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Dissociative Experiences Scale II

Dissociative Experiences Scale II

What is DES II

The Dissociative Experiences Scale II (DES II) is a brief, self-report measure of the frequency of dissociative experiences. The DES was developed to serve as a clinical tool to help identify patients with dissociative psychopathology and as a research tool to provide a means of quantifying dissociative experiences.

DES II Printable PDF

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DES II Scoring and Interpretation

The DES II is a self-report measure, so it is self-administered.

The response scale is a format of numbers from 0 to 100 (by 10s). The subject is instructed to circle a number for each item that best describes the percentage of time they have the experience. 0% end means, this never happens to you, and the 100% end means that, this is always happening to you.

A total score for the entire scale is determined by calculating the average score for all items (add all item scores and divide by 28).

DES II Scores and Interpretation

Table 4
DES II ScoreInterpretation

30 or higher

High dissociator

Under 30

Low dissociator

PsyPack can automatically score the DES II assessment and prepare corresponding tables and graphs.

DES II sample result

Sample Report of DES II


Dissociative Disorders, Personality Disorders

What does DES II measure

The purpose of the evaluation is to:

  • quantify dissociative experiences, and
  • identify patients with dissociative psychopathology.



Type of outcome tool


Assessment modes


Age and eligibility

18 years and above

Estimated time

About 10 minutes


Since the questionnaire relies on client self-report, all responses should be verified by the clinician, and a definitive diagnosis is made on clinical grounds taking into account how well the client understood the questionnaire, as well as other relevant information from the client.

Though the scale has been used to measure dissociation in non-clinical (normal) populations, this was not its intended purpose and users should be aware of this. Since non-clinical subjects typically score in a fairly narrow range at the low end of the scale on the DES, small differences among these subjects may not be meaningful.

Similarly, since the DES was developed for use with adults (persons 18 or older), the language used and the experiences described are appropriate for adults, but may not be appropriate for younger persons.

The DES was not intended as a diagnostic instrument. High DES scores should not be construed as an indicator of a dissociative disorder diagnosis.

Many clinicians have used the DES as a screening device to identify high dissociators, but are unsure how to proceed when someone obtains a high score on the scale. Most times that a client scores over 20 or 30 on the DES, the clinician will want to know more about the dissociative experiences that contributed to the high score. One approach at further investigation would be to use the completed scale to interview the client. For each item with a score of 20 or more, the clinician could ask the client for an example of the dissociative experience (e.g., Can you give me an example of a time when you found something among your possessions that you didn't remember buying?"). With this method, it is possible to find out if a client has understood a question differently than it was intended. For example, a client might answer the above question with, "Sometimes my wife buys me new shirts and I find them in my closet." Clearly, this experience is not an example of dissociation and the high score is misleading.

Another approach would be to use one of two available structured clinical interviews for dissociative disorders. The Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule developed by Ross (Ross et al., 1989) and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R Dissociative Disorders developed by Steinberg (Steinberg et al., 1990) can both be used to make or rule out a dissociative disorder diagnosis.

Attribution and References

Carlson, E.B. & Putnam, F.W. (1993). An update on the Dissociative Experience Scale. Dissociation 6(1), p. 16-27.