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Child Abuse Negl. 2014 Apr;38(4):735-46. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.10.014. Epub 2013 Nov 16.

Emotional abuse as a predictor of early maladaptive schemas in adolescents: contributions to the development of depressive and social anxiety symptoms.

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University of Deusto, Spain.


The schema therapy model posits that maltreatment generates early maladaptive schemas (EMSs) that lead to the development of emotional disorders throughout the life span. The model also stipulates that temperament moderates the influence of maltreatment on EMSs. This study examines (a) whether emotional abuse perpetrated by parents and peers, both alone and interactively with temperament, predicts the worsening of EMSs; and (b) whether EMSs in turn predict an increase in depressive and social anxiety symptoms in adolescents. A total of 1,052 adolescents (Mage=13.43; SD=1.29) were assessed at three time points, each of which was separated by 6 months. The subjects completed measures of emotional abuse by parents and peers, neuroticism, extraversion, EMSs, depressive symptoms, and social anxiety. The findings indicate that emotional bullying victimization and neuroticism predict a worsening of all schema domains over time. Contrary to expectations, there was no significant interaction between temperament dimensions and emotional abuse. The results confirmed the mediational hypothesis that changes in EMSs mediated the predictive association between bullying victimization and emotional symptoms. This study provides partial support for the schema therapy model by demonstrating the role of emotional abuse and temperament in the genesis of EMSs.


Adolescents; Bullying victimization; Depression; Early maladaptive schemas; Parental emotional abuse; Social anxiety; Temperament

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