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J Trauma Dissociation. 2016 Oct-Dec;17(5):577-592. Epub 2016 Apr 4.

Dissociation mediates the relationship between childhood maltreatment and subclinical psychosis.

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a Department of Psychology , University of Southampton , Southampton , United Kingdom.
b Greenwood Mentors , Ryde , United Kingdom.


More than a third of the population report childhood adversity, and these experiences are associated with an increased risk of clinical and subclinical psychosis. The reason why some people go on to develop mental health problems and others do not is a key question for study. It has been hypothesized that dissociative processes mediate the relationship between early adversity and psychosis. The current study assessed whether dissociation, and specifically depersonalization (one component of dissociation), plays a mediating role in the relationship between childhood maltreatment and both hallucination proneness and delusional ideation. The study used a cross-sectional design and recruited a student sample to assess these relationships in a nonclinical group. Dissociation mediated the relationship between early maltreatment and both hallucination proneness and delusional ideation. In terms of specific dissociative processes, depersonalization did not mediate hallucination proneness or delusional ideation. Absorption mediated hallucination proneness; dissociative amnesia (negatively) and absorption mediated delusional ideation. It is likely that dissociation interferes with the encoding of traumatic information in nonclinical as well as clinical groups and in certain ways. Absorption may be particularly relevant. For some people, traumatic memories may intrude into conscious awareness in adulthood as psychotic-type experience.


Childhood adversity; childhood maltreatment; delusional ideation; depersonalization dissociation; hallucination proneness; psychosis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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