ABSTRACT: The present study investigated the relation between thought suppression of emotionally neutral content [i.e., Wegner's (1994) "white bear"], incidental traumatic thought intrusion, and skin conductance responses in combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Participants included service members who either: a) had PTSD following an Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment; b) were free of psychiatric diagnosis following deployment (Combat Equivalent), or c) were pre-deployed and without psychiatric diagnosis (Pre-Deployed). PTSD Service Members reported the greatest intrusion of combat thoughts during the suppression task and demonstrated a post-suppression rebound effect with a neutral thought. Non-specific skin conductance responses indicated that the suppression task was related to similar levels of increased sympathetic activity for both the PTSD and Pre-Deployed groups, whereas the Combat Equivalent group showed no increased activation during thought suppression. Intrusive traumatic thoughts combined with failures in neutral thought suppression may be a consequence of increased cognitive load in PTSD.
Behaviour research and therapy 10/2009; 47(9):744-51. · 3.00 Impact Factor