The unreal self: A psychophysiological and psychological examination of dissociative body experiences in non-clinical samples

Dewe, Hayley Louise (2018). The unreal self: A psychophysiological and psychological examination of dissociative body experiences in non-clinical samples. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines the neurocognitive biases of body-specific emotional processing in those predisposed to latent biases of depersonalization / derealization (DP/DR) experience. DP/DR is characterised by dissociative feelings of self-consciousness and dulled emotional experience. Emotional arousal was recorded via psychophysiological measures (skin conductance responses: SCRs, and body temperature) in relation to salient, body-related stimuli consisting of aversive simulated body-threats (e.g. injection procedures and fingernail removal). Body-threats were delivered either directly to the participant’s body, observed on a second individual present in the same room, or observed via dynamic movie clips. The principal findings across all empirical studies demonstrated significantly reduced emotional arousal (SCRs) to aversive body-threats in those predisposed to DP/DR experiences. That is, emotional suppression was observed for body-threats delivered to the “self” (participant’s own body), and when observed on “others” in the same room and via movie clips. Crucially, this suppression was specific to aversive body-threat stimuli, and was not observed for baseline (non-body-related) stimuli or measures of baseline / anticipatory arousal. Body-temperature was not mediated by DP/DR experience. Collectively, this work significantly extends previous research and theoretical accounts of DP/DR by utilising aversive body-related stimuli to demonstrate selective biases of emotion regulation in non-clinical instances of DP/DR.

Warning: Please be advised, the content presented in this research thesis contains discussion and images of threatening and violent behaviours (simulated scenarios) toward a human body (i.e. blood / gore, knives and injection procedures) that some individuals may find unpleasant, offensive, or distressing

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry


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