Writing About Betrayal Trauma: Examining Gender and Narrative Structure

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Title: Writing About Betrayal Trauma: Examining Gender and Narrative Structure
Author: Allard, Carolyn B. (Carolyn Brigitte), 1968-; Freyd, Jennifer J.
Abstract: In Pennebaker's writing paradigm, participants are instructed either to write about emotional events or neutral topics. Those assigned to the emotional writing condition typically display physical and psychological health improvements (Pennebaker, 1997; Smyth, 1998). Up until now, the writing paradigm has for the most part been applied to events which have been described as emotional but not specifically traumatic. Betrayal trauma is perpetrated by someone who is close to the victim and has been associated with various negative consequences. Sixty-five university undergraduates (51 female, 14 male) were randomly assigned to write either about a distressing interpersonal event they experienced during childhood or how they spent their time during the previous day. Over 50% of all participants reported having experienced at least one betrayal trauma, women reported more betrayal trauma than men, and betrayal trauma and health measures were found to be negatively related. While a main effect of writing on symptomatology reduction was not found, a significant gender by writing condition interaction emerged, which revealed that, in general, women in the trauma writing condition benefited more than men. Examination of the essays points to the importance of narrative structure in predicting outcome.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/4328
Date: 2004-11


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