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Exploring the Consequences of Psychological Trauma: The View From The Swamp

Fletcher, Stephanie (2013). Exploring the Consequences of Psychological Trauma: The View From The Swamp. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis seeks to explore the experience of relationships in individuals who define themselves as having Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). The diagnosis of DID has been controversial for many years and the existence of the experience of multiple identities questioned. This study is interested in finding out more about the lived experience of those who define themselves as having DID.

The research takes a contextual constructionist epistemology and seeks to explore experience of relationships. Data were collected from seven women, between 30 and 50 years of age, who defined themselves as having DID. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).

Three master themes emerged from the data: ‘the self and the diagnosis’; ‘the process of relationships’ and ‘early experiences’. ‘The self and the diagnosis’ describes how the experience of DID appeared to impact on the way individuals perceived themselves and their diagnosis, as DID being a strength or a deficit. Also discussed within this master theme were difficulties in managing internal relationships; sharing the diagnosis with others; and improvement. ‘The process of relationships’ master theme described the experiences of being in different roles; good and bad interactions with others; and managing the beginning and the ending of relationships. The master theme of ‘early experiences’ explored the descriptions of interactions with early caregivers and the impact of these on the perceived development of DID.

These findings are discussed alongside published literature with particular consideration given to the differing ways individuals perceived their self-concept in relation to their experience of DID. Implications for counselling psychologists working with this client group are explored considering how internal experiences; difficulties in understanding others; and managing endings may impact on the process of therapy and the therapeutic relationship.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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