Date of Award

Summer 6-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Daniel Capron

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Kelsey Bonfils

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Randolph Arnau

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Amanda Raines

Committee Member 4 School



Higher rates of dissociation are related to more severe psychopathology, psychiatric comorbidity, and poorer response to treatment, yet there is limited research examining dissociation as a transdiagnostic factor. In particular, examining dissociation in a Veteran sample is vital, as Veterans have been shown to have higher trauma exposure and dissociation rates than non-Veterans. Dissociation has been linked to several adverse outcomes related to Veterans, particularly suicide, as dissociation may increase the possibility of a suicidal act because of intensified disconnect from the body. However, research examining the relationship between dissociation, suicide, and additional related factors has been limited, given the complexity of these relationships. Recently, a statistical technique called network analysis has made it possible to expand our understanding of how dissociation relates to suicide and other related comorbid disorders by allowing the examination of multiple complex interactions and facilitators and compare these networks to civilian samples.

Military Veterans (n=254) and a comparative sample of non-Veterans (n=284) were recruited for a brief survey through online platforms. Our results indicated that Veterans reported significantly higher levels of depersonalization and derealization, dissociative amnesia, suicidal ideation, posttraumatic stress symptoms, anxious arousal, and pain tolerance; however, non-Veterans reported significantly higher levels of emotion dysregulation. Network analysis results revealed that there were no significant differences in network structures or node strength between these two networks, and addressing dissociative amnesia, depressive symptoms, and generalized anxiety may have broad effects on overall symptomatology for both Veterans and non-Veterans. However, there were some differences in the relative expected influence of nodes on the model in Veterans compared to non-Veterans, namely, that depersonalization and derealization may be important to consider and influence overall pathology in Veterans. Limitations of this study included uneven sample sizes within subsamples and the use of a cross-sectional sample, which limits the ability to determine causality. Future studies using longitudinal and multimodal approaches are needed to continue to investigate the potential causal mechanisms underlying these relationships.