It was to their great merit that they provided a new narrative for the notion of dissociation based on the theories of Winnicott and Sullivan. However, while they summed together non-conscious and unformulated part of the mind as dissociative, they seem to have overlooked a point: That is that their theories are based on an assumption that there is only one subjectivity which is involved.
If we consider the experiences of patients with DID (dissociative identity disorder), my point can be readily taken. What has not been experienced and not formulated for a subject (S1) could have been already experienced and formulated for another subject (S2, or another part of the personality). Stern states that “not-me” described by Sullivan is basically maintained as unformulated experience (D660). However, when Sullivan referred to a dissociated part as “not-me”, it might be “not-me” for the S1, but it might
be “me” at the same time for S2.
According to Stern’s understanding, severe trauma is often what has not been experienced and therefore, dissociated. That is true for the S1 who is present at this moment. However, this theory does not necessarily preclude a possibility that somewhere else in his psyche another subject, S2 has been present and has already experienced that trauma. Stern and Bromberg simply did not take that possibility into consideration. Current psychiatry clearly indicates with evidence that that seems to be what is happening in patients with DID. Existence of another subject in dissociative condition is clearly documented in the psychoanalytic literature, as early as the Studies on Hysteria. Let us take Anna O, described by Joseph Breuer, as an example.
“She now spoke only English and could not understand what was said to her in German.”