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Whitmer, G. (2001). On the Nature of Dissociation. Psychoanal Q., 70(4):807-837.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(4):807-837

On the Nature of Dissociation

Gary Whitmer, M.S.W.

Psychoanalysis cannot presently account for the paradoxical nature of dissociation—those states of simultaneous knowing and not knowing in which perceptions are accurate and fully conscious, yet have no credibility to the subject. This paper suggests that dissociation is actually a different way of knowing: the patient constructs self-knowledge only in interaction with another. The subject perceives sensations and states of mind, but relegates to another the job of interpreting this experience. The divided sense of self reflects a division of labor between the subject, who registers sensation, and the other, who names it. Consequently, what the dissociative patient recognizes as “me” is determined by another's interpretation, and the subject knows him- or herself only as he or she is known to another.

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