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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1998 Dec;66(6):906-13.

Psychophysiologic assessment of women with posttraumatic stress disorder resulting from childhood sexual abuse.

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Research Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Manchester, New Hampshire 03103, USA.


Heart rate, skin conductance, and left lateral frontalis and corrugator facial electromyogram responses were measured during script-driven imagery of personal childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and other life experiences among women with and without Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd ed., rev., American Psychiatric Association, 1987)--diagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from CSA. Women with current PTSD (n = 29) showed larger physiologic responses than those who never had PTSD (n = 18) during personal sexual abuse imagery but not during imagery of stressful, nonabuse-related life experiences. Responses of individuals with lifetime, but not current, PTSD (n = 24) fell between the other groups. An a priori discriminant function, derived from physiologic responses of previously studied individuals, correctly classified 66% of women with current PTSD and 78% of women who never had PTSD.

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