Dissociation in Normal Populations

  • William J. Ray


Historically, dissociation was an important clinical and theoretical topic at the beginning of the 1900s. The term psychological dissociation (désagrégations psychologiques) was developed by Pierre Janet (Janet, 1889), and his work has been discussed by a number of sources (see Ellenberger, 1970; Haule, 1986; Quen, 1986; Sjövall, 1967, for historical overviews). Dissociation for Janet was the resultant of stress, with some individuals being seen as more susceptible to dissociation than others. Janet and other nineteenth-century investigators studied unusual cases of psychogenic memory disorder, dramatic changes in personality, discontinuities in consciousness and awareness, and sensorimotor disturbances that were attributed to the basic mechanism of dissociation (Nemiah, 1985, 1991). However, interest increasingly waned throughout subsequent decades. Historically, this decline can be attributed to both a rise of behaviorism in academic circles and the strength of psychoanalysis in clinical practice. Theoretically, the works of Janet, Jung, and others concerning dissociation were largely ignored in favor of Freud’s rival hypothesis of repression (Ellenberger, 1970; Frey-Rohn, 1974; Nemiah, 1985, 1991). However, we have recently seen a shift in perspective. With renewed interest in multiple personality disorder (MPD) (Putnam, 1989; Ross, 1989) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the 1980s, dissociation again has become an important theoretical and clinical consideration.


Dissociative Process Dissociative Experience Dissociative Symptom Dissociative Experience Scale Dissociative Identity Disorder 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. Ray
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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