Dissociation : Vol. 3, No. 3, p. 167-173 : Dissociation and subsequent vulnerability: a preliminary study

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Title: Dissociation : Vol. 3, No. 3, p. 167-173 : Dissociation and subsequent vulnerability: a preliminary study
Author: Kluft, Richard P., 1943-
Abstract: Recent reports by D. Spiegel, F. Putnam, and others demonstrate that dissociation is a common response to severe trauma, serving to provide some degree of acute insulation against overwhelming stressors. This quite preliminary study explores certain of the consequences subsequent to the establishment of dissociative defenses, and illustrates that their successful employment is a two-edged sword, rendering those who develop an adaptation relying on dissociation vulnerable to rather than protected against subsequent victimization. Of eighteen carefully studied incest victims who had developed dissociative disorders and had been sexually exploited by psychotherapists, 14 (78 %) had been raped as adults. One hundred percent were found to suffer ongoing dissociative symptoms that disrupted their sense of mastery and control of themselves and their lives. One hundred percent demonstrated that the defensive ablation of memory of crucial information rendered them incapable of perceiving and reacting to actual danger situations appropriately. Ninety-two percent became frozen or withdrawn under stress, and met situations best avoided by decisive action with passive compliance and learned helplessness. The same percentage had suffered a shattering of basic life assumptions. In all cases, traumatically-induced dissociative deformation of the observing ego and debasement of cognitive functioning had occurred, leading to a decontextualization of traumatic experiences. The outcome of these sequelae, which offer acute protection, is a syndrome of chronic impairment which, in severe cases, predisposes those who suffer it to repetitive revictimization. These findings are duplicated in a larger series currently under study. Therapeutic implications and useful strategies are reviewed
Description: p. 167-173
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/1702
Date: 1990-09

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