Orientation to bodily signals is defined as the way somatic sensations are attended, perceived and interpreted. Research suggests that trauma exposure, particularly the pathological reaction to trauma (i.e., PTSD), is associated with catastrophic and frightful orientation to bodily signals. However, little is known regarding the long-term ramifications of trauma exposure and PTSD for orientation to bodily signals. Less is known regarding which PTSD symptom cluster manifests in the 'somatic route’ through which orientation to bodily signals is altered. The current study examined the long-term implications of trauma and PTSD trajectories on orientation to bodily signals. Fifty-nine ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs) and 44 controls were assessed for PTSD along three time-points (18, 30 and 35 years post-war). Orientation to bodily signals (pain catastrophizing and anxiety sensitivity–physical concerns) was assessed at T3. Participants with a chronic PTSD trajectory had higher pain catastrophizing compared to participants with no PTSD. PTSD symptom severity at T2 and T3 mediated the association between captivity and orientation. Among PTSD symptom clusters, hyperarousal at two time-points and intrusion at three time-point mediated the association between captivity and orientation. These findings allude to the cardinal role of long-term PTSD in the subjective experience of the body following trauma.
- Anxiety sensitivity
- Orientation to bodily signals
- Pain catastrophizing