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07-02-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2017

Child Psychiatry & Human Development 6/2017

Trauma and Aggression: Investigating the Mediating Role of Mentalizing in Female and Male Inpatient Adolescents

Child Psychiatry & Human Development > Uitgave 6/2017
Anna Abate, Kaisa Marshall, Carla Sharp, Amanda Venta


High rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and elevated levels of aggression are common among youth in inpatient psychiatric settings. Several models link trauma exposure to aggression through anomalous mental state reasoning. Some theoretical frameworks linking trauma to aggression specify that the over-attribution of hostile mental states contributes to the development of aggressive behavior whereas other theories suggest that an inhibition of mental state reasoning leads to aggressive behavior. Using a sample of inpatient adolescents, the current study examined relations between PTSD symptoms and four forms of aggression, exploring the role of both over- and under-mentalizing (i.e., hypo- and hypermentalizing) as mediators and gender as a moderator. The results suggest that hypermentalizing, but not hypomentalizing, mediates the relation between trauma and aggression, extending prior research related to inpatient adolescents for the first time. Evidence of moderated mediation was noted, such that this mediational relation was evident for females but not males. The current study offers support for differential underlying causes of aggression among males and females with PTSD symptoms.

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