[The Relationship Between Childhood Traumas, Identity Development, Difficulties in Emotion Regulation and Psychopathology]

Turk Psikiyatri Derg. 2018 Winter;29(4):269-278.
[Article in Turkish]


Objective: The present study aimed to explore the relationship between traumatic experiences, difficulties in emotion regulation, identity confusion and psychopathology.

Method: Six hundred and thirty five university students volunteered to participate to the first step of the study (460 (72.4%) females and 175 (27.6%) males). The mean age was 20.57 (17-29) years. The participants who scored above the group mean (X=44) on the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire- Short Form (CTQ-SF) were invited for a diagnostic interview. A total of 69 participants, consisting of 46 females (66.7%) and 23 males (33.3%), with a mean group age of 20.93 (17-29) years, were included in the second step of the study. All participants completed the General Information Form, the CTQSF, the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), the Sense of Identity Assessment Form (SIAF), SCID-I and SCID II.

Results: Prevalence of childhood traumas in the study group was 31.3%. Participants who came from low income groups, who were using psychotropic medications, who had family or personal history of self harm behaviour and who attempted suicide had significantly higher CTQ-SF scores. The SIAF scores of the subgroup diagnosed with psychiatric disorders were significantly higher than those of the undiagnosed. However, they did not differ with respect to their CTQ-SF and DERS scores. Results showed that difficulties in emotion regulation played a partial mediating role in the association of childhood traumatic events, in particular emotional abuse, with identity confusion.

Conclusion: The present study demonstrated that childhood traumatic events not only have effects on emotion regulation and the development of sense of identity, but also may be associated with self harm behaviours in the later stages of life. For prevention studies, enhancing parenting skills and raising community awareness to this issue would be beneficial.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychopathology
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey
  • Universities
  • Young Adult