Childhood Trauma and Active Mental Processes: Dissociation and Metacognition Influence Control of Negative Thoughts

Document Type


Publication Date



Among trauma survivors, efforts to control distressing thoughts may be linked with dissociation. We examined the hypothesis that dissociation was related to metacognitive need to control thoughts (NCT); and explored dissociation and NCT as mediators between trauma and thought control techniques in a sample of college students. Dissociation was positively related to NCT and to childhood betrayal trauma (abuse by someone close to the victim). Dissociation and NCT mediated the relationship between childhood betrayal trauma and strategies used to control negative thoughts. Overall, childhood betrayal trauma was associated with NCT and with the use of active thought control methods such as reappraisal and worry, which require focusing directly on the thought; dissociation mediates this relationship. Therapeutic approaches that enhance awareness for cognitive and emotional experiences may be helpful for dissociative trauma survivors.