Trauma and anxious attachment influence the relationship between suggestibility and dissociation: a moderated-moderation analysis

Wieder, Lillian and Terhune, Devin Blair. 2019. Trauma and anxious attachment influence the relationship between suggestibility and dissociation: a moderated-moderation analysis. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 24(3), pp. 191-207. ISSN 1354-6805 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Introduction: Hypnotic suggestibility is elevated in the dissociative disorders but the relationship between dissociative tendencies and suggestibility in the general population seems to be constrained by additional factors. The diathesis-stress (DS) model stipulates that suggestibility interacts with trauma exposure to augment the propensity for dissociative states whereas the dual pathway to suggestibility (DPS) model proposes two developmental routes involving either dissociation preceded by trauma, or a healthy cognitive profile characterized by superior imagination.

Methods: This study sought to discriminate between these partially competing accounts and further considered the moderating role of anxious attachment. 209 participants completed psychometric measures of dissociative tendencies, trauma, and attachment, and a behavioural measure of suggestibility.

Results: In support of the DS model, trauma moderated the relationship between suggestibility and dissociation and, as predicted by the DPS model, dissociation moderated the relationship between trauma and suggestibility. Anxious attachment additionally moderated both effects. Model comparisons indicated that the DS model consistently provided a superior fit to the data. Further analyses showed that secure attachment independently predicted suggestibility, thereby supporting the non-dissociative pathway in the DPS model.

Conclusions: These results suggest that high suggestibility confers vulnerability to dissociative states in individuals exposed to trauma and displaying an anxious attachment style.

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attachment, dissociative disorders, heterogeneity, hypnotizability, trauma

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1 April 2019Accepted
16 April 2019Published Online
May 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

03 Apr 2019 11:58

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 18:44

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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