Dissociation in Typical and Atypical Development

Examples from Father—Daughter Incest Survivors
  • Pamela M. Cole
  • Pamela C. Alexander
  • Catherine L. Anderson

Abstract

Dissociation has been characterized as the lack of normal integration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences into the stream of consciousness and memory (Nemiah, 1981; Putnam, 1984). The term is used to describe clinical conditions in which individuals lose awareness or memory of events and their attendant internal states. In addition, the term is sometimes used to describe normative regulatory processes by which an individual modulates internal state (e.g., intense emotion) and external input (e.g., aversive stimulation). For example, denial and dissociation have been described as primary defense mechanisms for children prior to school age (Cramer, 1991). Dissociation also appears to be a universal response to trauma at all ages (Putnam, 1985). The disconnection of affective content from conscious awareness at the time of trauma helps the individual both to mobilize for action without being flooded by emotion and to tolerate trauma until it is ended and physical and psychological help is available. Therefore, it may be that dissociation can be understood from the standpoint of normative development and emotion regulation.

Keywords

Sexual Abuse Emotion Regulation Family Functioning Insecure Attachment Abusive Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela M. Cole
    • 1
  • Pamela C. Alexander
    • 2
  • Catherine L. Anderson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Northwest Center for Community Mental HealthRestonUSA

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