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Keywords:

  • borderline personality disorder;
  • childhood trauma;
  • dissociation;
  • somatization disorder;
  • suicidal ideation

Aim:  This study was concerned with correlates of suicidal ideation among patients with chronic complex dissociative disorders.

Method:  Participants were 40 patients diagnosed as having either dissociative identity disorder or dissociative disorder not otherwise specified according to the DSM-IV. The Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule, the Dissociative Experiences Scale, the Somatoform Dissociation and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaires, the Spielberger Trait Anger Inventory, the Beck Suicidal Ideation Scale, and the Borderline Personality Disorder section of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders were administered to all patients.

Results:  Patients with suicidal ideas (n = 15) had concurrent somatization disorder more frequently than the remaining patients. Having significantly high scores on both trait and state dissociation measures, their dissociative disorder was more severe than that of the patients with no suicidal ideation. They had elevated scores for childhood emotional abuse, physical abuse and emotional neglect. Concurrent somatization disorder diagnosis was the only predictor of suicidal ideation when childhood trauma scores and borderline personality disorder diagnosis were controlled.

Conclusions:  Among dissociative patients, there is an association between somatization and suicidal ideation. A trauma-related insecure attachment pattern is considered as a common basis of this symptom cluster.