Disgust in PTSD

Alyssa C. Jones, C. Alex Brake, Christal L. Badour

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Disgust is a universally experienced negative emotion that evolved from a basic response designed to protect us from ingesting potentially harmful substances to a broader response aimed at distancing us from any stimuli with the potential to harm our physical, psychological, or moral well-being. Emerging research demonstrates a critical role for disgust in traumatic events that involve exposure to potential contaminants (e.g., blood, vomit, and disease), death and decay, betrayal, and sexual or moral violation. Disgust has been linked to symptoms of PTSD and a range of other trauma-related outcomes including mental contamination (i.e., internal feelings of dirtiness in the absence of a physical contaminant), moral injury (i.e., injury to an individual's moral conscience resulting from a perceived transgression of deeply held moral beliefs), obsessive-compulsive disorder, sexual aversion, substance use, and suicidal behavior. This chapter offers considerations for clinical assessment and treatment of trauma-related disgust and considers future directions for research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmotion in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Subtitle of host publicationEtiology, Assessment, Neurobiology, and Treatment
Number of pages27
StatePublished - Feb 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved..


  • Disgust
  • Mental contamination
  • Moral injury
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-disgust
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)


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