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The Role of Emotion in PTSD: Two Preliminary Studies

  • Mick J. Power (a1) and Claire Fyvie (a2)


Background: Two studies are presented that highlight the role of emotion in PTSD in which we examine what emotions in addition to anxiety may be present. Aims: The first aim was to assess the overall emotion profile across the five basic emotions of anxiety, sadness, anger, disgust, and happiness in clients attending a stress clinic. A small pilot study was also carried out to see how the emotion profiles impacted on outcome for CBT. Method: In Study 1, 75 consecutive attenders at a trauma service who were diagnosed with PTSD were assessed with a number of measures that included the Basic Emotions Scale. Results: The results showed that less than 50% of PTSD cases presented with anxiety as the primary emotion, with the remainder showing primary emotions of sadness, anger, or disgust rather than anxiety. A second pilot study involved the follow-up across exposure-based CBT of 20 of the participants from Study 1. Conclusions: The results suggest that anxiety-based PTSD is more likely to benefit from exposure than is non-anxiety based PTSD. Implications both for the classification and the treatment of PTSD are considered.


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Reprint requests to Mick Power, Clinical Psychology, Edinburgh University Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, Scotland. E-mail:


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The Role of Emotion in PTSD: Two Preliminary Studies

  • Mick J. Power (a1) and Claire Fyvie (a2)


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The Role of Emotion in PTSD: Two Preliminary Studies

  • Mick J. Power (a1) and Claire Fyvie (a2)
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