Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 74 Issue 4 (December 2001), Pages 419-553

The effect of dissociation at encoding on intrusive memories for a stressful film (pages 467-472)

The occurrence of memory intrusions after a trauma has been linked to peri‐traumatic dissociation. In this study, we attempted to induce dissociation experimentally and investigate the impact on intrusive memories. A total of 39 undergraduates were randomly assigned to watch a stressful film under standard conditions or under a dual‐task condition in which they simultaneously performed a tapping task. They rated their distress post‐film and again after 2 weeks, and kept a diary of intrusive memories. Contrary to prediction, there were no differences in levels of distress or explicit memory between the two conditions, and the dual‐task condition was followed by significantly fewer memory intrusions. Dual‐task conditions may not provide a good analogue to naturally occurring dissociation. The possible preventive effects of the tapping task are discussed in terms of the dual‐representation theory of post‐traumatic stress disorder.

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