The Haunted Self

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Description

Onno van der Hart, Ellert Nijenhuis and Kathy Steele
Publication date: 28 November 2006
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Pages: 440

They typically have a wide array of symptoms, often classified under different combinations of comorbidity, which can make assessment and treatment complicated and confusing for the therapist. Many patients have substantial problems with daily living and relationships, including serious intrapsychic conflicts and maladaptive coping strategies. Their suffering essentially relates to a terrifying and painful past that haunts them.

Even when survivors attempt to hide their distress beneath a facade of normality-a common strategy-therapists often feel besieged by their many symptoms and serious pain. Small wonder that many survivors of chronic traumatization have seen several therapists with little if any gains, and that quite a few have been labelled as untreatable or resistant.

In this book, three leading researchers and clinicians share what they have learned from treating and studying chronically traumatised individuals across more than 65 years of collective experience. Based on the theory of structural dissociation of the personality in combination with a Janetian psychology of action, the authors have developed a model of phase-oriented treatment that focuses on the identification and treatment of structural dissociation and related maladaptive mental and behavioural actions.

The foundation of this approach is to support patients in learning more effective mental and behavioural actions that will enable them to become more adaptive in life and to resolve their structural dissociation. This principle implies an overall therapeutic goal of raising the integrative capacity, in order to cope with the demands of daily life and deal with the haunting remnants of the past, with the ‘unfinished business’ of traumatic memories.