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An investigation of trauma, dissociation and insecure attachment styles in the context of psychosis


Project Description

The proposed mixed-methods PhD aims to explore the impact of trauma, dissociation and insecure attachment styles in people who experience from psychosis. Psychosis can be a distressing mental health condition associated with experiences, such as paranoia and voice-hearing as well difficulties with motivation, social relationships and activities of daily living. It is now well-established that life experiences play a role in determining vulnerability to psychosis and that experience of traumatic life events in childhood may play a particularly pertitnent role. There has consequently been a growing emphasis in the field of psychosis research of trying to identify factors which may mediate (or explain) the association between psychosis and trauma. Two potentially important candidate mechanisms that have been identified are dissociation and attachment styles. Dissociation is defined as the lack of normal integration of thoughts, feelings and experiences into the stream of consciousness and memory and is common conceptualised to develop in response to mentally overwhelming trauma. Attachment is defined as an affectional bond, which the individual forms with a significant other, who is approached in response to distress and as a result of abuse or neglect from earlier caregivers, individuals can experience disruptions in the attachment system which impact on how they regulate emotions and form relationships with others in adulthood.

The applicant will recruit people with a diagnosis of psychosis via NHS mental health services and voluntary organisations. The study will involve asking people to complete questionnaires or standardised mental health assessments about symptoms, experiences of trauma, disassociation and attachment styles. We will explore associations between measures cross-sectionally and over time. The longitudinal analyses will involved following people up over periods of 6-12 months but also over shorter time periods using Experience Sampling Methodology.

Training/techniques to be provided:

- Systematic reviewing and meta analysis
- Clinical interviewing
- Experience Sampling Methodology
- Multi level statistical modelling
- Public and patient involvement in research

Funding Notes

A minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in psychology. Candidates with experience in mental health or with an interest in people diagnosed with psychosis are encouraged to apply.

This project has a Band 1 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).

Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.

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