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Cognitive models have linked individual differences in the appraisal of traumatic events and their sequelae to the persistence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A pilot study investigated this proposal with victims of assault. Eleven assault victims suffering from persistent PTSD and 9 victims who had recovered from PTSD were interviewed retrospectively and compared on potentially relevant cognitive factors. Groups were comparable in terms of characteristics of the assault, gender, age, and initial PTSD severity. Participants with persistent PTSD were less likely than those who had recovered to have engaged in mental planning during the assault and more likely to have experienced mental defeat, and to indicate negative appraisals of their actions during the assault, of others' reactions after the assult, and of their initial PTSD symptoms. They were also more likely to indicate global negative beliefs concerning their perception of themselves, their world or their future. These cognitive factors may maintain PTSD symptoms either directly or by motivating the individual to engage in behaviour that prevents change.


Journal article


Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Publication Date





147 - 159