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J Abnorm Psychol. 1991 May;100(2):156-62.

Processing of threat-related information in rape victims.

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Medical College of Pennsylvania, Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Philadelphia 19129.


We investigated selective processing of threat information in persons with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by using a modified Stroop procedure. Subjects were 15 rape victims with PTSD, 13 rape victims without the disorder, and 16 nontraumatized control subjects. They were asked to name the color of four types of words: specific threat (rape-related) words, general threat (related to physical harm and death) words, neutral words, and nonwords. Rape victims with PTSD evidenced a longer response latency for color naming of rape-related words than for other target-word types. Response latencies of non-PTSD victims and nonvictim control subjects did not differ across word types. Possible mechanisms underlying the selective processing of threat material are considered, and clinical implications are discussed.

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