Exploring the Adaptiveness of Moderate Dissociation in Response to Betrayal Trauma

Janae Chavez


Freyd‟s (1996) betrayal trauma theory posits that evolutionarily important attachment bonds make dissociation in response to trauma more likely when a relationship exists between victim and perpetrator. This dissociation, despite its immediate benefits in regards to attachment, is commonly thought to have harmful consequences over time. However, although negative mental and physical sequelae may result from chronic dissociation, it may also continue to serve a protective function in regards to attachment. This online study explores the relationship between dissociation, resiliency, betrayal trauma, and attachment using self-report questionnaires with a college student sample (400 participants, 68.7% female). We hypothesized that participants with moderate dissociation would be more resilient to childhood abuse and utilize multiple attachment strategies. Results revealed that higher dissociation was associated with poorer resiliency scores, although in a curvilinear analysis very high dissociative scores correlated with higher resiliency. Dissociation did not seem to be related to attachment; however, participants with a history of betrayal trauma were associated with more variability in attachment styles. These findings are particularly relevant because it could inform attachment theory and the effects of trauma on attachment.


attachment; trauma; dissociation; resilience

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5399/uo/ourj.1.1.1556


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