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Title: Dissociative identities in childhood : an exploration of how children with dissociative identities may present in psychotherapy : are there implications for psychoanalytic technique?
Author: Russell, Jo
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 5945
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2015
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Children who have experienced early relational trauma in the realms of neglect and abuse may go on to develop a range of dissociative states of being as a consequence or as a defence. Child psychotherapists are frequently referred children struggling with such a legacy, yet for historical reasons dissociation is notably absent from the psychoanalytic literature and not a formal part of our professional training. This thesis aims to illuminate how dissociative children may present in psychotherapy sessions and to assess whether there are indications that traditional psychoanalytic child psychotherapy technique may need adjusting if treatment is to be most effective. Current theory regarding the aetiology of dissociative pathology is presented including the significant contributions from attachment and neuroscience research, and the slender view offered by psychoanalytic theory is elucidated. Case histories of two of the three participant children are presented with specific reference to attachment and trauma. Process recording notes from the psychotherapy of all three dissociative children are subjected to thematic analysis to arrive at two sets of patient and therapist related themes which are then recursively discussed in fine detail to determine what evidence the material provides. The conclusion is drawn that whilst dissociative children present with some distinct difficulties, these do not dominate the therapeutic endeavour and are largely similar to the presentation of traumatised and attachment disordered patients with whom child psychotherapists are very familiar. Furthermore it is suggested that whilst child psychotherapists treating dissociative children should consider psychoeducuative, organising and validating interventions, their core psychoanalytic skills of withstanding and analysing hostile and perverse transference material, together with their experience in creatively bringing all parts of the self to the child‟s conscious awareness are central to helping dissociative children recover.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ch.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available