Critical incident, adult attachment style and posttraumatic stress disorder: A comparison of three groups of security workers

Stefan Bogaerts1, Annelies L. Daalder2, Leontien M. Van der Knaap2, Maarten J. Kunst3, Jos Buschman4
1Ministry of Justice, The Hague, Tilburg University, The Netherlands and Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, Netherlands
2Ministry of Justice, The Hague, Netherlands
3Intervict, Tilburg University, Netherlands
4Dr. S. Van Mesdag Clinic, Netherlands
Cite this article:  Bogaerts, S. , Daalder, A. L., Van der Knaap, L. M., Kunst, M. J., & Buschman, J. (2008). Critical incident, adult attachment style and posttraumatic stress disorder: A comparison of three groups of security workers. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 36, 1063-1072.

Volume 36 Issue 8 | e1784 | Published: September 2008 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2008.36.8.1063

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In this paper the authors render the results of research investigating adult attachment and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of Belgian security workers. The sample contained 3 subsamples: 68 individuals who had directly experienced a critical incident, 67 individuals who indirectly went through a critical incident, and 77 individuals who had not experienced a critical incident in the last six months. The analysis of the research results shows that the secure attachment style and the three PTSD trauma symptom clusters in DSM-IV - intrusion, avoidance/numbing, and hyperarousal - discriminate between the three subsamples. In other words, security workers who were directly and actively confronted with a critical incident were significantly more insecurely attached and suffered significantly more from PTSD symptoms than the groups who had no or indirect experience of a critical incident. Furthermore, trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy is widely and quite efficiently used in the treatment of PTSD. Interest has been expressed in medical approaches.

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