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A study investigating the relationship between psychological distress and dissociative experiences

Watson, Laura (2012) A study investigating the relationship between psychological distress and dissociative experiences. York St John University.


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Individuals suffering from dissociative disorders have been found to also have high levels of psychological distress in the form of depression, anxiety and stress. Non-clinical levels of dissociation have also been found to be related to depression, anxiety and stress yet to a lesser extent. There are a number of scales that have been deemed appropriate for testing psychological distress and dissociative experiences, therefore, the present study investigated the impact depression, anxiety and stress has on dissociative experiences using two of these scales, the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale (DASS) and the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES). 135 students between the age of 18 and 26 from a University in North Yorkshire firstly provided demographic details such as their age, gender, university course and year of study and then went on to complete the DASS and the DES. The results showed that depression and anxiety significantly predicted the experiences of dissociation yet stress did not predict dissociative experiences. However, analysis of the participants according to whether they scored above or below the DES proposed cut-off point for risk of dissociative disorders, illustrated that those who scored above the cut-off value were significantly more depressed, anxious and stressed than those who scored below it. These findings support previous research that suggests depression, anxiety and stress are significantly related to high levels of dissociative experiences and supports research that suggests depression and anxiety is related to dissociative experiences in general however, the findings oppose research that suggests stress is significantly related to dissociative experiences at all levels. Suggestions for practical applications of these findings are stated and recommendations for future research are defined.

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