Therapeutic Hazards of Treating Child Alters as Real Children in Dissociative Identity Disorder by Shusta-Hochberg, S.R.

Shusta-Hochberg’s article below supports the existence of child personalities  – and supports dissociative identity disorder, yet she does not think that exploring child alters is a productive method of treating patients.

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Therapeutic Hazards of Treating Child Alters as Real Children in Dissociative Identity Disorder
Shielagh R. Shusta-Hochberg, PhD

ABSTRACT. “Dissociative identity disorder (DID), with its typical etiology of extreme, repetitive childhood trauma, usually includes manifestations of childlike ego-states, among others. For many patients, these
ego-states, originating with the initial traumatic insults to the psyche in childhood, have been called forth again and again as new situations evoke the earlier trauma. When clinicians, family and friends react to
them with warmth, nurturing, and empathy, this may exacerbate the illusion that such ego-states are indeed actual children. This can result in a patient becoming increasingly resistant to working through the issues and experiences by which these ego-states have become fixed, with the risk of therapy reaching an impasse. Attitudes, interventions, and approaches to move past such impasses are addressed.”

Shielagh R. Shusta-Hochberg is a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City, NY.

This paper was originally presented as “Fixed Illusions: Treating the Reification of Child Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder,” at the 18th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation, November 2002, Baltimore, MD. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Vol. 5(1) 2004.

Retrieved 3/30/11. Available as a PDF.

ABSTRACT. “Dissociative identity disorder (DID), with its typical etiology of extreme, repetitive childhood trauma, usually includes manifestations of childlike ego-states, among others. For many patients, these
ego-states, originating with the initial traumatic insults to the psyche in childhood, have been called forth again and again as new situations evoke the earlier trauma. When clinicians, family and friends react to
them with warmth, nurturing, and empathy, this may exacerbate the illusion that such ego-states are indeed actual children. This can result in a patient becoming increasingly resistant to working through the issues and experiences by which these ego-states have become fixed, with the risk of therapy reaching an impasse. Attitudes, interventions, and approaches to move past such impasses are addressed.”

Shielagh R. Shusta-Hochberg is a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City, NY.

This paper was originally presented as “Fixed Illusions: Treating the Reification of Child Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder,” at the 18th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation, November 2002, Baltimore, MD. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Vol. 5(1) 2004.

Retrieved 3/30/11. Available as a PDF.

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