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by Mike Fisher


Increasing numbers of people are presenting to counsellors, churches and voluntary organisations with trauma from early life abuse or events. For some of those individuals the trauma has been extreme and for others it has also been perpetrated in ritual or group settings of cults or paedophile rings. Survivors of such atrocities are often left suffering from sustained Post Traumatic Stress, Dissociative Disorders and Dissociative Identity Disorder along with a complex range of life issues.


DID is neither a psychosis nor a personality disorder but rather a sophisticated survival mechanism for coping with overwhelming, often enduring, childhood trauma.


Denial, disbelief and misdiagnosis all mitigate against survivors receiving the appropriate help and achieving a full recovery. Without sufficient awareness and understanding counsellors can become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.


“Dissociative Identity Disorder is a complicated clinical disorder. Treating it requires a number of different perspectives. The practitioner cannot take a narrow or purist point of view, but must understand in an historical and cultural context.” – Ross (1997)


“Treatment is long-term, intensive and invariably painful, as it generally involves remembering and reclaiming the dissociated traumatic experiences. However Dissociative Disorders can have the best prognosis of recovery of any severe mental health disorder, providing proper treatment is undertaken and competed.” – Sidran Foundation (2000)


Successful Treatment is more dependent upon the client/counsellor relationship than on which model of therapy is adopted. Seeing the client as a person rather than a “condition”, and listening to and learning from the client are more important than the number of books or articles that have been read.


“Twentieth-century psychiatry has grossly underestimated the amount of dissociation in the normal population, and in clinically disturbed individuals.” – Ross (1997)