Detachment Versus Compartmentalisation: Priming and Intrusion Levels after Listening to an Anxiety-Arousing Auditory Report
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
During traumatic events, individuals can experience dissociative symptoms related to changes in cognitively processing; these changes are suggested to impact on the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Past literature has proposed two forms of peritraumatic dissociation (compartmentalisation and detachment), however little quantitative research has focussed on separately manipulating these experiences in order to further our understanding of their aetiology. The current study addressed this knowledge gap and additionally sought to understand the role of cognitive processing in the dissociation-intrusion relationship. Using an audio-only adaption of the trauma film paradigm, 60 participants were divided into three conditions and presented with different visual tasks - mirror staring, dot-staring or neutral images – that were hypothesised to induce the two forms of dissociation. Post-audio, a number of factors were assessed, including state dissociation, perceptual priming and conceptual priming, as well as intrusions over the following days. As hypothesised, participants in the dissociation conditions displayed an increase in perceptual priming compared the control conditions, and reported more severe intrusions. However, no differences were found in conceptual priming, in the overall number of intrusions between conditions, or in dissociative symptoms between the dissociation conditions. The current study utilised new techniques in the analysis of PTSD and its origins, and showed their potential in the experimental study of dissociation and analogue trauma techniques. The findings also contributed to the growing body of knowledge investigating the impact that dissociation and cognitive processing has on the aetiology of PTSD.