Reactive dissociative experiences in response to acute increases in shame feelings

Martin J. Dorahy, Hadyn McKendry , Amber Scott, Kumar Yogeeswaran, Andy Martens, Donncha Hanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)
233 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Studies have not examined if a direct causal relationship exists between shame and dissociation. The current research examined whether increases in dissociation were evident following exposure to acute shame feelings induced via narrative scripts of shame-evoking situations. Following Gilbert’s (1998) differentiation between external and internal shame, participants heard shame-inducing or emotionally neutral stories in conditions designed to heighten (1) external shame, (2) internal shame or (3) general shame. In study 1, using a student sample (N = 78), dissociation as measured by the Modified Peritraumatic Dissociation Questionnaire was elevated during the shame script compared to the neutral script regardless of the type of shame participants were exposed to. A strong correlation was found between trait shame and trait dissociation. In study 2, using a treatment-attending sample (N = 33) and assessing intrusions in the two days following the script exposure, participants again demonstrated an increase in acute dissociative experiences during the shame script compared to the neutral script regardless of the type of shame evoked. Intrusions were present for the shame narrative with the distress they caused related to acute (peri-experimental) dissociation. Elevations in shame feelings produced a reactive response in dissociative experiences, which may heighten the distress associated with shame-filled intrusions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume89
Early online date15 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

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