University of Tasmania
whole_DavisCaroline2005_thesis.pdf (6.87 MB)

Dissociation : the process of distress management in situational crisis

Download (6.87 MB)
posted on 2023-05-26, 19:29 authored by Davis, Caroline
The following paper reviews the literature on the well established link between traumatic experience and dissociation (Doharty, Lewis, Miller, & Gee, 2003; Putnam, 1995) which has led to the development of theories suggesting dissociation serves a protective role against the enormity of the event. While this is a popular theory there is limited empirical evidence to support the premise. Some preliminary research has suggested that peritraumatic dissociation results in arousal reduction (Griffin, Resick & Mechanic, 1997, Williams, Haines & Sale, 2003) and corresponding reduction in distress (Williams et al., 2003). It is suggested that peritraumatic dissociation mediates distress management in situational crisis (Griffin et al., 1997; Williams et al., 2003, Diskin & Hodgins, 2001) rather than a more general propensity to dissociate as suggested by others (Butler, 1996). The current empirical study investigates this suggestion using a four stage guided imagery methodology. Psychological and psychophysiological responses to imagery of traumatic and stressful events were recorded for participants divided on the basis of (1) dissociative propensity and, (2) peritraumatic dissociation. No significant results were found when participants were divided on the basis of dissociative capacity suggesting that a tendency to experience dissociative capacity is not related to the use of a dissociative coping style in the face of stress or trauma. When differences between experiences of peritraumatic dissociation were considered, participants experiencing high levels of peritraumatic dissociation reported greater unreality levels throughout both traumatic and stressful events. There was no corresponding distress or arousal reduction. It is concluded that peritraumatic dissociation may be viewed as a more generalised stress response. More research is needed to investigate the dissociative stress response.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Psych.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager