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Kalsched, D.E. (2017). Trauma, Innocence and the Core Complex of Dissociation. J. Anal. Psychol., 62(4):474-500.

(2017). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 62(4):474-500


Trauma, Innocence and the Core Complex of Dissociation

Donald E. Kalsched, Ph.D.

Trauma survivors often lament that they have lost their innocence or lost their souls and that something vulnerable and whole about themselves has been ‘broken’ or annihilated. Yet when the psychotherapeutic relationship begins, and symbolic material from dreams and the transference emerges, discernible patterns become apparent, indicating that a core of innocence and vitality has not been totally lost or annihilated. On the contrary, it has been ‘saved’ by dissociation and its system of inner objects and their protective and/or persecutory narrative ‘scripts’ or ‘schemas’. The dissociative system splits off a wounded, orphaned ‘child’ in the psyche and clinging to this ‘child’ is a penumbra of innocence that apparently must be preserved at all costs. Unfortunately the costs of preservation are high because such encapsulated innocence becomes malignant, and the inner world turns perverse and destructive. Only when the wounded, orphaned, and innocent part of the personality is allowed to suffer experience again - this time with the promise of a new outcome - can true healing of trauma occur. How to facilitate this authentic suffering in the face of powerful resistances thrown up by the ‘system’, will be the focus of this paper.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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