[Clinical Handling of Patients with Dissociative Disorders].

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[Clinical Handling of Patients with Dissociative Disorders].

Seishin Shinkeigaku Zasshi. 2015;117(6):399-412

Authors: Okano K

Abstract
This paper discusses the way informed psychiatrists are expected to handle dissociative patients in clinical situations, with a specific focus on dissociative identity disorders and dissociative fugue. On the initial interview with dissociative patients, information on their history of trauma and any nascent dissociative symptoms in their childhood should be carefully obtained. Their level of stress in their current life should also be assessed in order to understand their symptomatology, as well as to predict their future clinical course. A psychoeducational approach is crucial; it might be helpful to give information on dissociative disorder to these patients as well as their family members in order to promote their adherence to treatment. Regarding the symptomatology of dissociative disorders, detailed symptoms and the general clinical course are presented. It was stressed that dissociative identity disorder and dissociative fugue, the most high-profile dissociative disorders, are essentially different in their etiology and clinical presentation. Dissociative disorders are often confused with and misdiagnosed as psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. Other conditions considered in terms of the differential diagnosis include borderline personality disorder as well as temporal lobe epilepsy. Lastly, the therapeutic approach to dissociative identity disorder is discussed. Each dissociative identity should be understood as potentially representing some traumatically stressful event in the past. The therapist should be careful not to excessively promote the creation or elaboration of any dissociative identities. Three stages are proposed in the individual psychotherapeutic process. In the initial stage, a secure environment and stabilization of symptoms should be sought. The second stage consists of aiding the "host" personality to make use of other more adaptive coping skills in their life. The third stage involves coaching as well as continuous awareness of their comorbid psychiatric conditions. Lastly, factors preventing the patients' smooth recovery process are mentioned. They include their contact with past and current aggressors, chronic and ongoing stress within the family, including abuse and violence, and comorbid conditions such as depression and chronic medical conditions.

PMID: 26524866 [PubMed - in process]