Reflections on the wild growth of the Imaginary in Dissociative Identity Disorder: An approach from the mechanism of identification

One of the most striking phenomena of recent psychiatric history is the quasi-epidemic increase in diagnosed cases of Dissociative Identity Disorder (the former Multiple Personality Disorder). Several critics have argued that the disorder is created in therapy or is generated by media attention to the disease. This paper investigates the creation of DID from a psychoanalytical standpoint. The main focus of the paper is on the notion of identity and the way in which we acquire an identity (identification). It is argued that an identity is not a unified structure but a collection of different partial identifications. Furthermore we focus on the difference between symbolic and imaginary identification. This also provides a clue for understanding what happens in the therapy of DID patients. The appearance of alter-egos is considered to be the result of an uncontrolled increase in imaginary identifications. Lacan’s L-schema indicates which position the therapist should take in order to prevent this uncontrolled growth of the imaginary.

Psychoanalytic Pedagogy put to the Test through the Work in ‘Zonnelied’

In this contribution the possibility of a psychoanalytic pedagogy is tested by the practical experience of work in Zonnelied, a residential setting for mentally disabled persons, some of whom also have psychiatric or behavioural problems. The author classifies the way of working within Zonnelied as directive, educational and supportive while being informed by the ethics of psychoanalysis. The following topics are discussed and illustrated with clinical fragments: how the structure of the institution functions as an instrument for the education of patients and as anchoring point for patients as well as for members of the team; patients’ identification with their negligent parents; the provision of points of reference within and beyond the community; the particular history of the patients and patterns of repetition; and, a continuous interrogation by team members of their own desire to educate.