Dissociation as depicted in the traumatic event drawings of child sexual abuse survivors: A preliminary study

Galit Amir, Rachel Lev-Wiesel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The proposed study aims to investigate whether dissociation-defined as a disturbance or alteration of the usually integrated functions of identity, memory or conscious [American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.).Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.] - can be depicted within drawings of the "traumatic event" drawn by survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Twenty-seven drawings, drawn by childhood sexual abuse survivors were collected from therapists after clients signed informed consent forms. Following the completion of drawing the "traumatic event", the Self Report version of the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire (PDEQ; [Marmar, C. R., Weiss, D. S., & Metzler, T. J. (1997). The Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire. In J. P. Wilson, & T. M. Keane (Eds.), Assessing psychological trauma and PTS.D. (pp. 412-428). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.]) was administered. Drawings were analyzed by two practitioners according to the five dissociative symptom categories [Steinberg, M. (1997). Assessing posttraumatic dissociation with the structured clinical interview For DSM-IV dissociative disorders. In J. P.Wilson, & T. M. Keane (Eds.), Assessing Psychological Trauma and PTS.D. (pp. 429-448). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.]: amnesia, depersonalization, derealization, identity confusion and identity alteration. Indicators were selected upon face validity and previous studies, including a preliminary study conducted by the author. Correlation analysis between indicators and PDEQ score was conducted. In addition analysis of variance to compare survivors who were still minors and adult survivors was conducted. Findings revealed that a significant correlation between indicators of derealization in drawings and PDEQ scores exists, in the adult group only. In addition, minors scored significantly higher on the PDEQ than adults. However, comparison between drawings of adults with drawings of minors indicated that adults scored significantly higher on the dissociative symptoms of identity confusion and identity alteration than minors. Findings may indicate that traumatic event drawings have a potential for being developed for diagnostic, therapeutic and forensic purposes. Suggestions for further research are offered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-123
Number of pages10
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007


  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Dissociation
  • Drawings
  • Traumatic event

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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