Phoebe Prince-A Dissociative Perspective
If unhealed, our wounds keep us living in the past (Myss)
This is in response to your coverage of the Phoebe Prince case. I would like to offer a dissociative/trauma perspective specific to Phoebe’s victimization. As you discovered and I speculated, she had prior self-destructive behaviors including self-mutilation and suicide attempts. This would highly suggest that she had an earlier childhood trauma, most likely in the pre-conventional stage of development; under the age of seven or eight.
It’s the unresolved emotional pain from childhood abuse that manifests in dramatic form during adolescence. The three main manifestations of childhood trauma is that victims remain in victim roles; victims become victimizers; and or self destructive behaviors which include drug and alcohol problems; self-mutilation, suicide attempts, and self starving. A tenet of dissociation theory is that we unconsciously seek out situations that are reminiscent of our original trauma in these various roles even though we may be amnestic for that trauma. Ninety per cent of my juvenile offenders are amnestic for their original trauma which is the source and cause of their acting out behavior. Many of my female survivors found themselves during early adolescence involved in a highly risky sexual situation, not understanding that it was a reenactment of an earlier sexual trauma.
I am in no way blaming the victim or pointing the finger to her parents. Many of my victims of childhood trauma in my practice were not abused within the biological family. Dissociation theory gives us the reasons Johnny acts out sexually with his stepsister. It explains why Sue remains in abusive relationships. It explains why victims become the bully as a feudal attempt to conquer and triumph over their powerlessness from their own victimization. Bullies also born from spoiled kids who develop narcissistic rage.
The dissociative research provides clear distinctions with regard to signs and symptoms for trauma versus clinical syndromes. The healing of childhood wounds requires a deeper healing process that uncovers and resolves the traumata safely and tolerably. Medicines never fix the trauma and are often ineffective in symptom relief. As long as the trauma is unresolved, there will be a compulsion to repeat the trauma.