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J Trauma Dissociation. 2007;8(4):69-89.

Functional dissociation of the self: a socio-cognitive approach to trauma and dissociation.

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  • 1Clinical Psychotherapy Unit and Dissociative Disorders Program, Department of Psychiatry, Istanbul University Istanbul Faculty Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey.


A novel socio-cognitive theory of dissociation and dissociative disorders is proposed. The model, which is both theoretical and clinical, is based on "functional dissociation of the self." A new concept is introduced in this paper: the sociological self. While the sociological self may have cultural and societal dimensions, it is regarded here as a universal phenomenon rather than a culture-bound one; as an individual psychological instance rather than a sociological concept per se. It is proposed that the main sources of dissociation are trauma-related detachment of the sociological and psychological selves and the subsequent amplification of the sociological self. Thus, effective psychotherapy must curtail the enlargement of the sociological self and reactivate the psychological self. It is hoped that this conceptualization will contribute to efforts both toward understanding the everyday dissociation of the average contemporary individual and toward developing novel psychotherapeutic approaches which might shorten the length of treatment of dissociative disorders.

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