chapter  5
33 Pages

Working with Dissociative and Disoriented Attachment Patterns (1)

“The child fell off the chair ...”
WithMarian Dunlea

Interventions grounded in somatic practice are particularly effective with clients with a dissociative and disoriented attachment style. Such interventions enable the therapist to work with dissociative content (implicit memory buried in the somatic unconscious); support the client to tolerate unbearable feelings of shame and rage, and integrate the dissociated aspects of the personality.

A long-term client suffered early trauma in a drug-induced environment of the womb of his benzodiazepines-addicted mother, leaving him deeply fragmented, fighting to stay alive by keeping his self-states separate and dissociated. His self-care system was evident in the power-based controller/victim, and persecutor/persecuted dyads, controlling his intimate relationships, and projecting his intolerable feelings of ‘victim’, ‘helplessness’ and ‘rage’. Building a secure base in his sensing body, through learning to self-regulate and to titrate overwhelming experiences, enabled him to tolerate powerful feelings that otherwise would have rendered him dissociated and dropped him into peri-natal ‘psychogenetic fits’ (Schore). Working with somatic interventions we built greater awareness of his self-protective and defensive musculature, providing him with greater strength, agency and resilience in his body/psyche. Gradually he developed a relationship to his child self state, which heretofore manifested predominantly in physical symptoms, offering new possibilities for creative living.