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Dissociation and Treatment of Compulsive Reenactment of Trauma: Sexual Compulsivity

NCJ Number
M Schwartz; L Galperin; W H Masters
Date Published
21 pages
In order to cope with overwhelming stress, children have a tremendous capacity to dissociate and avoid assimilating a traumatic sexual event's full impact.
The result of the dissociative process is that individuals do not feel integrated. Frequently, such individuals will continue to dissociate as adults as a way of defending against shame or the intrusion of old memories. Because constriction and isolation are the natural consequences of trauma, dissociated individuals feel pervasively disconnected and also unsafe when they experience intrusions of affect. The need for sensation seeking and/or conflict to provide relief from the inner emptiness and boredom is another common feature of chronic dissociation. Dissociated individuals often present an ego state in therapy that represents a false self. The authors explore compulsive sexual behavior, arousal reconditioning, and healthy sexuality. They conclude that a combination of cognitive- behavioral, trauma-based, systemic, and 12-step treatment models can result in greater treatment efficacy for trauma victims who display dissociative disorders. 29 references and 1 table