The role of dissociation in encoding and retrieval of an analogy trauma narrative : implications for understanding posttraumatic stress disorder. (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Science
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Only a portion of people who experience a traumatic event go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One avenue to reduce the significant impact of PTSD is to understand the underlying mechanisms of the development of PTSD. Peritraumatic dissociative experiences around the time of trauma predict the development and maintenance of PTSD. Following a small amount of recent work, the current study aimed to further investigate the impact of peri-experimental dissociation during the encoding and retrieval phases of an analogue traumatic narrative. One hundred and fifty-six university students were designated to one of three visual conditions: watching a spinning dot (dissociation), watching pictures (comparison), or no visual stimuli (control) at three stages of the experiment (baseline, encoding, and recall). At encoding, participants listened to an analogue trauma narrative and were asked to recall the narrative three days later, while concurrently watching visual stimuli (or control) at both phases. Peri-experimental dissociation was successful at baseline as predicted yet failed to produce dissociation at encoding and recall. Spontaneous dissociation was therefore used at encoding and recall as the independent variable. An intrusion diary was used to measure intrusions and revealed an increase in frequency but not distress of intrusions for those with higher dissociation. The word-cue association task and word-stem completion task measuring perceptual and conceptual priming did not reveal any differences between groups. No differences were evident across dissociation groups for narrative details or coherence. The findings suggest that dissociation during encoding may not have an impact on narrative elaboration or structure, at least for analogue trauma with university student participants.