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Michael Williamson, MBBS, FRANZCP, M. Med (psychotherapy)

Consultant Psychiatrist, Western Sydney Health Region, Parramatta, Australia

Dr Michael Williamson is a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist now working in private practice after lengthy experience in the public mental health system. He was one of the foundation members of ANZAP and twice President. He has had extensive experience in the psychotherapy of severe Borderline Personality Disorder and trauma-based psychological illnesses. He has been a long term member of the Faculty of the University of Sydney Master of Medicine Program which teaches the Conversational Model of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.

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040.4 – Complex Trauma in the 21st Century: a Conversational Model perspective

Symposium Paper 4:The Traumatised Self

Sunday, November 29

2:40 PM - 3:00 PM

Room: Ballroom 1 & 2


Michael Williamson, MBBS, FRANZCP, M. Med (psychotherapy)

Consultant Psychiatrist, Western Sydney Health Region, Parramatta, Australia

The traumatised Self is intrinsically wounded.  “Self” refers to the inner life of the person, a dynamic system of thoughts and feelings, memories and programs of behaviour, self-expression and human relationships. “Trauma” refers to the system of distortion and impairment of these same elements. The damaged person and his or her identity are the external manifestations of these inner systems.  Heavily dependent on its earliest being, primarily in the intimacy of the mother-infant relationship, the growth of Self is fostered through further loving, holding relationships. Correspondingly, Self is embodied within the neurophysiological programs of the growing body. Deficits and destructiveness in the formative relationships, involving physical, sexual and emotional abuse, traumatise the Self, identity and the body itself. Those who do not suffer physical and sexual abuse, are traumatised by long-term emotional abuse, as in emotional deprivation, devaluation, shame, ridicule and rejection. The expression of the traumatised Self is seen in distortion and deficits of inner awareness, unsuccessful relationships, disturbances of feeling, affect and cognition, of language, behaviour and self-care. The traumatised Self continues to elaborate its trauma system in self-destructive ways of being, behaving and relating, unless engaged in healing relationships in therapy so as to promote renewal and growth through the transformation of the wounded Self.