The Dissociative Mind

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D.


the "self" as an aggregation of self-states (p. 37)...the dividedness of self-experience:

 "...this capacity for inherent dividedness of the mind (Watkins, 1997)...multiple, parallel subsystems of information processing (Hilgard, 1977)...concepts of the multiple self...and the plural psyche...the idea of the unity of the self is an illusion...we fill in gaps of experience..." (p. 39)

the self can have features of:


a) multiple centers of consciousness (p.37, citing Pierre Janet);


b) "discontinuous, shifting states, with varying degrees of access to perception and cognition" (quoting Bromberg,  1998, p. 225);


c) "...multiple levels of consciousness and unconsciousness - a multiply organized, associationally linked network of  meaning attribution and understanding" (quoting Davies, 1996, p. 562);


d) "the dissociative unconscious is...linked to...contemporaneous, subjective realities that alternate as foreground and background" (citing Bowers, 1994).

"...The "self" is plural, variegated, polyphonic, and multivoiced. We experience an illusion of unity as a result of the mind's capacity to fill in the blanks and to forge links...the self is characterized by a complex multplicity of subunits and subselves, and is itself a part of larger systems (Erdelyi, 1994). The self can be whole with reference to its constituent parts, and a part with reference to larger wholes..." (p. 38)

"...Le Doux (2002) [speculates that] the brain is organized into neural systems that to some degree function independently of one another...behavior is organized as a set of discrete behavioral states, which become optimally linked over time. The ultimate seamless transitions between these states lead to the...comforting... illusion that [we] have a unitary self..." (p. 40)