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   2011, Vol. 43 Issue (10) : 1163-1174     DOI:
The Influence of Childhood Trauma on Trait-depression and Trait-anxiety: the Mediation-specificity of Schemas
CUI Li-Xia;LUO Xiao-Jing;XIAO-Jing
Department of Psychology, Capital Normal University, Beijing 10048, China
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Abstract  One of the most prominent cognitive theories of differentiation between anxiety and depression is Beck’s Cognitive Content Specificity Hypothesis (CCSH) developed in 1976, which suggests that specific cognitive content is associated with specific psychological disorders of anxiety and depression. While specific cognition, such as negative automatic thoughts, attributionnal style, have been examined, yet Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMSs) defined by Young (Young, Klosko, & Weishaar, 2003) as ‘extremely stable and enduring theme that develop during childhood and adolescence and are elaborated upon throughout the individual’s life-time, and that are dysfunctional to a significant degree’ has been not fully investigated. In particular it is still unknown. Thus, the present study was to investigate the mediation-specificity of schemas between early childhood trauma and depression and anxiety. We hypothesized that EMSs relating to danger, threat and uncertainty would mediate between children trauma relating to abuse and anxiety and EMSs relating to loss, hopeless, failure would mediate between children trauma relating to neglect and depression.
668 undergraduate students completed Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ-SF; Bernstein & Fink, 1998), Young Schema Questionnaire-Short Form (YSQ-SF; Young, 1998), Trait-Depression Questionnaire (T-DEP; Ritterband & Spielberger, 1996), and Trait-Anxiety Inventory (T-AI; Spielberger, 1983). Data was analyzed using the mediation analysis procedure proposed by Baron and Kenny (1986). According to their definitions trait-depression and trait-anxiety should be more closely related to childhood trauma and EMSs. Thus in this study we used the trait-depression scale and trait-anxiety scale instead of state-depression scales and state-anxiety scales which were used in the past studies. The research focus was the mediation-specificity of schemas between childhood trauma and trait-depression and trait-anxiety.
The results were: (1) Three kinds of childhood trauma (emotional maltreatment, emotional neglect and physical neglect) were significantly related to higher scores on trait-depression and trait-anxiety and no significant difference emerged between the correlation coefficient relating childhood trauma to trait-anxiety and that relating childhood trauma to trait-depression; (2) For all three kinds of childhood trauma schemas with themes of loss/worthlessness (Emotional Deprivation, Defectiveness/Shame schemas, Self-sacrifice and Social isolation/alienation) preferentially mediated the relation between childhood trauma and trait-depression, while schemas with themes of danger (Mistrust/Abuse and Vulnerability to harm or illness) preferentially mediated the relation between childhood trauma and trait-anxiety.
Our results confirmed the mediation-specificity of EMSs. The specificity emerged in the mediation analyses added much to understanding of the different pathology of depression and anxiety. The same childhood trauma could lead to the development of EMSs in different individuals and result in different mood disorders. But Young’s theory that linked specific early traumatic experiences to the development of specific EMSs was not confirmed. Consistent with Young’s theory, all five of the early childhood trauma examined in this study correlated highly with scores on several EMSs and influenced trait-anxiety and trait-depression by different mediating EMSs. This confirmed Young’s theory that suggested childhood trauma was of great importance in the development of EMSs. Additionally, the important clinical implications are that insight into the process by which childhood maltreatment leads to specific symptom profiles in depression may help clinicians in tailoring individual treatments. Information regarding a client’s early history may need to be supplemented by an assessment of the schemas that have been formed as a result of that history in order to provide a full conceptualization of the client’s pathology.
Keywords childhood trauma      trait-anxiety      trait-depression      Early Maladaptive Schemas     
Corresponding Authors: CUI Li-Xia   
Issue Date: 30 October 2011
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CUI Li-Xia,LUO Xiao-Jing,XIAO-Jing. The Influence of Childhood Trauma on Trait-depression and Trait-anxiety: the Mediation-specificity of Schemas[J]. , 2011, 43(10): 1163-1174.
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