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What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about?

Felicity Lee
Felicity Lee

What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about? Empty What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about?

Post by felicity on 5/28/2015, 9:56 pm

What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about?

In the case of this conference, we are referring to 'early childhood trauma'.  This term can be better understood by the layperson as 'child abuse', in all of its forms.   Experts have been studying how early childhood trauma effects the brain, development of the child, and adult survivors of abuse.  The results of science-based research in relationship to 'trauma' will be discussed during this conference.

For any naysayers who may have stumbled onto this article, I would like to first share the ever rising statistics of child abuse:
General Statistics, 2013 in America.

   Every hour, 77 cases of child abuse are made.
   Each Year, there are 679,000 child victims of abuse and neglect.
   (That is a rate of 9.1 victims per 1,000 children in the U.S.)
   More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse.
   An estimated 1,520 children die of abuse and neglect in the U.S. per year.
   (Approx. 2.04 children per 100,000 die of abuse and neglect per year.)
   Three-quarters (73.9%) of all child fatalities were younger than 3 years.
   It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates
   The highest rates of child abuse occur under age one (23.1 per 1,000 children).
   More than one-quarter (27.3%) of victims were younger than 3 years.1
   Almost 70% of children that are victims of child abuse are under the age of four.
   More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.
   Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
   80% of victims were neglected.
   18% were physically abused.
   9% were sexually abused.
   8.7% were psychologically maltreated. source: americanspcc.org

What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about? Pie-chart
What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about? Child-fatalities
Now that we have proved that child abuse is 'real', we are one step closer to understanding 'trauma and dissociation'.   Abuse prevalors aren't lying, or looking for attention when they talk about child abuse they endured.  And according to research, they did also experience dissociation to some degree.

'Dissociation' may be less apparent to lay-people:

"Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. Dissociation seems to fall on a continuum of severity. Mild dissociation would be like daydreaming, getting “lost” in a book, or when you are driving down a familiar stretch of road and realize that you do not remember the last several miles. A severe and more chronic form of dissociation is seen in the disorder Dissociative Identity Disorder, once called Multiple Personality Disorder, and other Dissociative Disorders.
How Common is Dissociation?

Transient and mild dissociative experiences are common. Almost 1/3rd of people say they occasionally feel as though they are watching themselves in a movie, and 4% say they feel that way as much as 1/3rd of the time. The incidence of these experiences is highest in youth and steadily declines after the age of 20.

7% of the population may have suffered from a dissociative disorder at some time. But these disorders are difficult to identify and may go undiagnosed for many years." source: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Mental health professionals are either experts in dissociation, have very little understanding, or know nothing about the topic.  We cannot expect people to know something that they never learned during their studies.  The topic is rarely explored during graduate programs.  Oddly, everyone knows about Borderline Personality Disorders, and most graduate students' expertise is diagnosing without the knowledge that dissociative disorders have similar and some identical symptoms.   The treatment of both are also very different.  For instance, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), is not appropriate treatment for dissociative clients.  "DBT is a cognitive behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it is now recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for this population".  source: behavioraltech.org/resources/whatisdbt.cfm.

This leads to a vulnerable and already mistreated population to be further mistreated by the very system that should be there for them.  Many professionals and most lay-people believe that folks with BPD act and behave for one purpose - to seek attention.  Dissociative clients tend to escape attention or 'reality' by dissociating - or going away.  This is one of my favorite quotes that makes the difference clear:

"1. BPD and MPD/DID have similar appearing symptoms, such as identity problems, unstable affect modulation, self-destructive behaviors, chaotic impulse control, and troubled interpersonal relationships, but they have decisive differences in underlying dynamics, process, and structure. 2. DSM tends to blur these two disorders by its emphasis on phenomenology over inner structure, thus fostering misleading conclusions when DSM criteria are used to test for comorbidity or overlap between BPD and MPD/DID. 3. BPD and MPD/DID are both described dynamically as using the defense of splitting, but we contend that the splitting in each disorder is fundamentally different from the splitting in the other. BPD uses a polarization form of splitting, whereas MPD/DID uses ego splitting or identity division. 4. Both disorders partake in the process of dissociation, but the quality of dissociation in BPD is a "low-tech" spaced out type, whereas that of MPD/DID is a "high-tech" waking dream. 5. BPD structure is also "low tech," with polarization of self, object, and relationship. MPD/DID structure is "high tech," with heavily symbolic, highly nuanced variations of self, object, and relationship. 6. Although both conditions have etiologic elements of trauma, BPD has a larger degree of developmental deficiency, with a failure to complete the task of entering a repression hierarchy of defenses. MPD/DID, by use of primary process-linked symbolic dissociation, is able to continue development to the repression hierarchy, although at a profound cost of simultaneous suspension of reality testing. BPD patients suffer from the rigid use of too few defenses; MPD/DID patients suffer from the obsolete use of too many defenses. 7. BPD patients grow up in homes in which overtly expressed aggression is more tolerated, or at least more openly experienced. MPD/DID patients grow up in homes in which the fact of aggression is kept a secret. This has consequences for the formation of psychic structure in each disorder."

PMID: 7877901 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1994 Dec;17(4):743-71.

Now, we have determined that the topic of 'Trauma and Dissociation' is something that we should all take seriously and learn about.  This information should be helpful as we pay tribute to the people who have and continue to suffer because of misinformation, ignorance and/or loyalty to a tumbling paradigm that creates stigma for a population of people who simply deserve better.  Unless you have experienced early childhood trauma, you cannot possibly understand the damage being done by an inadequately educated mental health system.  First, it is common that dissociated children are adept at hiding all symptoms of abuse - silenced for fear of punishment.  The most common fantasy of these children is that someone might 'save' them someday.  Finally, they become adults and seek out help only to be further mistreated as adult survivors faced with many incompetent clinicians who invalidate their truth.

This is our purpose for having this conference.  Please, please - take the time to learn, to understand, and to know that there are reasons why you are not learning this information in universities and why there is controversy around the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder.  And, why child abuse statistics continue to climb - and, adult survivors don't report their abusers.  Can anyone really let this continue without at least hearing the truth and deciding for themselves?  During this conference, you will also hear an interesting history of how the public was misled to believe that DID is not real, that child abuse is over-reported, that such ridiculous terms as 'false memory syndrome' are valid.  There are 48 million adult survivors in the United States who know the truth and who all need competent therapists.

Ivory Garden exists for one purpose: to help the children being abused now - those who only dream of someday knowing that they will be safe.  Adult survivors deserve access to therapists who understand them, who care, and who are safe.  Every therapist can offer this to dissociative clients.  The annual Ivory Garden Trauma and Dissociation Conference is a safe place where everyone can learn and enjoy.  We welcome you all.  www.igdid.org.

I made this video several years ago.  I would like to share it.  It is my conceptualization of dissociative identity disorder.

Thank you,

Pat Goodwin,
President, Ivory Garden

What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about? Poly10What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about? Signat10
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What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about? Empty Re: What is 'trauma, and what is 'dissociation', and why is it so important to know about?

Post by mosaic_hearts on 6/22/2015, 8:24 pm

Thank you for this post, Felicity. It saddens me very greatly about how many children die each year as a result of child abuse and neglect. Although -*TW*- we had a near-death experience at the hands of a perpetrator when the body was ~ nine years old, we were lucky to survive, grow up, graduate from high school, attend uni, etc. These babies have none of that...

Maggie1971 w/others

    Current date/time is 10/15/2019, 7:16 am