Classic and Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Latent Profile Analysis
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Some trauma survivors, especially those exposed to chronic interpersonal trauma, exhibit a wide range of psychological sequelae beyond the classic symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Foremost among these are dissociation, emotion dysregulation, relational difficulties, adversely affected belief systems, and somatic distress. It has been proposed that these additional symptoms, in conjunction with the symptoms of PTSD, represent a distinct syndrome referred to as complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). However, the relationship of CPTSD with PTSD is unclear and the subject of considerable debate, owing primarily to ambiguity surrounding the definition of CPTSD and methodological limitations of research in this area. In the present study, CPTSD and PTSD were examined using latent profile analysis in a sample of 717 trauma-exposed undergraduates. Items and scales from the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5, Inventory of Altered Self-Capacities, Multiscale Dissociation Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory – Second Edition, and Personality Assessment Inventory were used as latent class indicators. Results supported a four-class solution, including a well-adjusted class, a dissociative class, a PTSD symptoms class, and a CPTSD symptoms class characterized by elevated PTSD, dissociation, emotion dysregulation, relational difficulties, adversely affected belief systems, and somatic distress. After comparing the classes across measures of childhood abuse and related psychopathology, the CPTSD symptoms class was found to display more severe levels of impairment. The implications of the findings for the classification of trauma-related disorders are discussed.