Psychological Injury and Law

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 131–142

Assessing Latent Level Associations Between PTSD and Dissociative Factors: Is Depersonalization and Derealization Related to PTSD Factors More So than Alternative Dissociative Factors?

  • Cherie Armour
  • Ateka A. Contractor
  • Patrick A. Palmieri
  • Jon. D. Elhai

DOI: 10.1007/s12207-014-9196-9

Cite this article as:
Armour, C., Contractor, A.A., Palmieri, P.A. et al. Psychol. Inj. and Law (2014) 7: 131. doi:10.1007/s12207-014-9196-9


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) criteria in DSM-5 included a dissociative diagnostic subtype characterized by a depersonalization item and a derealization item. Researchers have queried whether this was too restrictive, as alternative dissociative symptomatology may also be characteristic of the subtype. The current study utilized data from 318 Northern Irish students, of which 165 were trauma exposed. Participants were assessed for PTSD symptomatology based on DSM-5 criteria via a modified version of the PTSD Symptom Scale-Self-Report (PSS-5) and dissociative experiences via the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES). Confirmatory factor analysis of PTSD and DES models revealed an optimal four-factor DSM-5 PTSD model including reexperiencing, avoidance, negative alterations in mood and cognitions, and alterations in hyperarousal and reactivity factors, and an optimal three-factor DES model including absorption, amnesia, and depersonalization/derealization factors. When comparing the correlations between depersonalization/derealization and the four PTSD factors, significant Wald tests of parameter constraints revealed that depersonalization/derealization is more related to alterations in arousal and reactivity (r = .432) compared to avoidance (r = .289), χ2 (1, N = 165) = 8.352, p = .004. We discuss whether the mechanism for comorbid PTSD and dissociation may be related to PTSD’s arousal factor.


Confirmatory factor analysisPosttraumatic stress disorderDissociationDSM-5Dissociative Experiences Scale

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cherie Armour
    • 1
  • Ateka A. Contractor
    • 2
  • Patrick A. Palmieri
    • 3
  • Jon. D. Elhai
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Psychology, Coleraine CampusUniversity of UlsterNorthern IrelandUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA
  3. 3.Center for the Treatment and Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of PsychiatrySumma Health SystemAkronUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychology, and Department of PsychiatryUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA