Shame, Dissociation, and Complex PTSD Symptoms in Traumatized Psychiatric and Control Groups: Direct and Indirect Associations With Relationship Distress

Martin Dorahy, Mary Corry, Rebecca S A Black, Laura Matheson, Holly Coles, David Curran, Lenaire Seager, W. (Warwick) Middleton, Kevin Dyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objectives: Elevated shame and dissociation are common in dissociative identity disorder (DID) and chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are part of the constellation of symptoms defined as complex PTSD. Previous work examined the relationship between shame, dissociation, and complex PTSD and whether they are associated with intimate relationship anxiety, relationship depression, and fear of relationships. This study investigated these variables in traumatized clinical samples and a nonclinical community group.

Method: Participants were drawn from the DID (n = 20), conflict-related chronic PTSD (n = 65), and nonclinical (n = 125) populations and completed questionnaires assessing the variables of interest. A model examining the direct impact of shame and dissociation on relationship functioning, and their indirect effect via complex PTSD symptoms, was tested through path analysis.

Results: The DID sample reported significantly higher dissociation, shame, complex PTSD symptom severity, relationship anxiety, relationship depression, and fear of relationships than the other two samples. Support was found for the proposed model, with shame directly affecting relationship anxiety and fear of relationships, and pathological dissociation directly affecting relationship anxiety and relationship depression. The indirect effect of shame and dissociation via complex PTSD symptom severity was evident on all relationship variables.

Conclusion: Shame and pathological dissociation are important for not only the effect they have on the development of other complex PTSD symptoms, but also their direct and indirect effects on distress associated with relationships.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Volume72
Issue number7
Early online date11 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 11 Jul 2016

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