Dissociative symptoms and how they relate to fantasy proneness in women reporting repressed or recovered memories

E.G. Geraerts*, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, M. Jelicic, E. Smeets, J. van Heerden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Women with repressed or recovered memories have raised levels of dissociative symptoms. There are two interpretations of this. One emphasizes the defensive function of dissociation, while the other emphasizes the overlap between dissociation and fantasy proneness. This study aimed to investigate these two interpretations. Women with repressed (n = 16), recovered (n = 23), and continuous memories (n = 55) of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and control participants (n = 20) completed measures of self-reported childhood trauma, depressive symptoms, trait anxiety, dissociation, and fantasy proneness. Women reporting repressed, recovered, and continuous CSA memories did not differ in self-reported childhood trauma, depression, and trait anxiety, but all scored significantly higher on these measures than the control group. However, contrast analyses revealed that women reporting repressed and recovered CSA memories also scored higher on dissociation than did those reporting either continuous CSA memories or no history of abuse. Our results further revealed that women who report CSA memories, whether repressed, recovered or continuous, have raised fantasy proneness levels. Hence, we found no support for the idea that dissociative symptoms can be fully accounted for by fantasy proneness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1151
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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