Clinical studies of patients with dissociative disorders and prospective studies of childhood trauma survivors show inconsistent findings regarding the relationship between childhood trauma and dissociation. This study aims to resolve this inconsistency by investigating how dissociation is related to parental dysfunctions, general psychopathology, childhood trauma, and adulthood trauma. Specifically, we focus on the role of cumulative traumatization in pathological and non-taxon dissociation. Eighty acute psychiatric inpatients were administrated standardized measures on dissociation, perceived parental dysfunctions, traumatizing events, and general psychopathology. Parental dysfunctions and trauma correlated with both types of dissociation and general psychopathology. When general psychopathology and parental dysfunctions were controlled, a unique link between trauma and dissociation remained significant. Moreover, the pattern of relationships differed for non-taxon and pathological dissociations. The effect of childhood but not adulthood trauma was significant on non-taxon dissociation. In contrast, an interactive model incorporating both childhood and adulthood trauma was the best model for explaining pathological dissociation. Childhood trauma is important for developing non-taxon dissociation, and adulthood trauma exacerbates its effects on the emergence of pathological dissociation. Cumulative traumatization from childhood to adulthood should be incorporated into the trauma hypothesis of pathological dissociation.
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