Dissociation in Individuals Denying Trauma Exposure: Findings From Two Samples


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Abstract

A number of studies suggest that dissociation is reliably related to trauma exposure, and that inadequate regulation of posttraumatic distress may be a significant factor. We examined whether affect dysregulation predicts dissociation in those denying any lifetime exposure to trauma. These relationships were evaluated in a general population sample and a second sample of nontraumatized university students. In the first study, multivariate analyses indicated that, along with gender, affect dysregulation was a relatively strong predictor, accounting for 27% of the variance in dissociation. In the replication study, dissociation was associated with affect dysregulation, but not gender. Affect dysregulation seems to predict dissociative symptomatology in nontraumatized individuals. It is hypothesized that emotional distress, whether from trauma or other etiologies, motivates dissociation to the extent that it challenges the individual’s compromised capacity for affect regulation. Treatment implications may include the potential helpfulness of interventions that increase emotion regulation skills.

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