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Title: Emotional processing and psychosocial factors in individuals diagnosed with dissociative seizures
Author: Pick, Susannah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 1466
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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The thesis presents research exploring emotional processing and psychosocial factors in individuals diagnosed with dissociative seizures (DS). Initially, clinical, biological, and psychosocial correlates of DS are discussed, in addition to theoretical perspectives on the disorder. This is followed by a review of previous research investigating dissociation and emotional processing in DS. A novel model of the triggering mechanism underlying DS is proposed, and the rationale, aims, general hypotheses and overall methodology are outlined. Four empirical quantitative studies are then described, in which the DS group were compared to healthy control participants. A study of psychosocial factors, based on self-report questionnaires, generally confirmed/extended findings from previous studies. Patients with DS reported elevated depression, anxiety, post-traumatic symptoms, borderline personality features, and psychological and somatoform dissociation. Higher rates and greater impact of adverse life events were also reported by the DS group. Contrary to expectations, no group differences in childhood family functioning were observed. Another study utilising an emotional Stroop paradigm revealed the presence of a preconscious attentional bias towards emotional facial expressions in DS patients. A related experimental investigation of explicit facial affect processing elicited evidence of a deficit in facial expression recognition in the DS sample, alongside reduced autonomic responding to the stimuli in a subgroup of patients. A further experimental study explored patients’ affective responses to visual images. Whilst there were no group differences in subjective emotional responses on this task, autonomic responding was elevated in a subgroup of patients. Qualitative techniques were used in the final study, which explored emotional experiences in a subsample of patients. The findings provided phenomenological insights into patients’ understanding of these processes. The findings are drawn together and discussed, and the proposed triggering model is presented in a modified form in the final chapter.
Supervisor: Goldstein, Laura Hilary Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available