The Link from Child Abuse to Dissociation: The Roles of Adult Disorganized Attachment, Self-Concept Clarity, and Reflective Functioning. Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study of 624 adult participants from the general population (i.e., a community sample), we examine adult disorganized attachment, a construct that can now be measured on a self-report scale, and its linkage between child abuse to dissociation. Prior research has demonstrated that child abuse is positively associated with adult disorganized attachment, which in turn is linked to a variety of externalizing and internalizing behaviors (e.g., depression, anxiety) in adulthood. Based on the literature regarding self-concept, we further consider that having an integrated sense of self is crucial in examining how having an adult disorganized attachment could result in dissociative symptoms. We consider two measures representing an unintegrated sense of self - self-concept clarity and reflective functioning - and find that both play a role in moderating the mediating effects of adult disorganized attachment. Specifically, lower levels of clarity were associated with higher levels of dissociation in our sample, and reflective functioning played a more nuanced and complex role in examining moderated mediation in our sample. Overall, using moderated mediation analysis, we found support for our hypotheses.

published proceedings

  • J Trauma Dissociation

altmetric score

  • 14

author list (cited authors)

  • Paetzold, R. L., & Rholes, W. S.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Paetzold, Ramona L||Rholes, W Steven

publication date

  • January 2021