Trauma-Related Altered States of Consciousness in Undergraduate Students

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Abstract

The four-dimensional (4-D) model of trauma-related dissociation differentiates between experiences of clinically significant distress that do versus do not intrinsically exemplify trauma-related altered states of consciousness (TRASC) often associated with childhood trauma histories. The present study investigated the hypotheses of the 4-D model in association with a relational, socioecological assessment of childhood history of familial maltreatment in young adults. Undergraduate students (n = 288) reported on childhood traumatic experiences and current psychological symptoms. Consistent with predictions of the 4-D model, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms indicative of TRASC, in comparison with distress occurring in normal waking consciousness (NWC), were: (a) endorsed less frequently, (b) coendorsed less often, and (c) more strongly correlated with total scores on the Dissociative Symptoms Scale (DSS). The strength of correlations with retrospectively self-reported early histories of childhood adversity and traumatic experience varied by the type of adverse childhood experience assessed, and also by the familial relationship with the perpetrator. Limitations of the current study and future directions are discussed.

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