Welcome everybody to the Chicago Psychology Podcast. It’s my pleasure and honor to be interviewing Dr. Dan Brown. Dan is the author of Attachment Disturbance in Adults, Treatment for Comprehensive Repair. He’s the co-author of that book with David S. Elliot, I want to give him credit as well. He’s also the author of numerous other books, one of which has won an award I believe for forensic work with hypnosis and trauma. Is that correct?
It’s called Memory Trauma Treatment, & The Law. It won seven awards and one was the Good Mark Award from the American Academy of Psychiatry in Law and the American Psychiatric Association for the best legal contribution.
For those of you who are interested in those subjects I would recommend picking it up. Today Dr. Brown and I will be discussing Dissociation, Trauma, and Attachment in human-beings. Maybe we can just kind of launch into that and start the discussion.
There are two things I want to start with about Dissociation, the first is that Dissociation is sometimes an important part of traumatization and sometimes it is not. Some of the best work on that was done by neuroscientist Ruth Lanius in Ontario.
What she found was there are two different types of traumatization. About 70% of people who were traumatized present with what she calls ‘Hyper-aroused Predominant PTSD.’ The dominant symptoms are;
· Re-experiencing symptoms of unwanted memories
· Unwanted flashbacks, unwanted feelings about the traumatization.
· Hyper-arousal symptoms: high physiological arousal: response to triggers to the trauma: startle sensitivity; things like that.
The other groups of people which is about 30% of people have ‘Dissociation Predominant PTSD.’ What she found is the neuro-circuitry of both of those groups are quite different from one-another. For example, in the hyper-aroused group the main neuro circuitry of trauma is an unremitting Amygdala response, which is the fear arousal center of the brain.
The failure to dampen that by the media pre-frontal cortex which is usually associated with sense of self so you don’t get top-down regulation over Amygdala of the fear response part of the brain, so you get unremitting fear response.
The ‘Disassociation Predominant PTSD’ has completely different circuits involved with it. If the main aspect of the Disassociation is dissociative amnesia for the trauma then the circuitry associated with Emotional Memory goes down. There are two integrated circuits involved with Dissociative Amnesia;
1) The right Temple Parietal System which is Emotional Memory. So, when you activate an emotional memory from long-term memory that system gets activated and it retrieves the memory
2) The other is Sense of Self, which is the medial Pre-frontal Cortex. So, when you have a memory two things happen;
· You remember the memory of the emotional event and you can say ‘this happened to me.’ Those two circuits go back online, the medial pre-frontal cortex and the right temple parietal system.
· However, when somebody has ‘Dissociative Predominant PTSD’ then they have strong Dissociative Amnesia they either, don’t activate their right temple parietal system, which means there is no emotionality of the memory. They might activate the left temple parietal system, which is the Semantic memory, so they have an abstract idea about the memory but no feeling about it
· Or they won’t activate the medial pre-frontal cortex, which mean they’ll have the memory and they can’t say ‘it happened to me.’
Now what ‘Dissociative Predominant PTSD’ shows in terms of neuro-circuitry is, something that Pierre grandfathers Dissociation said 150 years ago. He said, “When people dissociate from a traumatic event, they make the event unreal emotionally and they can’t say it happened to me, and they distance themselves from it.
Sp. he thought the essential features of treatment were what he called Personification and Realization, Personification means you can say that this trauma happened to me, this event happened to me and Realization means you can bring forth the memories and all the reality of that into your mind.
Full Interview Available in the PDF Download