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Dissociative experiences as mediators between childhood trauma and auditory hallucinations


  • This work was carried out as part of research project PSI2009-09453, subsidized by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology.


The purpose of this work was to study the relationship between reported traumatic experiences in childhood and positive psychotic symptoms. We hypothesized that dissociative experiences were potential mediators between childhood trauma and hallucinations, but not delusions. The sample comprised 71 patients diagnosed with psychoses. They were assessed with the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES-II; Carlson & Putnam, 1993), a questionnaire on trauma (TQ; Davidson, Hughes, & Blazer, 1990), and the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS; Kay, Opler, & Lindenmayer, 1988) delusions and hallucinations items. The results showed that childhood trauma was positively associated with the dissociation scale scores (r = .40) and also the hallucination (r = .36) and delusions scale scores (r = .32). Furthermore, it was demonstrated that the dissociation variable was a potential mediator between childhood trauma and hallucinations, but not between childhood trauma and delusions. Of the 3 DES-II factors, only depersonalization showed a mediating relationship between childhood trauma and hallucinations. The main conclusion is that the impact of childhood trauma on hallucinations may not simply be direct, but mediated by dissociative experiences, especially depersonalization. Clinical implications are also briefly discussed.