The Loss of the Self in Memory: Self-Referential Memory, Childhood Relational Trauma, and Dissociation

Chui De Chiu, Marieke S. Tollenaar, Cheng Ta Yang, Bernet M. Elzinga, Tian Yang Zhang, Hoi Lam Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The segregated representations pertinent to childhood relational trauma have long been posited as a key pathogenic mechanism for dissociation. Yet, the weak to moderate correlation of child maltreatment with dissociation proneness leads to the question about which factors may moderate the impact of adverse childhood interpersonal experiences and work synergistically in the genesis of dissociation. We hypothesized that self-referential memory may play a role and that low accessibility to self-referenced representations may obstruct the ongoing synthesis of self representations, leaving these unassimilated early experiences disintegrated and inimical to mental function in response to a stressful situation. This hypothesis was examined by two experiments in college students. The first experiment showed the association between dissociation proneness and low accessibility to self-referenced representations. The second demonstrated that low accessibility to self-referenced representations moderated the link between childhood relational trauma and dissociation proneness. Weakened self-referential memory matters in the link between trauma and dissociation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-282
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology

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