A great explanation of our inner world: Part 1; “Fragmentation and Internal Struggles”.

“Healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors”
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Ten years ago, in the context of consulting with traumatized clients who came to me as an “expert,” seeking to understand why they were not making progress in treatment, I began to observe a very characteristic pattern: these clients had something unique in common.

 

Each was superficially an integrated whole person but also manifested clear-cut signs of being internally fragmented.

 

They experienced intense conflicts between trauma-related perceptions and impulses (for example, “the worst is going to happen,” “I will be abandoned if I don’t get out first”) versus here-and-now assessments of danger: “I know I’m safe here.

 


I wouldn’t let my children live in this house if it were not safe.” They suffered from paradoxical symptoms: the desire to be kind and compassionate toward others or to live a spiritual life, on the one hand, and intense rage or even impulses to violence, on the other.

 

Once their conflicts were described, the patterns became more easily observable and meaningful.

 

Each side of the conflict spoke to a different way of surviving the unsurvivable, of reconciling the opposites that are so often part and parcel of traumatic experience.

 

With an explanatory model that described each reaction as logical and necessary in the face of threat or abandonment and that reframed them as the survival responses of different parts of the self, to which the individual could relate, each client started to make faster, more sustainable progress.

 

The theoretical model that best explained the phenomena they described was the Structural Dissociation model of Onno van der Hart, Ellert Nijenhuis, and Kathy Steele (2004).

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