Dissociation in patients with non-affective psychosis: prevalence, symptom associations, and maintenance factors
Cernis E., Molodynski A., EHLERS A., FREEMAN D.
Dissociation is problematic in its own right for patients with psychosis but may also contribute to the occurrence of psychotic experiences. We therefore set out to estimate in a large cohort of patients with psychosis the prevalence of dissociative experiences, and assess using network models the relationships between dissociation, its potential maintenance mechanisms, and mental health symptoms. 902 patients with non-affective psychosis attending UK mental health services participated. Both an undirected model and a partially directed network model were estimated to identify potential relationships between ‘felt sense of anomaly’ dissociative experiences, paranoia, hallucinations, psychological wellbeing, sleep, and six potential maintenance mechanisms (affect intolerance, perseverative thinking, general self-efficacy, alexithymia, cognitive appraisals, and cognitive-behavioural responses to dissociation). 617 patients (65.4%) had experienced at least one dissociative symptom regularly over the past fortnight, with the average number experienced being 8.9 (SD=8.0). Dissociation had direct relationships with paranoia, hallucinations, low psychological wellbeing, cognitive appraisals, cognitive-behavioural responses to dissociation, perseverative thinking, and low alexithymia. Dissociation was a probable cause of hallucinations (94.21% of 50,000 sampled directed acyclic graphs), with a trend towards also being a cause of paranoia (86.25% of 50,000 sampled directed acyclic graphs). Approximately two-thirds of patients with psychosis experience regular dissociative experiences. Dissociation is associated with low psychological wellbeing, and it is likely to have a direct causal influence on psychotic symptoms. Catastrophic cognitive appraisals, cognitive-behavioural responses to dissociation, factors related to affect sensitivity, and perseverative thinking may contribute to the occurrence of dissociation.