Explanation of Dissociation
Dissociation is defined as a disruption in the usually integrative functions of consciousness, memory, identity and/or perception (DSM-IV-TR, page 519). Clinical research has consistently found that a high level of dissociation is significantly associated with major psychopathology. In some instances, this takes the form of a DSM-defined dissociative disorder. In other instances, the dissociation is associated with another DSM diagnosis such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Somatization Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder or Acute Stress Disorder. High levels of dissociation have also been repeatedly found to be associated with antecedent experiences of trauma and life-threatening experiences. It is important to screen for dissociation in psychiatric patients and traumatized individuals as the presence of a high level may inform clinical care as well as help to identify an unrecognized dissociative disorder which requires specialized treatment.
Three empirically validated dissociation scales together with supporting documentation (selected articles/book excerpts and reference lists for studies that have used or discussed the use of the scales) are available free of charge on a CD-ROM. Click here to request a free CD-ROM.
The scales included on the CD-ROM are:
1) The Child Dissociative Checklist (CDC), a 20-item parent/observer report measure for children age 5-12 years (Putnam et al., 1990). The CDC score is the sum of all of the item scores and can range from 0 to 40. A score of 12 or higher is considered an indication of pathological dissociation, and further evaluation is warranted.
2) The Adolescent Dissociative Experiences Scale (A-DES), a 30-item self-report measure for ages 11-18 years (Armstrong, Putnam, & Carlson, 1990). The A-DES is scored by summing item scores and dividing by 30 (number of items). The overall score ranges from 0 to 10. A-DES scores of 4 or greater suggest pathological levels of dissociation, and further evaluation is warranted.
Information on the A-DES-T is also included. The A-DES-T is a taxometric subscale of the A-DES measuring pathological dissociation. It is scored by adding item scores and dividing by 8 (number of items). Scores of 4 or higher are considered indicative of significant dissociation deserving further clinical evaluation. The A-DES-T may also be used as a shortened version of the A-DES.
A-DES items which comprise the A-DES-T: 6, 9, 15, 17, 20, 22, 25, 30
3) The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES), a 28-item self-report measure for ages 18 years and above (Carlson & Putnam, 1993). The DES comes in two forms: the original DES and the DES II. Both versions contain the same items, but they differ in their response formats. The DES score is obtained by summing item scores and dividing by 28 (number of items). Overall scores range from 0 – 100. Scores of 30 or higher warrant further evaluation, however, scores do not necessarily reflect level of psychopathology since some DES items ask about non-pathological forms of dissociation. DES scores may have different meanings across clinical and non-clinical samples. (The DES II is included on the CD-ROM.)
Information on the DES-T is also included. The DES-T is a taxometric subscale of the DES measuring pathological dissociation. It is scored by adding item scores and dividing by 8 (number of items). Scores of 30 or higher are considered indicative of significant dissociation deserving further clinical evaluation. The DES-T may also be used as a shortened version of the DES.
DES items which comprise the DES-T: 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 22, 27
These three scales are offered as clinical screening instruments and as research tools. They do not make a formal diagnosis of any dissociative disorder or of a traumatic experience such as child abuse. High scores should be interpreted in the context of other clinical information. Formal diagnosis of a dissociative disorder requires either the competent administration of a validated diagnostic interview such as the SCID-D or clinical judgment.
These scales are public domain documents and may be freely reproduced and distributed without copyright restrictions. We only ask that you do not alter the item wording or content or the response format and then distribute the modified version under the original name. Please rename any modifications of these scales so that others will not be confused or mistakenly believe that the empirical validation of the original scales applies to your modified instrument. Any modification of these scales should be considered to be a new scale and must be independently validated.