Effects of Developmental Abuse and Symptom Suppression among Traumatized Veterans


While much of the research on military posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) focuses on warzone reactions, a burgeoning literature highlights complex relationships between childhood adversity and adult-onset PTSD. However, conceptual efforts to delineate the effects of childhood abuse on treatment trajectories for traumatized military veterans are lacking. This study compared trauma and psychological symptom profiles for developmentally abused and non-abused Canadian Forces (CF) veterans (N = 108) diagnosed with operational PTSD. Subscale scores from the Detailed Assessment of PTSD Scale (DAPS) and the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) were submitted to MANOVA. The analysis resulted in a composite variable reflecting’ symptom suppression efforts’ that separated abused veterans (n = 55) from non-abused veterans (n = 53). Post hoc analyses showed significant differences between the abused sub-groups (i.e., physical and sexual abuse [n = 15]; physical abuse only [n = 17]; sexual abuse only [n = 23]) and the non-abused group. Veterans with abuse histories had higher symptom suppression scores, reflecting higher levels of substance abuse, post-traumatic dissociation, interpersonal mistrust, as well as, lower depression and PTSD impairment scores. Implications for clinicians and an alternative intervention for treating traumatized military personnel with histories of developmental abuse are discussed.

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Whelan, J. (2015). Effects of Developmental Abuse and Symptom Suppression among Traumatized Veterans. Psychology, 6, 540-548. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.65052.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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