Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may produce internal "threats to the self," which generate shame. Shame is theoretically and empirically linked to intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. We examined relations among PTSD, cognitive processing of shame-relevant information, and IPV perpetration. Forty-seven community participants completed an emotional Stroop task with shame-relevant and neutral words. Stimuli were presented supraliminally (i.e., until vocal response) and subliminally (i.e., below an individualized threshold of conscious awareness). Facilitated color-naming of shame-relevant words (thought to reflect congruence between shame and self-schemas) mediated the relation between PTSD severity and IPV perpetration frequency. Mediation results for subliminal stimuli suggest that biased processing of shame cues may occur preconsciously and potentially catalyze processes (i.e., expectations of rejection in ambiguous situations with one's partner; avoidance that minimizes discomfort and protects self-image) that lead to IPV perpetration. Psychotherapeutic approaches to PTSD and IPV should consider the role of facilitated processing of shame cues.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health