McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
This project sought to narrate a process of working with and learning from DID, through the researcher’s case study description of her work with a patient experiencing dissociative identity disorder (DID). The researcher focused on unique ways in which dissociation and multiplicity impacted the therapy relationship and impacted work on the patient’s experience of self, including healing traumatic wounds, developing richer intra- and interpersonal relationships, and moving toward increased self-integrity. The researcher additionally worked with psychoanalytic theory, particularly Jungian, post-Jungian, archetypal, and relational approaches, to consider the ways in which DID provides an opportunity to conceptualize broader human experience, not only the most radically unintegrated, in terms of dissociation and multiplicity. This argument was presented as a counter to tendencies to privilege unity—more specifically, the personal ego—within much of psychotherapy and broader Western culture, which both has shaped and been shaped by psychotherapy. The project ultimately presented and argued that a relational and archetypal approach to DID both provides a means of processing and healing trauma through new relationship and opens therapeutic work to ways of approaching psyche that transcend singular and personal visions of subjectivity, identity, development, health, creativity, agency, etc. In order to invite the project itself to realize its argument, the researcher augmented the case study method with imaginal methods. The researcher engaged in active imagination, informed by Romanyshyn’s “transference dialogues,” and treated writing as a method of discovery rather than merely a passive recording. These methodological augmentations were intended to invite integration of what we might call dissociated and/or unconscious imaginative material—personal, interpersonal, cultural, and archetypal—that was not necessarily a part of the researcher’s own initial conscious awareness of or intentions for the project.
O'Connor, C. (2016). "A Multitude of Little Luminosities": Dissociative Multiplicity as an Image of and Invitation to Psyche, through a Case of Dissociative Identity Disorder (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://ddc.duq.edu/etd/37