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Goldberg, P. (1987). The Role of Distractions in the Maintenance of Dissociative Mental States. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:511-524.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:511-524

The Role of Distractions in the Maintenance of Dissociative Mental States

Peter Goldberg


I have sought to illustrate how distractions are in certain cases employed to mask a radical withdrawal from symbolically organized forms of self experience and communication. This dissociative use of distractions, by means of which regressive shifts in mental state are disguised, should be distinguished from the more conventional resistance function of acting in the therapeutic setting. Furthermore, consistent

deployment of decoys and distractions for the purposes of dissociation may have the effect of producing in the patient a 'twilight' mental state, a defensive middle-ground of pseudo-integration (manifested in dissociative activities and in attenuated and impoverished forms of sleep, dreaming, metaphorical thought and repression). By recognizing the ways in which this pseudo-integrated mental state is maintained, and how it provides a stable sanctuary, the therapist may be alerted to the abiding fear in these patients of more fully integrated modes of experience.

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