The role of dissociation, conceptual processing and PTSD symptoms in analogue distressing narratives.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Current theories of PTSD have proposed that enhanced perceptual processing and impaired conceptual processing contribute to PTSD symptoms. However, few studies have provided evidence for the role of conceptual processing during trauma. Dissociation may also be related. This study investigated whether artificially-induced dissociation impaired conceptual processing and increased the risk for PTSD symptoms. One hundred and sixty-six University students were exposed to a spinning dot (dissociation) condition, a moving picture condition or a sit quietly (control) condition at baseline, encoding and retrieval phases. They listened to a distressing narrative designed to simulate trauma (TFP-A) and recalled the narrative three days later. A word-cue association task was performed to measure conceptual priming. The induction failed to produce heightened dissociation in the spinning dot group, so spontaneous dissociation during encoding and retrieval was used as the independent variable. No differences were observed in conceptual priming across groups. In addition, no relationship was found between dissociation and analogue flashbacks, although dissociation was related to heightened distress of intrusions. The findings suggest that conceptual processing has a complex relationship with dissociation that requires further investigation.