Desire to dissociate: Implications for problematic drinking in college students with childhood or adolescent sexual abuse exposure

Alicia Klanecky, Dennis E. McChargue, Lindsay Bruggeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Alcohol use to replace inadequate dissociative capabilities, or chemical dissociation, has been linked to college students with childhood or adolescent sexual abuse (CASA). Insofar as CASA-exposed persons experience a restricted range of dissociative capabilities, what remains relatively unclear is whether some desire to achieve greater dissociative experiences. Nonclinical levels of dissociative tendencies have positively predicted alcohol-related blackouts in CASA-exposed students, and dissociation mediated the relations between CASA and intoxication frequency. Although alcohol (similar to dissociation) can reduce physiological and psychological responses to stress, alcohol consumption may be prompted by a desire to dissociate rather than inadequate dissociative tendencies alone. To investigate this interpretation of the chemical dissociation phenomenon, researchers examined the mediating potential of dissociative tendencies using the Dissociative Experiences Scale-II (DES-II) as well as the desire to dissociate concept (ie, a modified version of the DES-II) on the relations between CASA exposure and problematic alcohol use in college students (N = 298). Results indicated that dissociation scores did not replicate previous mediation findings whereas desire to dissociate scores fully mediated CASA exposure and problematic alcohol use. Implications of the results are discussed including possible reasons why prior mediation results were not replicated as well as links to experiential avoidance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-256
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal on Addictions
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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