A developmental approach to complex PTSD: Childhood and adult cumulative trauma as predictors of symptom complexity

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.
Journal of Traumatic Stress (Impact Factor: 2.72). 10/2009; 22(5):399-408. DOI: 10.1002/jts.20444
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Exposure to multiple traumas, particularly in childhood, has been proposed to result in a complex of symptoms that includes posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as a constrained, but variable group of symptoms that highlight self-regulatory disturbances. The relationship between accumulated exposure to different types of traumatic events and total number of different types of symptoms (symptom complexity) was assessed in an adult clinical sample (N = 582) and a child clinical sample (N = 152). Childhood cumulative trauma but not adulthood trauma predicted increasing symptom complexity in adults. Cumulative trauma predicted increasing symptom complexity in the child sample. Results suggest that Complex PTSD symptoms occur in both adult and child samples in a principled, rule-governed way and that childhood experiences significantly influenced adult symptoms.

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