Culture, trauma and dissociation : a broadening perspective for our field

19 Feb 2020

In the field of trauma and dissociation, culture has a significant influence on the clinical presentation of patients. A growing body of literature addresses the relationship between culture and dissociation. Studies of this relationship though, evoke the important, but at the same time extremely sensitive issue of cross-cultural comparisons. In this editorial, I provide a limited overview of various ways in which cultural influences have been addressed in the field of trauma and dissociation. Most studies have examined the occurrence of dissociative disorders in clinical populations in different cultures and countries. Some have focused on normative dissociation as a response to traumatic events in non-clinical samples from different cultures. This editorial also explores the concepts of double consciousness and black consciousness, which have emerged from the fields of social psychology and black psychology; and how these concepts influence our thinking about non-clinical dissociation. Culture-related challenges in the field of trauma and dissociation create opportunities for training in cultural competence for therapists. Qualitative research methods might be best suited to future research on the relationship between culture, trauma and dissociation. The chances of reaching a thorough and deep understanding of the influence of culture on trauma and dissociation might be best if the entire spectrum of dissociation is studied – from normal to pathological dissociation, and in its different manifestations from universal to those unique to certain cultural groups.