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Objective: To determine whether maternal violence-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reflective functioning (RF), and/or quality of mental representations of her child predicts maternal behavior within a referred sample of mothers exposed to interpersonal violence and their children (aged 8–50 months). Method: A total of 41 dyads completed 2 videotaped visits including measures of maternal mentalrepresentations and behavior. Results: Negative and distorted maternal mental representations predicted atypical behavior (Cohen’s d > 1.0). Although maternal PTSD and RF impacted mental representations, no significant relationships were found between PTSD, RF, and overall atypical caregiving behavior. Severity of maternal PTSD was, however, positively correlated with the avoidant caregiving behaviorsubscale. Conclusions: Maternal mental representations of her child are useful risk indicators that mark dysregulation of trauma-associated emotions in the caregiver.


This work was originally published in Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, available at doi:10.1080/15299730802045666



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