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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 45 (2003) 4, 211 - 219

Review article

Peritraumatic dissociation as a predictor of posttraumatic stress disorder: a critical note

I. Candel, H. Merkelbach

background  In the literature, dissociation at the time of a traumatic event (peritraumatic dissociation) is considered as a risk factor for the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  To conduct a critical survey of the literature on the relation between peritraumatic dissociation and (PTSD).
  The literature on peritraumatic dissociation and PTSD was reviewed with the help of PsycINFO and Medline. Studies concerning peritraumatic dissociation were compared with current opinions concerning reports compiled by the patients themselves.
  Studies on the relation between peritraumatic dissociation and PTSD rely on retrospective reports compiled by the patients themselves. However, people in general and PTSD-patients in particular are unable to give accurate descriptions of the emotional negative experiences they had during a traumatic event. Their reports are adversely affected by factors such as forgetting, attribution, and malingering.
  In view of the methodology that is generally used in studies on peritraumatic dissociation, it is doubtful whether there is in fact a causal link between peritraumatic dissociation and PTSD.



keywords peritraumatic dissociation, posttraumatic stress disorder, retrospective reports, trauma