Trapped Between Self-Understanding and Self-Denial - Dealing with the Diagnosis Dissociative Identity Disorder within the German Mental Health and Child Welfare System

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 32 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ute ZILLIG, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Goettingen, Germany, Germany
In this paper I would like to point out how massively stressful biographical experiences such as sexual abuse, exploitation and neglect lead to a state of mental constitution that is diagnosed as dissociative identity disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder.

My PhD project is based on a biographical-sociological approach. I conducted life stories of complex traumatised mothers, who are all patients of a traumaspecific psychiatric hospital and who suffered from various forms of abuse during their childhood. With the biographical-sociological perspective the social positioning, experiences of (self-)devaluation and social exclusion of highly mentally burdened victims of human rights abuses come into consideration.

With a focus on the German psychiatric system and by analysing biographical narratives I would like to provide insights on how trauma-specific psychiatric settings offer ways of support that contribute to processes of self-understanding after years of being a more or less 'misunderstood' patient of different kinds of psychiatric settings, e.g. locked psychiatric ward.

In contrast to these processes of self-understanding I will further point out the limits of this kind of empowerment and take experiences of mothers with dissociative identity disorder within child welfare system into consideration as well. I would like to illustrate that there is a lack of interdisciplinary knowledge and cooperation within and between these two institutionalised settings of support: Although, there are experiences of self-understanding within trauma-specific psychiatric settings, the German child welfare system contributes to processes of self-denial and experiences of social exclusion at the same time.