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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes theoretical models and empirical research devoted to understanding the aftermath of childhood trauma exposure and discusses the value of considering posttraumatic stress from an emotion dysregulation perspective. After describing definitional controversies in the field related to both trauma and posttraumatic stress, this chapter summarizes research on the effects of chronic, prolonged, and repeated traumatic experiences in childhood, such as maltreatment, with particular attention to its potential to compromise development of adaptive emotion regulation capacities. The role of emotion dysregulation in leading theoretical models of posttraumatic stress is presented, as well as empirical research testing the hypothesis that emotion dysregulation represents an underlying developmental mechanism through which childhood trauma affects functioning over the lifespan. Future directions include a need for clarification in conceptualization and measurement, further developmental processes to be considered, and opportunities for translational work to inform intervention efforts.

Keywords: emotion dysregulation, trauma, posttraumatic stress, PTSD, maltreatment, allostasis, LHPA axis, gene-environment interaction, overmodulation, undermodulation

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