Patient Educ Couns. 2005 Apr;57(1):1-4.
J Trauma Dissociation. 2005;6(3):83-104.
In the current study we sought, first, to distinguish associations with health arising from types of trauma as indicated by betrayal trauma theory (Freyd, 1996, 2001), and, second, to investigate the impact of disclosing a trauma history in survey form and/or writing essays about betrayal traumas. We recruited 99 community adults reporting at least 12 months of chronic medical illness or pain, 80 of whom completed all four sessions of this six-month longitudinal intervention study. Participants were randomly assigned to write about betrayal traumas or neutral events, and they were randomly assigned to complete an extensive trauma survey or a long personality inventory, producing four groups of participants. All 99 participants were assessed at their initial visit for trauma history using the Brief Betrayal Trauma Survey (BBTS) and physical and mental symptoms. The BBTS assesses exposure to both traumas high in betrayal (such as abuse by a close other) and traumas low in betrayal but high in life-threat (such as an automobile accident). Exposure to traumas with high betrayal was significantly correlated with number of physical illness, anxiety, dissociation, and depression symptoms. Amount of exposure to other types of traumas (low betrayal traumas) did not predict symptoms over and above exposure to betrayal trauma. While neither the survey manipulation nor the writing intervention led to main effects on change in symptoms over time, there were interactions between betrayal trauma history and condition such that participants with many betrayal traumas fared better in the control conditions while participants with fewer betrayal traumas had better outcomes if they were placed in the trauma writing and/or survey conditions. We discuss ongoing and future research aimed at evaluating the role of increased structure in writing assignments as beneficial for those with severe histories of betrayal trauma.
Violence Vict. 2005 Dec;20(6):717-28.
Writing often helps people deal with trauma. To see if writing about childhood physical or sexual abuse, or positive experiences, helps, psychology undergraduates wrote for 20 minutes on 4 days about their abuse, a positive experience, or a trivial topic. Among 102 who began and 85 who completed pre-, post-, and 4-week follow-up measures of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideas, abuse writers were more likely to discontinue, and positive writers were more depressed and anxious. Compared to pretest, all completers were less depressed, anxious, and suicidal at follow-up, but nonsignificantly different in health visits. Completers who wrote about abuse rated the study as more valuable than did those who wrote about positive experiences. College students who wrote about childhood physical or sexual abuse benefited from any type of structured writing assignment (where they interacted with a researcher and got extra credit) in terms of reduced anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideas, but they found value in writing about their trauma more than writing about innocuous topics.
J Health Psychol. 2005 Mar;10(2):211-21.
This study examined the effects of expressive writing on depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain symptoms among women who have survived intimate partner violence (IPV). Forty-seven women completed baseline and four-month follow-up assessments and were randomly assigned to four writing sessions of either expressive writing focused on traumatic life events or writing about a neutral topic. Main effects were not significant for changes in depression, pain or PTSD symptoms. However, among depressed women, those assigned to expressive writing showed a significantly greater drop in depression. For depressed women with IPV histories, expressive writing may lead to reduced depression.
Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Jun;31(6):818-30.
Empirical research shows that individuals high in fear of rejection typically report low levels of perceived social support and are more vulnerable to stressful experiences. At the same time, writing about stressful experiences in an emotional way seems to help people adapt to current stressors and not-yet-assimilated stressful experiences. Therefore, the authors suggest that written emotional expression may be a particularly effective strategy to manage negative emotions for individuals high in fear of rejection. Three studies were conducted to test these assumptions. Study 1 found that high fear of rejection is linked to a lack of perceived social support. Longitudinal Studies 2 and 3 supported our main hypothesis, demonstrating that written emotional expression is linked to lower levels of negative mood among individuals high (but not among individuals low) in fear of rejection.