Childhood Experiences and Delusions: Trauma, Memory and the Double Bind

Saturday, March 24
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Location: Red Lacquer

Most conceptions of delusions consider them to be incomprehensible (i.e., not capable of being ‘grasped’ or held). This usually means that delusions are seen to be unconnected to a person’s life experiences. And yet, significant evidence has accrued to suggest that delusions occur frequently after a trauma, and may be trauma-related. A popular psychological model for delusions conceptualize them as ‘explanations for anomalous experiences’. Could these anomalous experiences be trauma-related? In this presentation, the possibility that many delusions could be founded on early adverse childhood experiences is explored. Clinical and empirical evidence is presented that: 1) memories for early childhood experiences occur, but are not narrative-based (body memories, fragmented sensations, overwhelming emotions), 2) these memories may be experienced later in life when triggered by contextual cues, but will not be recognized as memories and 3) delusions may be created to ‘explain’ these memories and reduce overwhelming affect. Delusions may also act to ensure that no genuine trauma memories reach consciousness, and to justify forbidden actions. In addition, parallels are drawn between parent-child dynamics as described in contemporary attachment research, and the 1950s double-bind theory of schizophrenia. It is argued that delusions could be an attempted solution to the double bind.

Learning Objectives:

Andrew Moskowitz

Professor of Psychology
Touro College Berlin
Berlin

Andrew Moskowitz, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Touro College Berlin and President of the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation. He is the lead editor of Psychosis, Trauma and Dissociation (2008, Wiley Press), along with Martin Dorahy and Ingo Schäfer, the 2nd edition of which will be published late this year, and was a core member of the WHO committee to revise dissociative disorders diagnostic criteria for the ICD-11. Dr. Moskowitz has published widely on connections between trauma, dissociation and psychosis, addressing areas such as the dissociative nature of auditory hallucinations, the historical concept of schizophrenia and its relation to dissociation, and catatonia as an evolutionary-based fear reaction. Current areas of interest and research include: 1) the relevance of dissociation to refugee treatment, 2) dissociation and the ‘1st rank’ symptoms of schizophrenia, 3) grief-based hallucinations in the elderly bereaved and 4) hidden dissociative disorders in psychotic populations.

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Childhood Experiences and Delusions: Trauma, Memory and the Double Bind

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