Cognitive fusion and post-trauma functioning in veterans: Examining the mediating roles of emotion dysregulation

Daniel W. Cox, Thomas C. Motl, A. Myfanwy Bakker, & Rachael A. Lunt

When cognitively fused, people have difficulty accepting and clearly perceiving their internal experiences. Following trauma, emotional non-acceptance and emotional non-clarity have been associated with post-trauma functioning. The aim of the present study was to integrate theory and research on cognitive fusion and post-trauma functioning to evaluate a theory-based model in which emotion dysregulation—specifically, emotional non-acceptance and emotional non-clarity—mediated the association between cognitive fusion and post-trauma functioning in a veteran sample. Participants were 149 veterans with a history of military-related trauma. Veterans completed measures of cognitive fusion, emotion dysregulation, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and life satisfaction. Overall, emotion dysregulation and PTSD symptoms mediated the fusion-post-trauma functioning association in theoretically consistent ways. More specifically, fusion was related to PTSD through emotional non-clarity and fusion was related to goal dysregulation through emotional non-acceptance and PTSD. Our findings indicate that fusion impacts different aspects of post-trauma functioning through different mediators. How these different pathways could impact clinical decision making are discussed.

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