Sunday, January 31, 2010

Procrastinating Divorce

I have moved this blog to its companion website at Please click on this site to see the latest description of psychotherapy work

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Posts

For those of you who have been following my blog here, it has now changed homes. It appears on The difference in the URL is the change from .com to .org. Today's blog describes the beginning of treatment of a single individual who knew he was going to get a divorce but couldn't move himself to take action. Treatment took three sessions.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Moving Blog to New Website

For those who follow my blog here, I am moving it from dot com to dot org: I intend to include it on the site where I will offer my book. Please be patient if the "subscribe" button is not yet accepting subscriptions.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Historical Origins of Parts Psychology

The 20th century appearance of Parts Psychology seems to have its roots in the work of psychiatrist Morton Prince who, writing in 1925, took the position that the personality is naturally multiple. He suggested that the normal person has many parts (“sides”) of his/her personality. Further, he suggested that these parts were not very different from the parts found in Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). Hypnosis was the means he used to discover and describe the inner world of a person’s personality parts. We know that he was well versed in the symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder because he provided one of the first well documented descriptions of the condition. His book describing his years of work with his patient, “Miss Beauchamp,” was published in 1906. Unfortunately, further significant work in parts psychology yielded to the development of Freudian psychoanalysis, as this set of exciting new ideas swept America and Europe.

Then, in the 1970s John and Helen Watkins began to develop what they called “Ego State” therapy. They used hypnosis, as did Morton Prince before them, to enable their clients to discover and work with their hidden selves. Between Prince and the Watkinses Roberto Assagioli, working in Italy, developed what would become an internationally recognized approach, “Psychosynthesis,” which acknowledged the presence of parts (“subpersonalities”) in all of us. Finally, in the 1980s Richard C Schwartz developed his “Internal Family Systems” model which demonstrated that the normal parts of the average person could be accessed and worked with without the use of hypnosis. My approach to Parts Psychology is most strongly influenced by the work of Richard C Schwartz and by the work of John and Helen Watkins.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Parts Psychology in the Treatment of Eating Disorders (Bulimia)

Following up last week’s blog on the kinds of clients for whom Parts Psychology may be helpful, I provide another short sketch of a patient who benefitted a great deal from this kind of work. After six months of therapy she graduated herself with the strong sense that she had largely healed herself of her decades-long problem with bulimia. Central to the success of the therapy was the processing of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse during childhood. She was not, however, abnormally dissociative, as in Dissociative Identity Disorder. Her dissociation test scores fell within the high average range. The two most important internal parts in the successful treatment of the bulimia were a three-year-old and a 12-year-old subpersonality.

Maria was 46 years, divorced, and living with her fiancé when she first brought her 12-year-old son to treatment for his social withdrawal and uncontrolled rages. When, after four months of treatment, her son graduated from therapy, Maria revealed that she had issues of her own that she wanted to resolve. Chief among them was her lifetime eating disorder. She was an attractive woman who dressed to accentuate her beauty. She was also slim and looked 10 years younger than her actual age; however, she had managed to resist the weight that normally comes with middle age only through regular purging of the contents of her stomach through self induced vomiting. She had purged nearly every day of her life, often as many as four or five times, for the last 30 years. She thought that it was now time to heal herself of this problem. She had worked with many other therapists over the years with little success, although she believed she had gained a great deal of insight into herself. Now, having seen her son respond so quickly to Parts Psychology, she hoped to find similar success for herself. Six months of once-a-week therapy is fairly typical in the treatment of major problems when there is no extreme dissociation present. The existence of subpersonalities is normal for all humans and does not indicate in itself that a person is abnormally dissociative.