Trauma-related self-defining memories and future goals in Dissociative Identity Disorder.

This study examined the content of self-defining autobiographical memories in different identities in patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and comparison groups of patients with PTSD, healthy controls, and DID simulators. Consistent with the DID trauma model, analyses of objective ratings showed that DID patients in trauma identities retrieved more negative and trauma-related self-defining memories than DID patients in avoidant identities. Inconsistent with the DID trauma model, DID patients’ self-rated trauma-relatedness of self-defining memories and future life goals did not differ between trauma identities and trauma avoidant identities. That is, the DID patients did not seem to be “shut off” from their trauma while in their avoidant identity. Furthermore, DID patients in both identities reported a higher proportion of avoidance goals compared to PTSD patients, with the latter group scoring comparably to healthy controls. The simulators behaved according to the instructions to respond differently in each identity (i.e., to report memories and goals consistent with the identity tested). The discrepant task behavior by DID patients and simulators indicated that DID patients did not seem to intentionally produce the hypothesized differences in performance between identities. In conclusion, for patients with DID (i.e., in both identities) and patients with PTSD, trauma played a central role in the retrieval of self-defining memories and in the formulation of life goals.

Rafaële J.C. Huntjens, Ineke Wessel, Brian D. Ostafin, Paul A. Boelen, Friederike Behrens, Agnes van Minnen | 2016
87 | december | 216–224
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