Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Multiple personality-Treatment, Loss (Psychology), Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984, Dissociative identity disorder, Ambiguous loss, Discourse


Although undergoing integration treatment and achieving intrapsychic integration is widely considered an unmitigated positive outcome for individuals diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, the literature suggests that integration, which may include experiences or perceptions of loss, may be an outcome of far more complicated and varied resonance than is generally acknowledged. This theoretical study examines this little-examined element of the treatment outcome—the phenomenon of an individual's experience or perception of loss following integration treatment. The phenomenon is analyzed through two theoretical frames: (1) ambiguous loss theory, a conceptual framework developed by Pauline Boss to explain the experiences of arrested grief and unclear loss that often arise in conditions wherein a loved one is physically absent but psychologically present or physically present but psychologically absent (Boss, 1999); (2) a Foucauldian discursive analytic (2006 [1961]), through which the shifting discourse of DID classification and treatment are traced in order to de-center the predominant taken-for-granted discourse of DID and highlight the varied subjective experiences of postintegration. In so doing, this analysis aims to widen the discourse of DID such that it becomes more inclusive and reflective of a multiplicity of perceptions, experiences and conceptualizations of DID and integration treatment, thereby shifting the discourse away from the prevailing understanding of the phenomenology and treatment of DID, in which intrapsychic integration is widely considered to be a preferred treatment outcome with wholly positive effects.




iii, 110 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 99-110)