Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 84 Issue 3 (September 2011), Pages 237-348

Emotion regulation difficulties are relevant to persecutory ideation (pages 273-287)

Objectives. Persecutory delusions are preceded and accompanied by negative emotions, which may be prolonged or even amplified by difficulties in the ability to regulate negative emotions. This study aims to gain insight into emotion regulation difficulties in persecutory ideation.

Design and method. A correlational approach was adopted to explore bivariate and multivariate associations between emotion regulation difficulties and persecutory ideation in a subclinical sample. Furthermore, general psychopathology as well as positive symptoms of schizophrenia were assessed in order to estimate the specificity of emotion regulation difficulties. Data from 151 participants acquired via an Internet‐based survey were analyzed.

Results. There were substantial bivariate correlations between paranoid ideation and emotion regulation difficulties. However, only impulse control difficulties were specific to persecutory ideation after controlling for general psychopathology. Additionally, a multivariate analysis revealed unexpected positive associations between the acceptance of emotional responses and paranoid ideation as well as positive symptoms.

Conclusions. Besides the general difficulties in regulating emotion that are common to many clinical disorders and were associated with overall psychopathology, subclinical psychotic symptoms seem to be specifically associated with certain aspects of emotion regulation. Emotion regulation difficulties are likely to contribute to symptom formation and maintenance in persecutory delusions and might therefore present a valuable treatment target.

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