Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Aoife O'Laoide and Jonathan Egan
Psychological Society of Ireland Annual Conference
What was once essential, may become detrimental: The mediating role of depersonalisation in the relationship between childhood emotional maltreatment and later psychological well-being
Conference Organising Committee Chairperson
Optional Fields
Background:Depersonalisation (DP) is a dissociative phenomenon,characterised by feeling “unreal”, spaced-out, or detached from one’s own emotions, thoughts and behaviour (DSM-5; APA, 2013). Transient DP experiences are common in the general population. DP is considered a defense mechanism, employed in response to overwhelming events, whereby emotions are suppressed in order to increase alertness within a situation. DP is the third most common psychiatric symptom following depression and anxiety, and has been found to be co-morbid within these presentations. Childhood emotional maltreatment has been identified as a precipitant of DP. The key aim of this study was to examine the mediating role of DP in the relationship between childhood emotional maltreatment and later psychological distress in young adults. In addition, other psychological factors related to DP were explored, principally current attachment and emotional expression. Method:This cross-sectional study included young adults (N= 761) aged between 18-25 years. Participantscompleted an online survey that comprised of anumber of self-report measures, specifically examiningdepersonalization,childhood abuse,psychological distress, current attachment and attitude towards emotional expression.Results:Regression and mediation analyses were conducted. The main results indicated that: (1) DP significantly mediated the childhood emotional maltreatment –current psychological distress relationship and; (2) that emotional maltreatment, attachment-related anxiety and negative attitudes towards emotional expression predicted clinical cut-off levels of DP in young adults. Conclusion:The main finding proposed that young people who have a history of emotional maltreatment are more likely to experience higher levels of psychological distress via depersonalization. Additionally, the study confirmed the predisposing role of emotional maltreatment in later DP experiences.
Publication Themes
Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy, Humanities in Context