Whose Treatment is This Anyway?

From time to time I visit the madinamerica.com website. I am also subscribed to the pods-online.org.uk newsletter. Through these 2 sources I came across Ms. Noel Hunter who recently completed her doctoral dissertation fully entitled:

“Whose treatment is this anyway? Helpful and harmful aspects in the treatment of dissociative identity disorder phenomena”

Noel Hunter, MA, MS

Long Island University, Post

I’d like to do a brief review of her dissertation in case any of my readers would be interested in obtaining the complete dissertation so you can examine it for yourself. If you read this blog, you are probably interested in alternative opinions about how to view and heal what is known as dissociative identity disorder. I believe Ms. Hunter is uniquely qualified in her search for what works in the vast array of treatment methodology when it comes to d.i.d.: she admits in her dissertation that she had been diagnosed and treated for d.i.d. However, in a recent email with Ms. Hunter she wanted to clarify her objection to the current bio-medical model of the brain and mental health issues and thus she objects to the diagnostic categories as well which would include her ‘having’ d.i.d. But she was willing to affirm her experiences in the past that aligned with d.i.d., but said, “I do not have these experiences any longer and haven’t for many, many years.”

As with so many issues, there is a ‘public stance’ that the experts take on a subject. For d.i.d. the ‘gold standard’ of treatment guidelines is found at isst-d.org here: http://www.isst-d.org/default.asp?contentID=49

But if you’ve ever studied a subject in depth and been able to ‘look behind the curtain’ as our favorite wizard from Oz forbade Dorothy to do, you will know that the ‘unified front’ the experts present to the general public is often just a façade. And for that reason, I find Ms. Hunter’s dissertation refreshing. She is willing to take the reader ‘back stage’ and allow us to see the debates and disagreements and dilemmas surrounding this disorder that many experts feel we are too ignorant to understand. Ms. Hunter takes us backstage and gives us a tour that has direct implications for everyone trying to cope with and heal d.i.d.

After a brief introduction Ms. Hunter jumps into her subject with a literature review of d.i.d’s history, the DSM, alternatives to the DSM construct, and various existing treatments both specific to d.i.d. and generic to the disorder but which are used by therapists. She then moves into a 20+ page explanation of the methods that she used to examine and scientifically categorize the interviews she had with 13 people with d.i.d. for her dissertation. Yes, this section is dry, but it is an explanation of the processes that she used to try to remove her opinion as far as possible from the conclusions of her dissertation. So if you like that kind of stuff, dig in. If not, you probably can skip the “Methods” section.

The next section she gives the “Results” of her interviews with her 13 interviewees. From these people she discusses the “helpful aspects of treatment” and then the “harmful aspects of treatment” that were shared with her from the perspective of each person she interviewed. And finally she included “helpful aspects” of healing that the interviewees shared that were outside of the professional services they received from therapists. From these results, Ms. Hunter gave 2 broad recommendations to therapists. First she implored therapists to resist the denial and disbelief that seems to pervade the general public as well as the clinician when it comes to the stories of trauma survivors. Secondly she shares the need for systemic improvements in the mental-health system that all mental health patients need for their healing.

The last section of the dissertation is titled “Discussion” and is the author’s attempt to wrap all of her findings up. She does not attempt to tie everything up into a ‘neat’ little theory. She seems able to acknowledge the mishmash and contradictions of her interviewees and the subject itself as she summarizes her findings.