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Complex Trauma, and the Dynamics of Shame, Dissociation and Dissociative Processes

Complex Trauma, and the Dynamics of Shame, Dissociation and Dissociative Processes

The term Complex trauma captures the sequelae of early attachment trauma accompanied by cumulative other trauma i.e. emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse and neglect. The central disturbance in complex trauma is dissociation which causes disconnectedness among the elements of neural function i.e. parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, prefrontal regions, anterior cingulate, corpus callosum and cerebellum, necessary for the brain’s capacity to create stable, flexible and adaptive states of mind. Dissociation must be understood to exist on a continuum, and understood to occur in a relational context.

Altered self-capacities result, and include the collapse of relatedness which when it cannot be endured, internalised aspects of traumatising others relegated to the unconscious, become discrete self-states, assuming the voice, words and behaviour of the other/s which according to Kernberg (1996) Schwartz (1994) and Stolorow (1990) are variants of narcissistic personality, when aggression, fantasy and use of transitional phenomena along developmental lines have been derailed. Shame is an added dimension that is often dissociated, and what is left is a vulnerability to exposure. This seminar attempts to understand the dynamics of dissociation, dissociative experiences and shame in the understanding of the effects of complex trauma.

Conference: Westmead
Areas of Interest / Categories: Westmead Meetings 2017