Dialogues with Forgotten Voices: Relational Perspectives on Child Abuse Trauma and Treatment of Dissociative Disorders

Dialogues with Forgotten Voices: Relational Perspectives on Child Abuse Trauma and Treatment of Dissociative Disorders

Dialogues with Forgotten Voices: Relational Perspectives on Child Abuse Trauma and Treatment of Dissociative Disorders

Dialogues with Forgotten Voices: Relational Perspectives on Child Abuse Trauma and Treatment of Dissociative Disorders

Synopsis

Harvey Schwartz's territory is the severe end of the child sexual abuse continuum, where victims' experiences are so unthinkable and their adaptations so bizarre that the rest of us are tempted to pronounce them fictions -- whereupon we become complicity by subverting the survivors' struggles to heal. Schwartz synthesizes trauma theory and relational psychoanalysis to make sense of perpetrator, collaborator, and victim pathologies, and exposes the tortuous double-binds of therapy for and with dissociative patients. His office is the last stop on a kind of underground treatment railroad; his say-it-isn't-so case material reverberates throughout.

Excerpt

This breach of a child's body does count. It does register. The boundary of the body itself is broken by force and intimidation, a chaotic but choreographed violence. The child is used intentionally and reduced to less than human by the predator's intelligence as well as his behavior. The commitment of the child molester is absolute, and both his insistence and his victory communicate to the child his experience of her -- a breachable, breakable thing any stranger can wipe his dick on. When it is family, of course, the invasion is more terrible, more intimate, escape more unlikely.

-- Andrea Dworkin

Child abuse is our most powerful and successful ritual, according to psychohistorian Lloyd DeMause (1998). Some of the most egregious crimes against humanity involve the sexual abuse, abandonment, and torture of children in isolated families or in organized perpetrator groups. The fractured psyches and easily misrecognized voices and behaviors of many of the world's traumatized individuals are still not being heard or completely understood. And, while society debates, the belief systems of child-abuse perpetrators continue to pervade the minds of victims decades after the abuse has ended. As a result, far too many people live in the trap of a marginalizing psychological system of horror and terror characterized by unforgiveness, self-hatred, and dislocated accountability and responsibility. Because of their confusing symptoms and behaviors, many severely traumatized individuals are thwarted (or limited) for reasons they cannot understand when they seek to elicit help from various mental health, social services, and medical professionals, and these people remain ambivalently treated within a culture that benefits from their marginalization -- primarily through a peculiar combination of fear, fascination, and incredulity.

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