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Dissociative disorders

Dissociative disorders

These are uncommon – so uncommon that they may not even exist (Lynn 2012). He states “Conventional wisdom holds that dissociation is a coping mechanism triggered by exposure to intense stressors. Drawing on recent research from multiple laboratories, we challenge this prevailing posttraumatic model of dissociation and dissociative disorders. Proponents of this model hold that dissociation and dissociative disorders are associated with (a) intense objective stressors (e.g., childhood trauma), (b) serious cognitive deficits that impede processing of emotionally laden information, and (c) an avoidant information-processing style characterized by a tendency to forget painful memories. We review findings that contradict these widely accepted assumptions and argue that a sociocognitive model better accounts for the extant data. We further propose a perspective on dissociation based on a recently established link between a labile sleep-wake cycle and memory errors, cognitive failures, problems in attentional control, and difficulties in distinguishing fantasy from reality. We conclude that this perspective may help to reconcile the post-traumatic and socicognitive models of dissociation and dissociative disorders”.

In the 1970s a theory that dissociation into multiple personalities results from child abuse was popularised in the best-seller “Sybil” (Schreiber 1973). It was believed that this book was, at least partly, responsible for an epidemic  of diagnosis of multiple personality disorder and that dissociative identity disorder is an artifact brought on by suggestive therapy techniques (Piper & Merskey 2004). They stated “In this second part of our review, we continue to explore the illogical nature of the arguments offered to support the concept of dissociative identity disorder (DID). We also examine the harm done to patients by DID proponents’ diagnostic and treatment methods. It is shown that these practices reify the alters and thereby iatrogenically encourage patients to behave as if they have multiple selves. We next examine the factors that make impossible a reliable diagnosis of DID–for example, the unsatisfactory, vague, and elastic definition of ‘alter personality’. Because the diagnosis is unreliable, we believe that US and Canadian courts cannot responsibly accept testimony in favour of DID. Finally, we conclude with a guess about the condition’s status over the next 10 years”.

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