Understanding Dissociation.com launched one week ago. Since then, it has logged 500+ Hits, 41 Comments (albeit nearly half of them mine as I respond to your Comments), and 19 subscriptions by email. A good start, I think.
Because I am convinced that it takes a community to understand dissociation, I believe that the true riches of UnderstandingDissociation.com reside among and between its Comments. The Comments show the effects of my posts on your thinking about dissociation. And, because, my Comments address the core ideas in your Comments, the real ‘action’ lies in that give-and-take between the Comments.
Read the Comments to the previous post and allow them to enrich your own thinking! Go ahead. Click on “Are You Aware of the Disagreements About Dissociation?” (below) and read the responses that were submitted by our nascent community.
Participate in all of the fun and take in all of value that is on offer. Our community of dissociation aficionados grows and matures the more that you learn and the more often that you share your thoughts with the rest of us. Remember: UnderstandingDissociation.com is a community!
Is Dissociation a Many-Splendored Thing?
I need to make a brief statement about the theory of structural dissociation. I have focused my blog posts on this model not because I disagree with it (I actually agree with about 80-85% of it), but because the structural model of dissociation is, by far, the most clearly stated position in the field.
Experience has shown me that even more clarity arises when a very clearly stated position is closely examined or challenged. Clearly stated positions always seem to repay the effort that you put into thinking about them — even if you wind up disagreeing with them in the end.
Perhaps the clearest statement of the structuralists’ view of dissociation is “Dissociation versus alterations of consciousness: Related but different concepts” (Steele, Dorahy, van der Hart & Nijenhuis, 2009). This is an excellent account which I highly recommend. In that chapter, Kathy Steele, Martin Dorahy, Onno van der Hart, and Ellert Nijenhuis make several essential points:
- There is serious conceptual confusion about dissociation.
- If an alteration of consciousness is not caused by a dissociated structure of the personality, then that alteration of consciousness is not dissociative.
- It is very difficult to distinguish structural vs. nonstructural alterations of consciousness. In fact, our measures of dissociation (e.g., DES) indiscriminately mix the two together in their test scores.
- The continuum model of dissociation (wherein normal forms of ‘dissociation’ lie at one end and pathological forms lie at the other end) is incorrect.
- Persons with structural dissociation routinely experience nonstructural alterations of consciousness as well.
- All trauma-related disorders (Think: especially PTSD) are rooted in structural dissociation.
Of the six points listed above, I can heartily sign on for five of them. But I don’t think that empirical evidence supports the structuralists’ last contention.
My bottom line: I think that some persons with PTSD have structural dissociation, but I think that other persons with PTSD do not.
So, your turn. What do you think?