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Onno van der Hart - The Nature and Manifestations of Trauma-Induced Dissociation of the Personality in Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect


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The Nature and Manifestations of Trauma-Induced Dissociation of the Personality in Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect


Onno van der Hart

The role of dissociation in the development and maintenance of trauma-related disorders, ranging from PTSD to dissociative identity disorder, in both children and adults with a history of child abuse and neglect is increasingly recognized. Clinicians realize more and more that properly identifying dissociation is essential in providing adequate, tailor-made treatment to survivors. Paradoxically, at the same time there exists a lot of confusion about what dissociation is and how it manifests itself. This presentation, therefore, aims at clarifying the original understanding of dissociation (as a division of the personality into personality subsystems called dissociative parts). It also describes various positive symptoms (intrusions such as flashbacks or voices) and negative symptoms (functional losses such as anesthesia in one’s abdomen and amnesia) stemming from this division, both of a cognitive-affective (psychoform) and a sensorimotor (somatoform) nature. Many of these symptoms can be seen as attempts to problem solving by specific dissociative parts. It also discusses some — according to the presenter--misunderstandings regarding dissociation, including the notion of so-called detachment dissociation. Some video material and drawings from survivors will be included.


Prof. Onno van der Hart, (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) offers, nationally and internationally, training and consultation on trauma-related dissociation, complex trauma-related disorders including the dissociative disorders. A psychologist, adult psychotherapist, trained family therapist and researcher, he is Emeritus Professor of Psychopathology of Chronic Traumatization at the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and, until January 1, 2013, a psychologist/ psychotherapist at the Sinai Center for Mental Health, Amstelveen. He is a scholar in Pierre Janet studies. Prof. Van der Hart has worked with colleagues Ellert Nijenhuis, PhD, and Kathy Steele, MN, CS, on a theoretical approach on trauma-related dissociation of the personality and a related treatment model which unifies mental disorders with a traumatic origin. He is co-author of the following books: The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization (2006), Coping with Trauma-related Dissociation: Skills Training for and Therapists (2011), and Treating trauma-related dissociation: A practical, integrative approach (2017).


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