STRUCTURAL DISSOICIATION

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I remember when I first encountered the theory of structural dissociation – through a therapist I saw a few times and the book she recommended to me “Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation” (2011) by Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele, Onno van der Hart. The last author – I just recently learned are not allowed to practice psychotherapy anymore, due to transgressions? I will not judge that; I do not know enough about it to have an opinion on it.

But what I do have a lot of opinions on is the theory itself, and how it is used.

I was told in therapy that my therapist only wanted to talk to the “main-me” – the ANP (apparently Normal Person) – that felt insulting on so many levels. Firstly – apparently?? It sounds like the person (me) is abnormal – I just appear normal. Secondly – and more importantly – if a part of me initiates taking the whole of me to therapy to process trauma – and is refused a voice – how on earth is that going to be understood, by me? And to come to therapy and be told you are not only “just an emotional part” but also that the therapist then does not want to talk to you??

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A DIFFERENT WAY OF PERCEIVING THE WORLD AND “SELF”

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 A fair warning – I am going to get theoretical… but also add my own lived experience to this exploration.

What I am exploring here is if the fact that I highly resonate with a way of being and functioning that seems to be aligning with some of the leading theories behind what autism is, and how I see these theories through my own knowledge and experiences of how I have been reacting to early childhood trauma and how that has formed me, and my perception of myself. But I also explore my reactions to the theories behind severe dissociation, which I have never felt explain my own experiences (like the theory of structural dissociation).

I think I ended up using the defenses I did because they came natural to me. And I have defended myself against trauma with them, but also against everything else in the world that I could not cope with, in the same ways, that is using fragmentation and dissociation. What I say is – maybe they are not only psychological defenses that I came to use through being traumatized, but part of my individual, genetic make-up?

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Self-Care - Step no 1 - Be YOU

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I am reflecting over what self-care means, to me. 

I define it as a will and practice to give yourself what you need. To fill your own needs, but also be able to ask for those things you cannot do (for) yourself, or on your own, that is – to let yourself ask for – and receive help.

That definition rests on the assumption that you know yourself. If you do not know yourself, you cannot know what your needs are.

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Dissociation – Association Part 2

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Is dissociation both a defense system and a lack of learned skills of association?

Most things I read about dissociation is about how it is/can become a maladaptive coping strategy and later a defense system to handle trauma (or possibly everyday stressors, e.g. boredom or feelings of powerlessness).

But dissociation is so much more – as is its counterpart association. So how do we understand “normal dissociation”? How do we understand how maladaptive dissociation emerges and becomes a pattern of coping (outside the range of “normality”)?

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