A short vignette
Ms.A, a female client in her late twenties has been in psychoanalysis for the past three years. One day, when a child personality shows up without her usual elegant and composed manner, her analyst, Dr.B, initially felt blindsided. Then after recovering his composure, he states “Well, Ms.A, let’s start our session anyway. I thought that you wanted to express some child-like feelings and fantasy in such a telling way. Now, what comes to your mind this morning?”
By that time, her child personality quickly withdrew, reminding herself that she is not “ready” to show up in the session. Then A came back and said to herself. “Well…I remember once that my child part suddenly went ahead of me and spoke to him. At that time he never even noticed the change of the tone of my voice. He is now a step ahead, it appears, but still not ready to deal with us if it happens again in the future.”
The purpose of my presenting this telling (so I hope) vignette is to indicate that this is still the standard attitude of the analysts who are not informed of the clinical manifestation of the patients with dissociative disorder. This situation is not only unfortunate for psychoanalysts but also unwelcoming to those potential clients for psychoanalysis who have dissociative disorders. The main thrust of this paper is to change the analytic milieu in this regard.
As I stated, dissociation has been discussed increasingly in recent psychoanalytic literature. We can find very precious messages from their works; the concept of dissociation not only plays an important role in stressing the issue of trauma and supplement the deficit model, but also proposes a paradigm with such concepts as therapist’s spontaneity, subjectivity and enactment as a key to treating those suffer from trauma. However, what is discussed as dissociation in their works is limited to what Stern called “weak dissociation”. I really doubt that the discussion of dissociation this type still provide us with insufficient theoretical basis for treating dissociative phenomenon manifested by some clients, such as Ms.A that I described above.