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Mentalization and dissociation in the context of trauma: Implications for child psychopathology

Ensink, K; Bégin, M; Normandin, L; Godbout, N; Fonagy, P; (2016) Mentalization and dissociation in the context of trauma: Implications for child psychopathology. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation , 18 (1) pp. 11-30. 10.1080/15299732.2016.1172536. Green open access

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Abstract

Dissociation is a common reaction subsequent to childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and has been identified as a risk factor for child psychopathology. There is also evidence that mentalization contributes to resilience in the context of abuse. However, at this stage little is known regarding the relationship between mentalization and dissociation, and their respective contributions to psychopathology. The aim of this study was to examine pathways from CSA to depressive symptoms, externalizing behaviour difficulties and sexualized behaviour, through mentalization and dissociation. These pathways were examined in a sample of 168 mother-child dyads including 74 dyads where children (aged 7–12) had histories of sexual abuse. Maternal mentalization was assessed using the Parent Development Interview-Revised and children’s mentalization was assessed using the Child Reflective Functioning Scale. Children completed the Child Depression Inventory and parents completed the Child Dissociative Checklist, the Child Behavior Checklist and the Child Sexual Behavior Inventory. Direct and indirect paths from CSA to child psychopathology via children’s mentalization and dissociation were examined using Mplus. Two distinct paths from abuse to psychopathology were identified. Child mentalization partially mediated the relationship between CSA and depressive symptoms. The effects of CSA on externalizing symptoms and sexualized behaviour difficulties were sequentially mediated through mentalisation and dissociation.

Type: Article
Title: Mentalization and dissociation in the context of trauma: Implications for child psychopathology
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/15299732.2016.1172536
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15299732.2016.1172536
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation on [date of publication], available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15299732.2016.1172536
Keywords: Mentalization, dissociations, child externalizing difficulties, depression, sexualization
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1478068
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