Childhood trauma and dissociation as factors affecting adult male sexual offending behaviour
This study examined childhood trauma and dissociation as possible factors affecting adult male sexual offending behaviour. The issue of personality disorder was also explored in relation to dissociation. Two groups of participants were involved in the investigation, a group of convicted rapists (n = 34), and a non-clinical control group (n = 45). Participants completed the Dissociative Experiences Scale (Bernstein & Putnam, 1986), the Special Hospitals Assessment of Personality and Socialisation (Blackburn, 1982) and the Social History Questionnaire (Hillbrand, Foster & Hirt, 1988). The present study found a higher prevalence of childhood abuse reported among the prison group (52.94 per cent) than that cited in previous studies of incarcerated rapists. Correlational investigations revealed the following results: i) as predicted, significantly greater levels of dissociation were reported in the prison population than in the control population. ii) as expected, dissociation was positively correlated with childhood trauma in the prison group. The result for the control group yielded a positive yet not significant correlation. iii) although the relationship between dissociation and personality disorder (as ascertained by the SHAPS) was in a positive direction, it was not statistically significant for the prison group. This relationship was found to be significant for the control group. Possible implications regarding the treatment of sexual offenders in the light of these results are discussed. Recommendations for further psychological research in this area are included. This thesis also contains three small scale research projects completed during placements in Learning Disabilities, Elderly and Child.