University of Tasmania

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An examination of the frequency of dissociation in traumatic grief

posted on 2023-05-26, 16:43 authored by Lum, GB
The study and treatment of pathological grief occurs in an environment in which there is no agreed set of criteria for pathological grief. The primary aim of this thesis is to determine whether or not a relationship exists between Traumatic Grief (TG), dissociation, and general psychological distress. The purpose of this study is to investigate if dissociation is more frequent in those bereaved that meet criteria for TG compared to those bereaved who do not. It also aims to establish if those bereaved with a history of traumatic life events dissociate more frequently and report greater general psychological distress than those with no history or with a history of lesser stressful life events. Participants who experienced bereavement were recruited from a newspaper article, self help groups, bereavement counselling services and first year psychology lectures. On the basis of their scores on the Inventory of Traumatic Grief and the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale, 49 participants were divided into one of three clinical groups labelled Control, PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) and TG+PTSD (Traumatic Grief and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). The frequency of dissociative experiences, level of general psychological distress and degree of traumatic life experiences were measured from their responses to the Dissociative Experiences Scale, the General Health Questionnaire-28 and the Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire respectively. The findings showed that dissociative frequency and general psychological distress were found to be significantly greater in those who met symptom criteria for TG+PTSD. General psychological distress was also found to be greater in those who only met the symptom criteria for PTSD. No significant differences in the kind and quality of experiences of traumatic life events were found between the clinical groups, although the PTSD group showed a trend towards experiencing a greater severity of traumatic life events than did the Control. It was found that a history of multiple traumatic life events was associated with an increase in dissociative frequency and PTSD symptom severity. No association was found between the number of traumatic life events reported by participants and their level of general psychological distress. It is concluded that those with TG, when compared with other bereaved persons, have significantly more dissociative experiences. The results also indicate that dissociation and the severity of PTSD symptoms in the bereaved, is associated with a history of multiple, interpersonal traumatic life events. The findings of this thesis suggest that TG and PTSD may stem from the same psychological construct.


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Copyright 2010 the author Thesis (MPsych(Clin))--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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