Types of Trauma in Adolescence and Their Relation to Dissociation: A Mixed-Methods Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective:
To study adolescent traumatization and the impact of various types of trauma on dissociative experiences in a sample of 239 Swedish youngsters, 13 to 20 years of age, with diverse socioeconomic and migration backgrounds. We also evaluated whether the type of worst lifetime trauma was associated with higher rates of dissociation.

Method:
Quantitative and qualitative data on posttraumatic stress, dissociative experiences, and potentially traumatic events (PTEs), including participants' written descriptions of their worst lifetime trauma.

Results:
Most (92%) of the participants had been exposed to at least 1 PTE and 51% to 4 or more, during their life. Number of PTEs correlated with symptoms of posttraumatic stress and dissociation. There were higher rates of dissociation among economically vulnerable and second-generation war refugee participants. Emotional abuse by others (mostly peers) was the only significant predictor of dissociation when controlling for gender, age, total PTEs, posttraumatic stress, and poverty. Moderation analyses showed that lifetime worst traumas categorized as primarily emotional moderated and amplified the relation between total PTEs and dissociation, but only among girls.

Conclusions:
Our findings indicate that traumatization is very common among adolescents, with greater prevalence of dissociation among vulnerable groups, and that emotional traumas are linked to higher rates of dissociation, especially among girls. Researchers, clinicians, and school personnel need to focus more on immigrant status and low SES as vulnerability factors, and address the consequences of emotional abuse, including bullying, among adolescents.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology

Keywords

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-576
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes