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Learning About Dissociation

source: Anne Pratt, PhD

If you’ve recently discovered that you are multiple, or have been diagnosed with a dissociative disorder, you might be reading everything you can get your hands on about it. Is this good? Can there be any harm in it?

When people first figure out that they are dissociative (or are diagnosed), they often are eager, even desperate, to learn all they can. They turn to websites and books for information.

“You mean I’m not the only one?” “How do people live with this?” In addition to the relief at finding that others have had similar experiences, reading information about dissociation can help one learn about grounding, about coping with certain symptoms, and about how trauma affects people.

Is there a downside? The only downfall, I think, is that many autobiographical (and other) books and websites contain graphic trauma material that can be triggering and retraumatizing to readers. Chat rooms might have discussions about the self-destructive thoughts of participants. If you are recently learning about your own traumatic past, it can be somehow tempting but very unhelpful to expose yourself to details about the trauma and abuse of others. Some would say that it is suggestive, as well, and that readers might begin to imagine that they experienced the abuse that was detailed in what they read. I doubt that is a major hazard, though. Far more likely is the unnecessary provoking of anxiety, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares by reading such material.

I suggest avoiding the details of the trauma of others. Read the wealth of information on the net that is about healing, coping, and feeling calmer, not the frightening stories of others. Read books that encourage getting better, such as Sandra Hocking’s Living With Your Selves: A Survival Guide for People with Multiple Personalities. The author is multiple herself. This book is available from (click on the title), where the discounts and great service really make shopping painless.

email author: Anne Pratt, Ph.D.
Author of Absolute Authority on DID MPD web site. copyright 2000 Traumatic Stress Institute, Squarepegz Webwizardz














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