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Is dissociation a fundamental component of ICD-11 Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

ICD-11 Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) is a disorder of six symptom clusters including reexperiencing, avoidance, sense of threat, affective dysregulation, negative self-concept, and disturbed relationships. Unlike earlier descriptions of complex PTSD, ICD-11 CPTSD does not list dissociation as a unique symptom cluster. We tested whether the ICD-11 CPTSD symptoms can exist independently of dissociation in a nationally representative sample of adults ( N  = 1,020) who completed self-report measures. Latent class analysis was used to identify unique subsets of people with distinctive symptom profiles. The best fitting model contained four classes including a "low symptoms" class (48.9%), a "PTSD" class (14.7%), a "CPTSD" class (26.5%), and a "CPTSD + Dissociation" class (10.0%). These classes were related to specific adverse childhood experiences, notably experiences of emotional and physical neglect. The "PTSD," "CPTSD," and "CPTSD + Dissociation" classes were associated with a host of poor health outcomes, however, the "CPTSD + Dissociation" class had the poorest mental health and highest levels of functional impairment. Findings suggest that ICD-11 CPTSD symptoms can occur without corresponding dissociative experiences, however, when CPTSD symptoms and dissociative experiences occur together, health outcomes appear to be more severe.

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