotional expression. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication Title

Journal of Anxiety Disorders