Mental contamination, disgust, and other negative emotions among survivors of sexual trauma: Results from a daily monitoring study

C. Alex Brake, Jordyn M. Tipsword, Christal L. Badour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mental contamination (MC)—feelings of dirtiness triggered by internal sources—is a potentially important yet understudied factor for survivors of sexual trauma. MC has been linked to disgust and other negative emotions (e.g., shame, guilt) cross-sectionally and in lab-based paradigms but not yet examined in ecological contexts. Additionally, links between MC and distinct negative emotions have not been studied systematically. The present study thus modeled relationships between MC and specific emotions both across and within days over a daily monitoring period. Forty-one females with sexual trauma history and associated MC completed twice-daily assessments of MC and seven emotions (disgust, shame, guilt, anger, hopelessness, sadness, anxiety) over 2 weeks via a smartphone app. Baseline MC and average daily MC were largely associated with higher daily averages of negative emotions. Concurrently, within-person changes in MC and negative emotions were also positively linked. Unexpectedly, intraindividual changes in MC were largely not associated with later negative emotions, whereas several emotions were negatively associated with later MC. Notably, MC among screened sexual trauma survivors was much more prevalent compared to prior research. Clinical relevance and future recommendations for ecological research in trauma-related mental contamination are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102477
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume84
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Brake received support to conduct this project from the Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky . This project was also supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through grant number UL1TR001998 at the National Institute of Health (NIH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or of the Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women.

Funding Information:
Dr. Brake received support to conduct this project from the Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky. This project was also supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through grant number UL1TR001998 at the National Institute of Health (NIH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or of the Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Disgust
  • Ecological assessment
  • Mental contamination
  • Negative emotion
  • Sexual trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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