The Dissociation-Related Beliefs About Memory Questionnaire (DBMQ): Development and psychometric properties

Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychopathology

Huntjens, R. J. C., Dorahy, M. M. J., Read, D., Middleton, W., & van Minnen, A.


Objective: Discontinuities in memory are the hallmark symptoms of most dissociative disorders but are also reported by patients diagnosed with related disorders, including PTSD. Memory discontinuity is most evident in dissociative identity disorder (DID), where patients may report amnesia in 1 identity for information available in other identities (i.e., interidentity amnesia). Studies indicate that even though patients subjectively report interidentity amnesia for material learned in, or pertaining to, another identity, objective findings show evidence of transfer of that material between identities. Subjective reports of dissociative amnesia may be explained by specific dissociation-related metamemory beliefs, which hinder voluntary retrieval, personal acknowledgment, and processing of memories. This study aimed to develop a questionnaire indexing metamemory beliefs related to trait dissociation.

Method: Two studies in nonclinical populations provided information about the factor structure (Studies 1 and 2) of the newly developed Dissociation-related Beliefs about Memory Questionnaire (DBMQ). Information was also provided about the construct validity (Studies 2 and 3), and reliability of the scale (all 3 studies) in nonclinical as well as a clinical population.

Results: Results indicated sound psychometric properties of a short 16-item DBMQ with subscales assessing Fragmentation, Positive beliefs about amnesia, Lack of self-reference, and Fear of losing control, and correlations specifically with trait dissociation and posttraumatic avoidance symptoms. A sample of DID patients (N = 19) showed increased scores on the DBMQ.

Conclusion: The DBMQ provides a short, reliable, and valid tool for indexing dissociation-related metamemory beliefs. These beliefs were associated with trait dissociation and posttraumatic avoidance symptoms.

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