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Dissociation, Trauma and Hypnosis: What Every Clinician Should Know

Dr Etzel Cardena, Ph.D.

Held 10-11 September 2015

Dr Etzel Cardeña holds the endowed Thorsen Chair in psychology at Lund University in Sweden, where he directs the Center for Research on Consciousness and Anomalous Psychology (CERCAP). His PhD is from UC Davis and he was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford. He has been faculty at Georgetown U. and The University of Texas-Pan American, where he was Department Chair. A fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Studies, his work has garnered awards from, the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, Division 30 of APA, the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, and others. He was a consultant on the dissociative disorders to the DSM-IV, DSM-5, and ICD. His areas of interest include dissociative processes and acute posttraumatic reactions, hypnosis (for posttraumatic conditions, neurophenomenology), and anomalous experiences. His more than 300 publications include Varieties of Anomalous Experience published by APA, now in its second edition, and the two-volumes Altering Consciousness: A multidisciplinary perspective.

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Seminar outline

Founders of clinical psychology, including Freud, Janet, and Morton Prince, observed that those who manifested psychological (e.g., psychogenic amnesias, alternate identities) and somatoform (e.g., medically unexplained paralyses) dissociation often have a lifetime history of chronic and/or severe trauma. They also noted that these patients were often very responsive to hypnotic techniques. Contemporary clinical, neurophysiological, developmental, and cognitive research has supported those early observations and added others, such as the link between disorganized early attachment and dissociation. This seminar introduced the concept of anomalous experiences to differentiate experiences that are just unusual (for a particular cultural at a particular time), from those who actually bring about distress and maladjustment. It discussed the complex concept of dissociation including the various forms through which  it can manifest, and what research tells us about its relation to different types of trauma and unresolved forms of attachment. It also delved specifically into manifestations of dissociative psychopathology, their evaluation, and the use of adjunctive hypnotic techniques within a stage-treatment of trauma.