Peritraumatic dissociation and physiological response to trauma-relevant stimuli in Vietnam combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder


A recent study found that female rape victims with acute posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who received a high score on the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire exhibited suppression of physiological responses during exposure to trauma-related stimuli. The goal of our present study was to test whether the same relationship holds true for male Vietnam combat veterans with chronic PTSD, using secondary analyses applied to data derived from a Veteran's Affairs Cooperative Study.

Vietnam combat veterans (N = 1238) completed measures to establish combat-related PTSD diagnostic status, extent of PTSD-related symptomatic distress, and presence of dissociative symptoms during their most stressful combat-related experiences. Extreme subgroups of veterans with current PTSD were classified as either low dissociators (N = 118) or high dissociators (N = 256) based on an abbreviated version of the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire.

Dependent variables reflected subjective distress along with heart rate, skin conductance, electromyographic, and blood pressure data when responding to neutral and trauma-related audiovisual and imagery presentations. Veterans in the current PTSD group had significantly higher dissociation scores than did veterans in the lifetime and never PTSD groups. Among veterans with current PTSD, high dissociators reported greater PTSD-related symptomatic distress than did low dissociators, but the groups did not differ with respect to physiological reactivity to the trauma-related laboratory presentations.

Our results replicate the previously reported relationship between peritraumatic dissociation and PTSD status in Vietnam combat veterans. However, we found no association between peritraumatic dissociation and the extent of physiological responding to trauma-relevant cues in male veterans with chronic combat-related PTSD.

Kaufman, Milissa L. B.S., Kimble, Matthew O. Ph.D, Kaloupek, Danny G. Ph.D., Mcteague, Lisa M. B.A., Bachrach, Peter Ph.D., Forti, Allison M. B.A., Keane, Terence M. Ph.D. | 2002
In: The Journal of nervous and mental disease, ISSN 0022-3018 | 190 | 3 | Mar | 167-174
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Yzermans collectie