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McLean researcher

Milissa Kaufman: Dissociative Disorders and Trauma Research Program

Dissociative symptoms are associated with trauma-spectrum disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociative identity disorder (DID). These symptoms may include memory gaps, feelings of detachment from one’s body, emotions, or environment, confusion over one’s identity, and shifts in one’s identity. The Dissociative Disorders and Trauma Research Program, founded in 2013 currently focuses primarily on women with experiences of childhood trauma.

Our scientists aim to identify and understand the brain mechanisms, cognitions, and genes contributing to PTSD and DID, and how they relate to both dysfunction and resilience in these disorders.

For example:

  • Why do some people with experiences of trauma develop dissociative symptoms, while others do not? Why do some develop PTSD and others do not?
  • What are the brain regions involved in dissociative symptoms, and how do they work?

Ultimately, using cutting edge behavioral, statistical, brain-imaging, and genetic techniques, we hope to develop new treatment approaches for these conditions, and reduce the stigma surrounding these disorders.