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Title: The enemy in the mirror: self-perception-induced stress results in dissociation of psychological and physiological responses in patients with dissociative disorder
Author(s): Eva Schäflein, Heribert Sattel, Ulrike Schmidt and Martin Sack
Journal: European Journal of Psychotraumatology
Year: 2018
Month: June
Day: 18
Volume: 9
Issue: sup3
Pages: 1472991
Affiliation: Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2018.1472991
ISSN: 2000-8198
File URL: /vuams-pubs/The_enemy_in_the_mirror_self_perception_induced_stress_results_in_dissociation_of_psychological_and_physiological_responses_in_patients_with.pdf
Keywords: Autonomic nervous system; avoidance; dissociative disorder; face in the mirror; impedance cardiography; mirror-confrontation; parasympathetic; posttraumatic stress disorder; self-perception; sympathetic
Abstract: Background: Patients suffering from dissociative disorders (DD) are characterized by an avoidance of aversive stimuli. Clinical experience has shown that DD patients typically avoid the confrontation with their own faces in a mirror (CFM). Objective: To investigate potential CFM-associated self-reported and psychophysiological stress reactions of DD patients, which most likely inform on the still unknown pathophysiology of dysfunctional self-perception in DD. Method: Eighteen DD patients and 18 healthy controls (HCs) underwent CFM. They were assessed for CFM-induced subjective self-reported stress, acute dissociative symptoms and sympathetic and parasympathetic drive using impedance cardiography. Results: DD patients experienced more subjective stress and acute dissociation than HCs upon CFM. Their psychological stress response did not activate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Conclusions: In DD patients, CFM constitutes serious self-reported stress and is associated with a blunted autonomic reactivity. Therapeutic approaches promoting self-perception and self-compassion, in particular by using CFM, might serve as goal-oriented diagnostic and therapeutic tools in DD.

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