Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Vulnerability in Women: The Neuropsychological Impact of Emotional Trauma from Rape
DeVore, Benjamin Bradford
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The current experiment aims to integrate the neuropsychological and physiological consequences of rape trauma and physical restraint. Given the preponderance of rape on college campuses, it is important for continued research efforts to provide insight into the impact that this traumatic experience may have on the victim. Moreover, it is expected that an improved understanding of these consequences and mechanisms will provide a foundation for prevention and treatment efforts. Within this context, capacity theory provides a basis for appreciating that extreme stress may alter and/or damage neural systems principally associated with the regulatory control or inhibition over brain regions directly involved in the experiential processing and/or comprehension of the traumatic event. The aim of the present experiment was to explore how the experience of rape trauma may alter or diminish this capacity, resulting in deregulation, heightened reactivity, and sensitivity to decomposition from subsequent exposure to these events. It was hypothesized that individuals with resultant capacity limitations would differ in the regulatory control of cynical hostility or denial and sympathetic advances of the autonomic nervous system. Results demonstrated that women who have experienced rape showed decreased frontal regulatory control capacity compared to women who have not experienced rape as evidenced in sympathetic reactivity (heart rate, electrodermal activity, and systolic blood pressure) to frontal lobe stressors. Results are discussed in terms of the extant neuropsychological literature and the implications of observed differences for women who have experienced rape type trauma.
- Doctoral Dissertations