Mentalizing as a Mediator between Sexual Abuse and PTSD in Adolescents

Authors: Wais, Marissa
Advisor: Ensink, Karin
Abstract: Sexual abuse (SA) is a major risk factor for PTSD in adolescents. Mentalizing, which refers to the capacity to reflect on the mind of the self and others, has been shown to be associated with both SA and PTSD in children and adults, though these associations remain to be tested in an adolescent sample. The aim of this study was to examine associations between mentalizing, SA, and PTSD in a clinical sample of 421 adolescents aged 12 to 17. Participants were recruited from a private inpatient psychiatric hospital for adolescents. Participants completed the Movie for Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC), the Child Attachment Interview (CAI), the Reflective Function Questionnaire for Youth (RFQ-Y), the Computerized Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (C-DISC), the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), and the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC). As hypothesized, adolescents with a history of SA reported significantly greater PTSD symptoms and had lower mentalizing scores using the MASC and the RFQ-Y. An unexpected finding was that adolescents with a history of SA also showed higher mentalizing scores using the CAI, possibly due to SA activating mentalizing regarding self and attachment figures during the adolescent period. The main study finding was that mentalizing mediated the relationship between SA and PTSD, providing support for the hypothesis that the relationship between SA and PTSD can be understood through the mediating influence of mentalizing in an adolescent sample.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2022
Open Access Date: 13 June 2022
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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