Intrusions in trauma and psychosis: information processing and phenomenology
Marks, E. M., Steel, C. and Peters, E. R. (2012) Intrusions in trauma and psychosis: information processing and phenomenology. Psychological Medicine, 42 (11). 2313-2323 . ISSN 1469-8978
To link to this article DOI: 10.1017/S0033291712000505
Background: Intrusions are common symptoms of both posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia. Steel et al (2005) suggest that an information processing style characterized by weak trait contextual integration renders psychotic individuals vulnerable to intrusive experiences. This ‘contextual integration hypothesis’ was tested in individuals reporting anomalous experiences in the absence of a need-for-care. Methods: Twenty-six low schizotypes and twenty-three individuals reporting anomalous experiences were shown a traumatic film with and without a concurrent visuo-spatial task. Participants rated post-traumatic intrusions for frequency and form, and completed self-report measures of information processing style. It was predicted that, due to their weaker trait contextual integration, the anomalous experiences group would (1) exhibit more intrusions following exposure to the trauma-film; (2) display intrusions characterised by more PTSD qualities and (3) show a greater reduction of intrusions with the concurrent visuo-spatial task. Results: As predicted, the anomalous experiences group reported a lower level of trait contextual integration and more intrusions than the low schizotypes, both immediately after watching the film, and during the following seven days. Their post-traumatic intrusive memories were more PTSD-like (more intrusive, vivid and associated with emotion). The visuo-spatial task had no effect on number of intrusions in either group. Conclusions: These findings provide some support for the proposal that weak trait contextual integration underlies the development of intrusions within both PTSD and psychosis.