90 Minute Workshop

Unmasking Trauma and Dissociation in DSM 5 Personality and Psychotic Disorders

Sunday, March 25
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Kimball

The importance of trauma in causing psychological dysfunction was minimized in DSM III, IV and 5. In the late 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association colluded with the pharmaceutical industry to “medicalize” psychiatric disorders to imply that diagnoses had reliability and validity. A public relations campaign contended that mental illnesses were caused by “chemical imbalance” and drugs were the treatment of choice, thus shaping the manual’s formulation. DSM-5 says little about trauma etiology in any diagnostic categories, except under ‘Trauma and Stress Related Disorders.’ Trauma can produce a range of symptoms specified in DSM-5 personality disorders (e.g. affect dysregulation in Borderline; hypervigilance for betrayal in Paranoid; avoidance of triggers in Avoidant). Research shows the prevalence of trauma history in psychotic disorders, and some of their DSM-5 criteria may be better understood as dissociative phenomena. When diagnosis suggests probable sources of distress and dysfunction, it encourages treatment of causes, rather than temporary control of symptoms with drugs or behavioral techniques. Clinical vignettes will illustrate assessment for trauma and dissociation in cases meeting criteria for DSM-5 personality or psychotic disorders. Participants will discuss diagnoses suggested by presenting problems, and modify their evaluation as history and behavioral observations unfold through several sessions.  

Learning Objectives:

Ruth Blizard

Private Practice
Johnson City, NY

Ruth A. Blizard, PhD, is a psychologist practicing in the Binghamton, NY, area with over 30 years of experience in treating persons with severe trauma, dissociation, and personality disorders. She served as editor of the newsletters of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and Division 56 of the APA, Trauma Psychology News. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation. She has published articles integrating psychoanalytic concepts and attachment theory in the treatment of trauma, dissociation and psychosis. She has taught the official ISSTD course, “Diagnosis and Treatment of Dissociative Disorders,” and has presented internationally on trauma, attachment, borderline personality, psychosis and the spectrum of dissociative disorders. She enjoys folk music, hiking, bicycling, kayaking, and most of all, being a grandmother.


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Unmasking Trauma and Dissociation in DSM 5 Personality and Psychotic Disorders

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