Dissociation: An insufficiently recognized major feature of complex posttraumatic stress disorder

Department of Clinical Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Journal of Traumatic Stress (Impact Factor: 2.72). 10/2005; 18(5):413-23. DOI: 10.1002/jts.20049
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The role of dissociation in (complex) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been insufficiently recognized for at least two reasons: the view that dissociation is a peripheral, not a central feature of PTSD, and existing confusion regarding the nature of dissociation. In this conceptual article, the authors address both issues by postulating that traumatization essentially involves some degree of division or dissociation of psychobiological systems that constitute personality. One or more dissociative parts of the personality avoid traumatic memories and perform functions in daily life, while one or more other parts remain fixated in traumatic experiences and defensive actions. Dissociative parts manifest in negative and positive dissociative symptoms that should be distinguished from alterations of consciousness. Complex PTSD involves a more complex structural dissociation than simple PTSD.


Available from: Onno van der Hart, May 29, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A dissociative subtype has been recognized based on the presence of experiences of depersonalization and derealization in relation to DSM-IV posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the dissociative subtype has not been assessed in a community sample in relation to the revised DSM-5 PTSD criteria. Moreover, the 20-item PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) currently does not assess depersonalization and derealization. We therefore evaluated two items for assessing depersonalization and derealization in 557 participants recruited online who endorsed PTSD symptoms of at least moderate severity on the PCL-5. A five-class solution identified two PTSD classes who endorsed dissociative experiences associated with either 1) severe or 2) moderate PTSD symptom severity (D-PTSD classes). Those in the severe dissociative class were particularly likely to endorse histories of childhood physical and sexual abuse. A principal axis factor analysis of the symptom list identified six latent variables: 1) Reexperiencing, 2) Emotional Numbing/Anhedonia, 3) Dissociation, 4) Negative Alterations in Cognition & Mood, 5) Avoidance, and 6) Hyperarousal. The present results further support the presence of a dissociative subtype within the DSM-5 criteria for PTSD.
    European Journal of Psychotraumatology 01/2015; 6:26406. · 2.40 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Military sexual trauma (MST) has recently received much attention from the media in contemporary society. With the ever-increasing population of United States service members returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it is vital for any mental health practitioner to be aware of the epidemic that is sexual assault in the military, the unique trauma experiences of the MST survivor, and treatment implications incorporating multiple psychological theories. This article explores three factors, referred to as the trauma trifecta, in which the effects of MST are exacerbated: the loss of professional and personal identity, the regulatory functions of self harm behaviors, and the retraumatization that many service members endure as a result of the distinctive characteristics of the military culture and its service to veterans. A case study with clinical interventions will be utilized to demonstrate this concept of "the trauma trifecta" and the unique challenges in treating the PTSD symptoms that can result from MST in clinical therapy. Drawing from multiple theories in clinical treatment, this paper illustrates the strengths and limitations of cognitive-behavioral techniques, highlights the integration of feminist theory to illustrate the obstacles of power structures, and mind-body interventions, bridging the gap between talk therapy and body therapy. Through this unique integration of multiple therapies, the case study illustrates the veteran's reengagement with her body and the reformulation of her identity post MST.
    Clinical Social Work Journal 09/2014; 42(3):247-259. DOI:10.1007/s10615-014-0479-0 · 0.27 Impact Factor