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Sachs, A. (2014). Perpetrator Introjects: Psychotherapeutic Diagnostics and Treatment Models (2012) edited by R. Vogt, published by Asanger Verlag, Kroning. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 8(1):96-97.

(2014). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 8(1):96-97

Perpetrator Introjects: Psychotherapeutic Diagnostics and Treatment Models (2012) edited by R. Vogt, published by Asanger Verlag, Kroning

Review by:
Adah Sachs

The term “perpetrator introjects” describes perhaps the most distressing part of the dynamic between a victim and a perpetrator of abuse. It refers to some traits of the perpetrator which, rather than being hatefully rejected by the victim, become internalised by him or her, and experienced as part of the victim's own self. Subsequently, the victim may act in ways that resemble the behaviour of the person who had abused him or her, often to their own great consternation (and that of their therapists). Indeed, working therapeutically with people who have internalised aspects of their abusers poses great clinical challenges to therapists' understanding as well as to their capacity for tolerance.

The collection of papers in this book represents the proceedings of the 2011 Leipzig conference on this difficult and fascinating topic. Reading through it, I felt sorry that I had not attended the conference—it appears to have been one of those high-quality ones, with an impressive line-up of speakers and where almost every presentation was an in-depth, thought-provoking paper. The strength of the book, beyond the sum of its parts, is in providing a wide rainbow of current perspectives, interpretations, and points of view, each well argued, allowing the readers to form their own views.

At the heart of the book, Ralf Vogt describes a model, the SPIM-301, which suggests that the points at which perpetrator introjects emerge can be predicted, based on the intensity and type of trauma that the victim was subjected to. The subsequent tenacity of these introjects in the victim's life also depends on the type and severity of the abuse that he or she had undergone. Using this model, Vogt suggests treatment principles for people with varying degrees of perpetrator introjects.

Colin Ross focuses on the defensive use of introjects/alter personalities, who spare the main person the knowledge of the most traumatising elements of his or her life.


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