The impact of dissociation, shame, and guilt on interpersonal relationships in chronically traumatized individuals: A pilot study*


  • Martin J. Dorahy

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Canterbury and Belmont Private Hospital
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, and The Cannan Institute, Belmont Private Hospital
    • Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, 8041, New Zealand
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  • *

    This article was edited by the journal's Editor-Elect, Daniel S. Weiss.

    Some findings from this article were presented at the 26th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Washington, DC, November 2009.

    The author would like to thank Professor Onno van der Hart and Dr. Fiona Bailey for their helpful comments on this article.


The aim of this study was to systematically examine the impact of shame, guilt, and dissociation on interpersonal relationships. Study 1 assessed 81 participants attending a trauma-related treatment service with the Structured Interview for Disorders of Extreme Stress and the Community and Interpersonal Connectedness Scale. Study 2 assessed 21 traumatized participants from the same service with the above measures, as well as the Dissociative Experiences Scale. Lifetime shame and current dissociation made significant contributions to relationship disconnectedness, with dissociation having the most significant impact in all analyses. Both dissociation and shame appear to have a severing effect on interpersonal relationships.

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