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Dissociation : the process of distress management in situational crisis


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Davis, Caroline 2005 , 'Dissociation : the process of distress management in situational crisis', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The following paper reviews the literature on the well established link between traumatic
experience and dissociation (Doharty, Lewis, Miller, & Gee, 2003; Putnam, 1995) which
has led to the development of theories suggesting dissociation serves a protective role
against the enormity of the event. While this is a popular theory there is limited
empirical evidence to support the premise. Some preliminary research has suggested that
peritraumatic dissociation results in arousal reduction (Griffin, Resick & Mechanic, 1997,
Williams, Haines & Sale, 2003) and corresponding reduction in distress (Williams et al.,
2003). It is suggested that peritraumatic dissociation mediates distress management in
situational crisis (Griffin et al., 1997; Williams et al., 2003, Diskin & Hodgins, 2001)
rather than a more general propensity to dissociate as suggested by others (Butler, 1996).
The current empirical study investigates this suggestion using a four stage guided
imagery methodology. Psychological and psychophysiological responses to imagery of
traumatic and stressful events were recorded for participants divided on the basis of (1)
dissociative propensity and, (2) peritraumatic dissociation. No significant results were
found when participants were divided on the basis of dissociative capacity suggesting that
a tendency to experience dissociative capacity is not related to the use of a dissociative
coping style in the face of stress or trauma. When differences between experiences of
peritraumatic dissociation were considered, participants experiencing high levels of
peritraumatic dissociation reported greater unreality levels throughout both traumatic and
stressful events. There was no corresponding distress or arousal reduction. It is concluded
that peritraumatic dissociation may be viewed as a more generalised stress response.
More research is needed to investigate the dissociative stress response.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Davis, Caroline
Keywords: Crisis management, Dissociation (Psychology), Distress (Psychology), Stress management
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Psych.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

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