R. van Dyck
- The relationship between dissociative proneness and alexithymia.
- Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
- Volume | Issue number
- 71 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Background: Dissociative reactions and alexithymia are two strategies that have been put forward as coping mechanisms to alleviate painful emotions. It is the clinical impression that dissociation is related to certain alexithymia features. In line with the coping hypothesis, it was predicted that the relationship between dissociative tendencies and alexithymia would be partly mediated by current levels of stress and/or by past traumatic experiences. Furthermore, dissociation may also be related to enhanced fantasizing, although alexithymia has traditionally been associated with an incapacity to fantasize. Methods. Data were obtained from 833 non-clinical participants on dissociative tendencies, alexithymia, childhood abuse, current stress and socially desirable behavior. Correlation. analyses followed by multiple regression were performed. Results. Dissociative tendencies appeared to be especially related to one alexithymic feature: a difficulty in identifying feelings. This relationship was partially mediated by levels of current stress. A history of trauma did not predict dissociation measures. Furthermore, highly dissociative participants were more fantasy prone than low-dissociative participants. Conclusions. The results of this study support the idea that in a nonclinical group dissociation may provide a. way to cope with current stressful events, and that this is associated with a difficulty in identifying feelings. It is argued that two types of dissociation may exist, one trait-like type of dissociation that is associated with fantasy proneness and other related factors, and a trauma-related type of dissociation that is more apparent within the clinical range.
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