In clinical literature, dissociative complaints are generally considered to be the result of traumatic experiences. However, it has been argued that dissociative complaints, in turn, may indulge overreporting of traumatic experiences. Hence, correlations between dissociation and self-reported trauma may not only reflect the causal path from trauma to dissociation, but possibly also an increased trauma-item endorsement due to dissociation. To test the idea that dissociation fosters a positive response bias on trauma self-reports, participants completed a dissociation scale, and subsequently rated the perceived traumaticness of ambiguous stimuli. Results indicated that some dissociative complaints indeed predicted increased scores on the trauma ratings, while other manifestations of dissociation were negatively correlated with perceived trauma ratings. Hence, there is reason to argue that people differ in their readiness to perceive a situation as traumatic. However, the association between self-reported dissociation and the perception of 'trauma' is not quite clear-cut.

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Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology
Erasmus School of Law