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Vehement emotions and trauma-generated dissociation: A Janetian perspective on integrative failure

Abstract : As the construct trauma-generated dissociation has received a wide range of meanings in recent years, it may be fruitful to re-visit Pierre Janet's original views. Having been the first researcher to study this phenomenon in depth, he concluded that so-called vehement emotions, that is, those that arise when a major challenge is beyond the individual's capacity for efficient and effective action, entail an integrative failure that involves a disaggregation or dissociation of the personality, especially as part of traumatic experiences. This involves a division of the personality into different subsystems, each with its own sense of self and first-person perspective, manifesting in a range of positive and negative dissociative symptoms. This dissociation involves lower-order integrative actions, which substitute for a full integration of the personality but may have survival value. Not only a lowered integrative capacity, but also a range of inner-directed phobias, play a role in the maintenance of the dissociation of the personality. Therapy, as Janet saw it, needs to aim at heightening the integrative capacity, at overcoming these phobias and, similarly, at improving adaptive actions. This goal may best be achieved through the fostering of so-called empowering of “sthenic” emotions.
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Contributor : Jenny Ann Rydberg <>
Submitted on : Monday, September 21, 2020 - 1:09:59 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, January 10, 2021 - 10:18:40 PM




Onno van der Hart, Jenny Ann Rydberg. Vehement emotions and trauma-generated dissociation: A Janetian perspective on integrative failure. European Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 2019, 3 (3), pp.191-201. ⟨10.1016/j.ejtd.2019.06.003⟩. ⟨halshs-02944294⟩



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