Insult, then Injury: Interpersonal and Institutional Betrayal Linked to Health and Dissociation

Carly P. Smith, Jennifer J. Freyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Psychological trauma, particularly trauma involving betrayal, has been linked to health problems. Betrayal trauma is also characterized by dissociation and difficulty remembering as victims face conflicting demands presented by a harmful but important relationship. Institutional betrayal is related to, but distinct from, interpersonal betrayal and in need of research on its unique effects. The current study has two related goals. First, the association between institutional betrayal and health problems is examined. Second, the previously documented association between institutional betrayal and dissociative symptoms is re-examined, while controlling for betrayal trauma. This study utilizes a sample of 302 college students (70% female, 63% Caucasian) who reported their trauma history (Brief Betrayal Trauma Survey), institutional betrayal history (Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire), distress related to health problems (Patient Health Questionnaire), and dissociative symptoms (Wessex Dissociation Scale). We found that institutional betrayal is uniquely associated with both health problems and dissociative symptoms even when controlling for betrayal trauma exposure. Findings add to the understanding of how institutional betrayal is uniquely associated to trauma-related physical and mental health outcomes. Small effect sizes, likely due to low base rates of health problems and dissociative symptoms in college students, and problems generalizing these results to clinical samples are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1117-1131
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Volume26
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 26 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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