Review: Interview with Valerie Wolf – “Dissociation is the most creative coping skill that I have ever seen”

Wayne Morris (interviewer): This whole process of dissociation seems to be more of a defense mechanism to trauma, than a so-called disorder …

Valerie Wolf: Absolutely. It is the most creative coping skill that I have ever seen. It is unbelievable how well it functions for people.

I just read this incredible interview with Valerie Wolf, a social worker and therapist who treats survivors of severe trauma and mind control. She has done groundbreaking work at the forefront of trauma research for perhaps 30 years. Her work has generally been years ahead of what eventually became “current convention”.

I simply do not have the energy to give this interview the full review it deserves, but I wanted to pull out some very specific terrific points, and then direct you to the transcript of the entire interview.

While a primary topic is mind control, her work and conclusions are very applicable to individuals who develop DID in less horrific ways. Because I am quoting some long passages, I will use a different color than the right shifted quote blocks to save your eyeballs. Bold emphasis is mine.

“[This] is the premise I operate from … I know from doing the trauma work that people really know what they need to do to heal … all you have to do is really listen through what they are saying because they are telling you all the time what they have to do to heal so you let them take the lead.”

“The other thing is that with DID … I know there is someone in the system … I didn’t know it concretely, but I sensed it … there was a feeling that there was a part behind the scenes directing the process and that I could trust that part to know what it is we needed to do. I have always known that … that people know what they need to do to heal. … I form a partnership so that if we design an intervention or if a memory comes up, or something comes up, we together figure out how we are going to deal with it. “

I agree with most of this – That “part” she speaks of is often within me, it may not always be the same part, but I often get these disjointed voices telling me what I aught to do. Cutting through the cacophony – almost like the “Alas Babylon” (previous post) from withinside me – this is what we need to do. Unfortunately, sometimes that part who made the “partnership” with the therapist/friend/etc. cannot get through to the alter in control.

Abreaction Therapy – is reliving the memories really the way to go?

Valerie found that many patients have the need to find and relive the trauma memories, to get through it, out the other side. A caution is that this can just re-traumatize, which does happen. She stresses that the work has to go one step further – gaining present-day knowledge from the memory.

“But my view is we are looking for the knowledge, we are looking for what … specifically happened to produce behaviour in the here and now, or thoughts or feelings … and I find that once people get that information, what happens is they go “Oh, okay” and they don’t have to do it anymore.”

Learning what causes present-day triggers. Doesn’t mean you can suddenly deal with them, but understanding, intellectually, seems necessary a first step.

Why amnesia barriers are erected

For all of you doubters, Valerie’s description of that initial split is so clear and compelling. She calls dissociation “a wonderful coping strategy… the most creative coping skill that I have ever seen” – her clear care and concern for her patients and her work just makes me want to cry that someone with this experience and expertise is trying so hard to help those like me. And to communicate it so clearly so others can understand. Removing the stigma.

“[T]he way I have come to understand DID or fuzzy DID … basically what you have is a part that is the core birth personality — the original personality born into the body, not a baby as was commonly thought and it would make sense that it is not a baby … you have a very small child. [T]he easiest way I can explain it is that there is abuse in the family so what happens is, “this person who is abusing me, I also have to love them.”

“Little kids, under the age of five, can’t handle ambivalence really well so what they will do is actually create a part that has the ability to take the hurt, and be hurt, and they will create a part that says “I love you” whoever it is that … so they can hold these two mutually incompatible thoughts and feelings at the same time.

“There has to be amnesia between them, because the part that is being hurt would be too confused by having to love this person who is hurting them and the part that has to love would be confused being hurt, so there has to be an amnesia barrier there. And that’s the purpose.

This is a terrific description of how the separation of memories and personalities begins. That there has to be separation, otherwise the love-hate conflict cannot be comprehended or reconciled by a child.

“As time goes on, and there is more abuse, and it is prolonged, a child naturally creates more and more personalities and all of the personalities have a job … they are created for a purpose … it’s either to hold memories, or feelings because in an abusive family or situation kids are not allowed to have feelings … if they cry they get hurt; if they get angry they get hurt; so they have to create parts to hold the feelings. If you are being hurt at home, you have to create parts that will go to school and function that will deal with the outside world.

“[A]nd the core birth personality therefore is always protected and allowed to grow up fairly normally. Now what will happen is, you will be presented with somebody who looks kind of flat, who doesn’t have a lot of feeling, who seems kind of pale and passive … the reason is that all of the things that make for character have been split among the parts. So when she needs anger, she switches or blends, with a part. That’s how all of that develops.”

Wow. This mechanism is exactly what happened to me, even though the specifics in this example are not exactly my story. But the “crap” before age 5 seems to be a critical common denominator in the development of full DID that we all share.

Sharing memories among parts and the like

Valerie also discusses memory access among the alters, and how memories are eventually shared. This is a much larger topic I have touched on before, and would like to write at length on at a later time. But her info is great.

Other topics include:

  • Finding that “safe place” and apparently we all have them even if we don’t realize it.
  • Positive outcomes of the debacle with False Memory Syndrome Foundation and legal issues
  • More on mind control and programming
  • “Patients” purposely manipulating therapists for legal means
  • Valerie’s testimony in presidential hearings on human radiation experiments (1995)

[1] CKLN FM 88.1Toronto, Ontario, Canada, International Connection. (1997). Interview with Valerie Wolf M.S.W., Ryerson Polytechnic University, Producer: Wayne Morris, accessed online from


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