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Trauma, symptomology, and meaning in life: a comparison between clinical samples and healthy controls


Research has shown that people who report living meaningful lives are better able to cope with trauma, integrate the past, present, and future into a guiding narrative, and report higher levels of self-esteem and life-satisfaction (Baumeister et al., 2013). Most research to date has examined meaning in life among psychologically healthy individuals, with a very limited number of studies examining meaning in life among psychologically disordered individuals. The current study seeks to address this gap in the literature by comparing levels of meaning in life between a sample of individuals diagnosed with eating disorders and OCD (n=101) and comparing it with data from a nationally representative control group (n=2014). This study also examined how meaning in life related to symptom severity and trauma history within the clinical sample and proposed that presence of meaning may moderate the relationship between trauma history and symptom severity. Results revealed significant differences between the clinical and control group in levels of both presence of meaning and search for meaning. However, meaning in life did not significantly relate to symptom severity or trauma history in this sample. Implications and future directions for research are discussed.


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eating disorder
symptom severity


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