Preliminary evidence has demonstrated the benefits of targeting self-compassion in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, survivors of childhood maltreatment may present with unique challenges that compromise the effectiveness of these and other PTSD treatments. Specifically, childhood maltreatment victims often exhibit a marked fear and active resistance of self-kindness and warmth (i.e., fear of self-compassion). Victims may also attempt to control distressing internal experiences in a way that hinders engagement in value-based actions (i.e., psychological inflexibility). Research suggests that psychological inflexibility exacerbates the negative effects of fear of self-compassion. The present study expanded on previous research by examining the relations among childhood maltreatment, fear of self-compassion, psychological inflexibility, and PTSD symptom severity in 288 college women. As expected, moderate to severe levels of childhood maltreatment were associated with greater fear of self-compassion, psychological inflexibility, and PTSD symptom severity compared to minimal or no childhood maltreatment. A mediation analysis showed that childhood maltreatment had a significant indirect effect on PTSD symptom severity via fear of self-compassion, although a conditional process analysis did not support psychological inflexibility as a moderator of this indirect effect. A post hoc multiple mediator analysis showed a significant indirect effect of childhood maltreatment on PTSD symptom severity via psychological inflexibility, but not fear of self-compassion. These findings highlight the importance of addressing fear of self-compassion and psychological inflexibility as barriers to treatment for female survivors of childhood maltreatment.
Keywords: Childhood maltreatment; Conditional process analysis; Fear of self-compassion; PTSD; Psychological inflexibility.
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