Dissociation: Perceptual control theory as an integrative framework for clinical interventions

Warren Mansell, Timothy A. Carey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Using Perceptual Control Theory (Powers, Clark, and McFarland, 1960a, b; Powers, 1973, 2005, 2008), this chapter focuses on the phenomena that are described under the umbrella of ‘dissociation’ and concentrates on defining when, how, and why, these phenomena would be significant problems. it is widely accepted that dissociative experiences lie on a continuum with normal experiences (ray, 1996). This chapter provides a framework for these normal processes, illuminating when they present as significant problems and how to treat them. We conclude that dissociation represents functional splits within the mind. These splits become a clinical problem when they disrupt the individual’s capacity to realize important personal goals (e.g. to maintain a social identity, to form close relationships, to keep safe). Therapy involves helping the person to become more aware of the dissociation process and to let go of rigid ways of controlling it (e.g. social withdrawal, selfcriticism). Techniques from Method of Levels cognitive therapy (Carey, 2006) are designed for this purpose, as well as established techniques. Awareness allows more flexible control over dissociative experiences, so that the experiences and attempts to manage them no longer inhibit pursuit of important life goals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCognitive Behavioural Approaches to the Understanding and Treatment of Dissociation
EditorsFiona Kennedy, Helen Kennerley, David Pearson
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780203502082
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


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