Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms might be destroying your intimacy : a test of mediational models in a community sample of couples
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The present research focused on the pathways through which the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may negatively impact intimacy. Previous research has confirmed a link between self-reported PTSD symptoms and intimacy; however, a thorough examination of mediating paths, partner effects, and secondary traumatization has not yet been realized. With a sample of 297 heterosexual couples, intraindividual and dyadic models were developed to explain the relationships between PTSD symptoms and intimacy in the context of interdependence theory, attachment theory, and models of selfpreservation (e.g., fight-or-flight). The current study replicated the findings of others and has supported a process in which affective (alexithymia, negative affect, positive affect) and communication (demand-withdraw behaviour, self-concealment, and constructive communication) pathways mediate the intraindividual and dyadic relationships between PTSD symptoms and intimacy. Moreover, it also found that the PTSD symptoms of each partner were significantly related; however, this was only the case for those dyads in which the partners had disclosed most everything about their traumatic experiences. As such, secondary traumatization was supported. Finally, although the overall pattern of results suggest a total negative effect of PTSD symptoms on intimacy, a sex difference was evident such that the direct effect of the woman's PTSD symptoms were positively associated with both her and her partner's intimacy. I t is possible that the Tend-andBefriend model of threat response, wherein women are said to foster social bonds in the face of distress, may account for this sex difference. Overall, however, it is clear that PTSD symptoms were negatively associated with relationship quality and attention to this impact in the development of diagnostic criteria and treatment protocols is necessary.