M. van den Hout
- The effects of conceptual processing versus suppression on analogue PTSD symptoms after a distressing film
- Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
- Volume | Issue number
- 37 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Background: Researchers have begun to scrutinize the assumption that active processing in response to a traumatic event is beneficial whereas avoidance of thoughts, emotions and reminders about the traumatic event is detrimental. Indications that avoidance is not always detrimental come from studies on grief and debriefing.
Aims: In an analogue experimental study, the hypothesis was tested that conceptually-driven processing immediately after a distressing film is more successful in reducing analogue PTSD symptoms than suppression of thoughts and images related to the film.
Method: Ninety students watched a distressing film after which they were instructed to either elaborate on the meaning of the film (conceptual processing) (n = 31), suppress all thoughts and images of the film by performing a task (n = 29), or were given no instruction (n = 30). Four hours later, analogue PTSD symptoms were assessed.
Results: The results showed that conceptually-driven processing does not result in fewer analogue PTSD symptoms than suppression.
Conclusions: It is speculated that suppression may only be dysfunctional when individuals interpret their symptoms negatively or when suppression is believed to be dysfunctional.
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