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J Trauma Dissociation. 2012;13(1):32-50. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2011.608628.

Prior peritraumatic dissociative experiences affect autonomic reactivity during trauma recall.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA.


To better understand the psychophysiological correlates of peritraumatic dissociation (PD), the present study examined the relationship between reports of prior PD and sympathetic and parasympathetic functioning in response to a laboratory stress paradigm in 39 traumatized female undergraduates. Participants were asked to talk about their most distressing traumatizing experience while continuous measures of heart rate, pre-ejection period, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia were taken. Overall, high dissociators had significantly larger increases in heart rate and larger decreases in pre-ejection period and respiratory sinus arrhythmia during trauma recall. In opposition to our hypothesis, these results suggest that female trauma victims reporting high levels of PD during a prior trauma may be more reactive to traumatic reminders than victims who report lower levels of PD.

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