Trauma and dissociation in China

Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Aug;163(8):1388-91. doi: 10.1176/ajp.2006.163.8.1388.


Objective: In order to determine whether pathological dissociation occurs in China, the authors conducted a survey among psychiatric inpatients, outpatients, and the general population in Shanghai, China. There is virtually no popular or professional knowledge of dissociative identity disorder in China, and therefore professional and popular contamination cannot exist.

Method: Chinese versions of the Dissociative Experiences Scale and the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule were administered to 423 inpatients, 304 outpatients, and 618 factory workers in Shanghai by Chinese psychiatrists working at the Shanghai Mental Health Center.

Results: Dissociative disorders were diagnosed in 24 respondents by structured interview, and 15 respondents fell into the dissociative taxon on the Dissociative Experiences Scale. The outpatients reported the highest rates of childhood physical and/or sexual abuse and of pathological dissociation.

Conclusions: Pathological dissociation can be detected readily among psychiatric outpatients in China but is much less common in the general population. Pathological dissociation is more frequent in more traumatized subsamples of the Chinese population. The findings are not consistent with the sociocognitive, contamination, or iatrogenic models of dissociative identity disorder.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Asians / psychology*
  • Asians / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • China / epidemiology
  • China / ethnology
  • Community Mental Health Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Comorbidity
  • Culture
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / epidemiology
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data