MMPI-2 and Rorschach assessments of adults physically abused as children

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Cairns, Sharon L.
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This study compared the affective, cognitive, and interpersonal functioning of young women who were physically or both physically and sexually abused as children with a comparable sample of women with no trauma history. This study also examined the relationship between distress and coping style as well as the relationship between distress and levels of cognitive and affective processing. Participants included 86 female undergraduate students screened for trauma history. Measures used included the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, 2$\sp{\rm nd}$ edition (MMPI-2) clinical scales, post-traumatic scales (PK and PS), and average clinical T-score (Mean Cl) and selected variables from the Rorschach. Variables were categorized, a priori as primarily affective, cognitive, interpersonal or generalized distress. Multivariate analyses of variance were conducted in each of the areas of functioning. Independent variables were group and coping style. The trauma group demonstrated significantly greater affective, cognitive, interpersonal, and generalized distress than the no trauma group. Univariate analyses indicated significant group differences on the MMPI-2 Scales: Depression (2), Psychopathic Deviate (4), Paranoia (6), Schizophrenia (8), Mania (9), PK, PS, and Mean Cl. The multivariate main effect for coping style and the interaction between group and coping style were not significant suggesting that coping style is not an important mediator of distress in these subjects. An analysis of covariance revealed a significant interaction between group and cognitive processing. The higher the level of cognitive processing in the trauma group, the lower the Mean Cl. Conversely, in the no-trauma group the higher the level of cognitive processing, the higher the Mean Cl. Affective processing was not a significant predictor of distress. These findings provide important empirical data regarding the long-term functioning of individuals who were physically abused as children, a group neglected by the bulk of the trauma literature. Further, the study contributes to the growing body of literature documenting that survivors of interpersonal violence with higher levels of cognitive processing experience less distress than survivors lower in this quality. The clinical, research, and social implications of the findings are discussed.