Citations en langue anglaise

1. Différenciation

An abuseur imposes his will on the child and imposes his version of reality, which may be a very distorded version. The abused person even when grown up may continue to believe that the abuser has power to control her life. (…) It is as if the person continues to inhabit the version of reality presented by the abuser, that he/she will always be in control. The fact that the abuser may never be exposed or brought to justice emphasises his omnipotence in the mind of the abused; he is seen as beyond the law. If in normal development the father is seen as the representative of the law and of reality, and is the guardian of separation and boundary (Mollon, 1993), then the abusing father becomes the imprisoner of the child in a perverse world where the law is excluded.

2. Subjective self – Sense of agency (the sense that I am the cause or author of the thought or movement)

The potential to feel like an active agent in one’s own life is severely damaged for the abused person who usually feels profoundly passive and helpless.

One consequence of this is that the patient’s sense of reality is disturbed. This is because being able to determine one’s own perception of reality is a fundamental aspect of the sense of agency. (…)

Very often this damage to the sense of agency leads a person to be preoccupied with asserting power over others, identifying with the aggressor.

3. Objective self

This concern the person’s objective’view of the self-concept and self-esteem. The images that an abused person has of themselves are negative in the extreme – of the non-human and of excrement. If the person has dissociative internal voices they may scream that he/she is filth and deserves to die. (…)

Although the child is genuinely a victim, helpless and controlled by the abusers’superior strength, power and capacities to threaten and deceive, he or she will blame the self for the abuse.(…)

What drives the abuser is not sexual desire itself, but rather the sadistic wish to control, violate and humiliate, to take possession of the self of the other, it is this malevolent intention towards the other that forms the fuel for the sexual excitement. The consequence for the abused is near a annihilation of the self and the creation of images of the self that are negative, to an extreme that is quite intolerable, generating panic measures of dissociation and projection. (…)

Her semi-conscious reasoning then was that if her own mother could not be concern to protect her then she could not be worth very much.(…) She would always put other people first as if her own needs were no importance.

Multiple personality disorder is about playing tricks with reality, in the face of a reality which is intolerable. The problem is that images of the self which do bear the imprint of reality, and also of the projective fantasies of the abuser, do not forever vanish but continually threaten to re-emerge into consciousness.

4. Structure and organisation of the self

The person who has been extensively traumatised or abused in childhood may have a shattered self. Such functioning as they have is achieved through splintering of the self, dissociation and warding off experiences of trauma. (…)

The self state of a person who has experienced severe childhood trauma is often chaotic, as the frantic use of dissociative and maniac defenses plays havoc with integration and stability. At one moment the person is an abused and frightened child, at another moment a triumphant aggressor, and then an adult in denial of any abuse, and so on. (…)

The abused child not only fails to experience the empathy necessary for building a coherent and cohesive self, he/she also does experience a violation which smashes the potential structure of the self.

5. Balance between Subjective and Objective Self

This is to do with the delicate balance and movement of attention between awareness of the self from inside, feelings and wishes, etc., and awareness of the other view of the self from outside, that is required for effective social intercourse and relationships.(…)

The abused person exists against a background of chronic terror, constantly scanning the environment for danger. (…)

The background of terror makes attention to the inner world of feelings and fantasies very frightening. Such a person attempts to keep the inner world under control and surveillance just like the external world. He /her consciousness is suspended between two worlds of terror. Communication between these worlds is feared as madness, as is letting go of control. (…)

Optimum social communication, especially in intimate relationships, involves an exquisite and continual exchange between an empathy with the self and an empathy with the other. How terrifying to empathise with the malevolant intention of the abuser and to realise that one is the object of this intention; and how inbearable to empathise with the self that is that object ! The abused can reach out neither to do other nor to the self, but remains forever frozen between them.

6. Illusions of Self-sufficiency

The person who has been extensively abused in childhood naturally feels that other people in general cannot be trusted. Indeed it may be that one result of abuse is particularly rigid schemas or beliefs regarding relationships, which are relatively immune to new information. (…)

One chronic problem for a person who has been abused is that if he/she attempts an intimate relationship, any behaviour by the other person which remotely or paradigmatically resembles that the abuser will stir up all the overwhelming affect of the original experience. The response then will probably be a wish to withdraw protectively.

7. Sense of lineage

The person who has been abused by someone in the family will often wish to deny their lineage which will be associated with immense shame. This may be part of the reason why some abused people go through periods of wanting to cut of completely from their family.

If the family has been generally disordered in its boundaries, with much sexual confusion, if the sexual couple has been a parent and child, then instead of a sense of a line there will be a muddle. The sense of who one is and where one comes from will be blurred and confused.

(p. 41 to 48)