Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Steve Tuber


Lisa J. Cohen

Committee Members

Diana Punales

Deidre Anglin

Benjamin Harris

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Other Mental and Social Health | Other Psychiatry and Psychology | Other Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychological Phenomena and Processes


Trauma, Personality Pathology, Emotional Abuse, Projective Assessment, Attachment, Object Relations Theory


There is a robust evidence that childhood maltreatment contributes to the development of adult psychopathology (Brown & Anderson, 1991; Johnson, Cohen, Brown, Smailes, & Bernstein 1999; Johnson, Smailes, Cohen, Brown, & Bernstein, 2000; Ruggiero et al., 1999). However, the identification of childhood maltreatment remains a methodological problem that results in inconsistencies in the reported incidence and psychological sequelae of maltreatment. A primary method for identifying histories of childhood maltreatment among adults is retrospective self-report measures which are susceptible to multiple biases (Briere, 1992; Cicchetti & Rizley, 1981; Shaffer, Huston, & Egeland, 2008). This present study suggests that childhood maltreatment can be assessed using a projective measurement called the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) as it has been shown to provide less biased information regarding personality pathology associated with a history of childhood abuse (Toth, Cicchetti, Macfie, & Emde, 1997). The present study assessed the utility of a new scoring system for the TAT (Comprehensive Assessment of the Thematic Apperception Test (CATAT)) (Cohen, 2016) for distinguishing adult inpatients with a history of childhood maltreatment from those without. The results indicated that the CATAT has the potential to be an excellent tool for assessing childhood abuse in inpatient populations but requires further development. Particularly, the CATAT demonstrated the most potential to assess for childhood emotional abuse.