What is it about?

In response to overwhelming emotion people sometimes experience a phenomenon known as "dissociation." When dissociating people feel like they or the world around them seems strange, unreal, or far away. This study showed that feeling shame leads to dissociation especially when a person consciously tries to avoid thinking about a difficult memory.

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Why is it important?

Dissociation is a transdiagnostic symptom associated with symptom severity and treatment resistance in people with mental health problems. It is most often studied as a consequence of experiencing potentially traumatic events, including interpersonal victimization. Dissociation has also been associated with high levels of shame, but it is unclear whether shame causes a person to dissociate. This study is important because it demonstrates that shame leads to dissociation.


This article is the result of my master's thesis. This was the first time I developed an experimental paradigm from the ground up with the support of an incredible team of mentors (the co-authors). I hope reading this article inspires other young investigators and deepens their understanding of dissociation. Lastly, a big thank you to the participants who shared their stories and feelings. It takes such bravery and work!

Nicole Kouri

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Shame-induced dissociation: An experimental study of experiential avoidance., Psychological Trauma Theory Research Practice and Policy, January 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/tra0001428.
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