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Investigation of Trauma Type Differences Using the Personality Assessment Inventory




Ingram, Lindsay

Type of Degree





PTSD has been classified as an umbrella disorder, with the resulting syndrome appearing similar in individuals with varied trauma exposure. This concept has been examined from the beginning, with the breadth of events qualifying as Criterion A being thought to contribute potentially differently to the development of, symptoms, and course of the disorder. Currently, the research is lacking in the investigation of trauma type differences and PTSD, especially using a partially DSM-correspondent multi-scale inventory. The current study examined the differences among three groups of trauma-exposed individuals: those having experienced a motor-vehicle accident, a sexual assault, or sudden, unexpected death or loss. The participants were Auburn University students identifying as experiencing a “stressful event” that met Criterion A for a PTSD diagnosis. The profiles of these individuals were examined and compared on the scales of the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), due to the high rates of comorbidity with PTSD and other mental disorders. Results replicated previous studies in that the sexual assaultgroup produced the most severe symptoms overall. Additionally, the results revealed significant differences in profile among the groups, with a departure from parallelism, indicating the syndromes produced by the different traumas may be distinct from each other. The study points to an important area of study in need of further research, particularly important in terms of potential differential treatment of PTSD resulting from different types of trauma.