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Behav Res Ther. 2000 Apr;38(4):319-45.

A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, UK. anke.ehlers@psych.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common reaction to traumatic events. Many people recover in the ensuing months, but in a significant subgroup the symptoms persist, often for years. A cognitive model of persistence of PTSD is proposed. It is suggested that PTSD becomes persistent when individuals process the trauma in a way that leads to a sense of serious, current threat. The sense of threat arises as a consequence of: (1) excessively negative appraisals of the trauma and/or its sequelae and (2) a disturbance of autobiographical memory characterised by poor elaboration and contextualization, strong associative memory and strong perceptual priming. Change in the negative appraisals and the trauma memory are prevented by a series of problematic behavioural and cognitive strategies. The model is consistent with the main clinical features of PTSD, helps explain several apparently puzzling phenomena and provides a framework for treatment by identifying three key targets for change. Recent studies have provided preliminary support for several aspects of the model.

PMID:
10761279
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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