Dissociation and pain perception : an experimental investigation
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Dissociative symptoms and abnormalities in pain perception have been associated with a range of disorders. We tested whether experimentally induced increases in state dissociation would cause an analgesic response, and whether this effect would be moderated by participants' history of trauma and dissociative experiences. Participants (n=120) were classified based on their histories of traumatic and dissociative experiences: No trauma or dissociation (NN), trauma without dissociation (TN), or trauma with dissociation (TD). All participants were randomized to a dissociation induction condition via audiophotic stimulation or a credible control condition and were compared on prepost changes in subjective pain and pain tolerance in response to a standard cold-pressor test. Unexpectedly, dissociation induction did not lead to greater pain tolerance or reduced self-reported pain. However, increases in state dissociation significantly predicted increased immersion time and decreased subjective pain.