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Title: Attachment, dissociation and social support
Author: Higgon, John
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1999
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Whilst transient dissociative states are commonplace in the face of overwhelming traumatic events, long-standing dissociative phenomena are also frequently reported in adults who have childhood histories of severe sexual or physical abuse. Dissociation itself may take a number of forms, including isolation, adsorption, fragmentation and memory disturbance: the relative importance of environmental and personality variables in determining an individual's "style" of dissociation is unclear, although there is good evidence for a cumulative effect, such that dissociation in the face of trauma is most frequent in individuals who have also suffered childhood abuse. Bowlby's attachment theory may help to explain the relationship between social support, dissociative phenomena and traumatic events in childhood and adulthood. Attachment theory is a theory of affect regulation which proposes that individuals make use of social and cognitive strategies in their attempts to manage negative affect. These strategies are thought to be selected on the basis of an individual's childhood experiences with caregivers and are maintained through the operation of relatively stable "internal working models". Social support is widely cited as a protective factor mitigating against the development of psychopathology following exposure to trauma, but it is unclear whether social support directly protects against the effects of trauma, or whether both perceived social support and adaptation to trauma reflect underlying attachment patterns, as suggested by attachment theory. This thesis examines the relationship between attachment pattern and (i) tendency to experience particular dissociative states and (ii) use made of available social support. Two groups were recruited. These were (i) control subjects with no history of treatment for psychological problems, and (ii) out-patient psychology department attendees with a broad range of psychological problems. Measures of attachment, social support, dissociation, exposure to life events and mood were administered. The results are presented and discussed in light of current theories of attachment, social support and dissociation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available