Date of Conferral
Emotional impairment can lead to emotional disorders or dysfunction. Childhood abuse or neglect can be used to predict disorders and dysfunction. Missing from the literature was research exploring a direct relationship between a history of abuse or neglect and future emotional impairment. This quasi-experimental study served to examine whether histories of childhood abuse or neglect can be used to predict future emotional impairment using the Mayer and Salovey model of emotional functioning. A community sample of 138 adults from rural Wyoming completed retrospective reports of childhood trauma and current measures of emotional functioning, and 42% of the sample reported a history of childhood emotional abuse. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated childhood emotional abuse was not a valid predictor of impaired emotional functioning, while the covariates of physical neglect and sexual abuse were significant predictors. A history of childhood physical neglect could be used to predict lower measures in emotional understanding and global emotional functioning, while sexual abuse in males could be used to predict lower measures in emotional regulation and global emotional functioning. The new knowledge that childhood abuse or neglect can impair emotional functioning during adulthood provides a pathway for researchers to further explore the detrimental impact of childhood abuse and neglect on emotional functioning during the developmental years. In addition, for those individuals with a history of childhood abuse or neglect, positive social change may stem from gains in emotional understanding, emotional regulation, and global emotional functioning through improved interventions, preventative methods, and efficacious treatments.