Date of Award

3-14-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Donald U. Robertson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lynda M. Federoff, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John A. Mills, Ph.D., ABPP

Abstract

The current study examined the utility of Self-Trauma Theory for explaining the long-term impact of the experience of childhood physical discipline and/or psychological maltreatment. Specifically, the self-capacities of interpersonal relatedness, identity, and affect regulation were tested as mediators of the impact of child maltreatment on different tension-reducing behaviors in adulthood: substance use, aggression, and suicidality. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to examine data collected from 268 university students who completed the Personality Assessment Inventory, Comprehensive Child Maltreatment Scale, and Inventory of Altered Self-Capacities. Results showed that the self-capacities were each predicted by different combinations of maltreatment variables and that the ability of self-capacities to mediate the long-term impact of child maltreatment is dependent on the tension-reducing behavior under examination. Specifically, identity impairment significantly predicted alcohol use problems and interpersonal conflicts significantly predicted drug use problems. Interpersonal conflicts partially mediated the relationship between child maltreatment and aggression as emotional abuse continued to exert a significant effect on aggression after controlling for self-capacities. Lastly, identity impairment and affect dysregulation fully mediated the relationship between child maltreatment and current suicidality. Theoretical implications are discussed as well as directions for future research.

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