Background: Two aetiology models for dissociative identity disorder (DID) have been proposed, namely a childhood Trauma Model and an iatrogenic or Fantasy model. A recent study indicated that sleep disturbances underlie dissociative symptomatology. Objective: Our current study aims to test whether this finding can be replicated in an independent sample and to investigate if this finding still holds after correcting for childhood and adult traumatization. An experimental working memory task is included to investigate how sleep disturbance, traumatization, dissociation, and fantasy proneness impact cognitive functioning. Methods: Three groups of participants were included–individuals with DID, individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and matched healthy controls. Sleep disturbances were measured and compared between the groups along with measures of childhood and adult traumatization, psychoform and somatoform [psychological and somatic] dissociative symptoms, and fantasy proneness. Cognitive capacity was assessed using a working memory task. Results: When controlled for traumatic experiences, sleep disturbances did not predict dissociative symptoms. When controlled for sleep disturbance and fantasy proneness, childhood traumatization did predict dissociative symptoms. Psychoform dissociative symptoms correlated with traumatic experiences more than with fantasy proneness. Working memory performance was similar among the participating groups. Propensity to fantasy did not discriminate individuals with DID and PTSD, and was a weak predictor of dissociative symptoms. Conclusion: Whereas DID and PTSD are associated with sleep disturbances, these features do not statistically predict dissociative symptoms in these disorders when traumatic experiences are taken into account. Fantasy proneness is not excessive in DID and PTSD. Hence, we found no evidence that sleep disturbances, propensity to fantasy and abnormal working memory capacity explain dissociative symptoms in DID and PTSD. In sum, the relationship between sleep and dissociative symptoms disappeared when potentially traumatizing events were controlled for.
Dimitrova, L., Fernando, V., Vissia, E. M., Nijenhuis, E. R. S., Draijer, N., & Reinders, A. A. T. S. (2020). Sueño, trauma, fantasía y cognición en el trastorno de identidad disociativo, trastorno de estrés postraumático y controles sanos. Un estudio de replicación y extensión. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 11(1), . https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2019.1705599