According to 19th century French psychiatry and contemporary clinical observations, dissociation pertains to both psychological and somatoform components of experience, reactions, and functions. Because such an instrument was lacking, we aimed to develop a self-reporting questionnaire measuring what we propose to call somatoform dissociation. Patients with dissociative disorder and with other DSM-TV psychiatric diagnoses completed a list of 75 items that, according to clinical experience and expert judgment, could reflect instances of somatoform dissociation. Separate logistic analyses and determination of discriminant indices per item revealed 20 items that best discriminated between those with and without dissociative disorders. Mokken analysis showed that these items are strongly scalable on a dimensional latent scale interpreted to measure somatoform dissociation. Reliability of the scale was high. Construct validity was supported by high intercorrelations with the Dissociation Questionnaire, which measures psychological dissociation, and higher scores of patients with dissociative identity disorder compared with patients with dissociative disorders not otherwise specified. In conclusion, the Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (SDQ-20) is a scale of good psychometric quality, which measures somatoform dissociation. The symptoms pertain to negative and positive dissociative phenomena, which were well known in 19th century French psychiatry as the mental stigmata and mental accidents of hysteria.
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