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Fragmentation and dissociation

devils daughter


In the almost 50 years that I have been in therapy, off and on, I’ve done a lot of reading. Psychological theories have changed, therapies have changed. Almost 15 years ago I completed the coursework for a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology – not clinical. I had one (required) course in abnormal psychology. I didn’t do the general exam or write a dissertation, so I just have a master’s degree in psychology – but in that process I learned how to read academic and professional literature and put it into some context.

None of that helped me as I fell apart after my husband’s death. I cycled down and down and no therapy or therapist that I tried could stop it.

Breaking apart left me very dysfunctional. But some things I had read back in the 1960s had stayed with me and I thought that possibly the broken apart condition could be a place from which I could rebuild myself, whole.

I couldn’t do that all by myself, though.

Eventually, after 10 years of much distress and therapeutic failures, I found a therapist who understood, more or less, what the broken apart experience was like for people.

She puts both personality disorder not otherwise specified (PDNOS) and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DDNOS) on the receipts for my insurance. Also depression, but without help for the other issues treatment for depression alone was not very helpful.

Her approach is based on her training in treating dissociation and trauma. From what I can tell from the internet, the trauma and dissociation theory and therapy is somewhat different from the approaches based on the ideas of personality disorder and fragmentation. But the basic concepts seem very similar.

The good news is there are some well-trained and smart professionals out there who do seem to have a handle on these disorders. The bad news is that there are a lot of lesser-trained professionals who don’t seem to have a handle on it and who also don’t seem to know that they don’t. And there seems to be no accountability about that within the “system”.

It may be somewhat up to me (us) to use what functionality I (we) do have to help myself (and others like me). At least that’s an idea that I am trying out for now.


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