Reading dissociation of the experience of relational trauma: Psychotherapy from the constructivist intersubjective perspective

Lorenzo Cionini, Isabella Mantovani
2016 unpublished
Dissociative processes are common for all people and do not necessarily have "clinical value". Nonetheless, in the presence of early relational experiences of trauma (absence of affective attunement, serious forms of negligence, psychological violence, physical violence , sexual abuse by a caregiver) they take on a protective function that lead to the creation of dissociated self-states that are multiple and cannot be integrated, each with its "own sense of truth" and own independent way to
more » ... ss awareness. Evolutionary trauma and dissociation are always present in the developmental history of each person and differ , from one individual story to another, only in terms of degree. In this sense we can assume that those who ask for psychotherapeutic help present dissociative phenomena of a different scope and that the work model illustrated here can be utilized for almost any patient. Through clinical examples and psychotherapy transcripts, this article describes the possible methods for using therapeutic conversation and the therapeutic relationship to read the dissociative processes and help the person find a new experience of self and of self with other. Filippo, aged 30, in psychotherapy with one of us for approximately nine months, in the assessment phase 1 presented a story of multiple early relational experiences of trauma. A few sessions past, reflecting on himself, Filippo said: "Something happens that touches me... a part of me evaluates it, but if I don't live it within me, and I look at it like an outside observer, I don't enter inside of it. It is as if I didn't have the possibility of living it, it doesn't touch me, I recount it in a 1 In our work method the assessment procedure usually lasts three sessions. Following the first interview aimed at analysing the request for psychotherapy, we ask the person to recount what he/she remembers of his/her own life experiences (from the earliest memories to the present day) and serves to help the therapist to try to construct an image of the person and the problem that has brought him/her to ask for help. The patient is not given any feedback.