(named 6 because is being formed in folder for manuscript 6)

At times, the mind cannot organize itself effectively in response to experiences.  Such experiences are traumatizing, in that they overwhelm the mind’s ability to adapt….in the case of disorganized attachment, some interpersonal experiences result in the mind’s becoming unable to form a cohesive and adaptive state.  In this situation, the mind enters a chaotic, disorganizing state of activations lacking cohesion.  The noncohesive characteristic of such a state may itself actually become a trait of the individual.  Disorganization or disorientation becomes a repeated pattern of activation or state of mind.  This may explain the acquisition of dissociation as an adaptation to stress seen in those with histories of disorganized attachments.  (siegel.tdm/211).”

(came from chapter 46 on states of mind)


copied over to here from chapter 46 states of mind, is there, too

….repeated states of activation at critical early periods of development shape the structure of neuronal circuits, which then form the functional basis for enduring patterns of states of mind within the individual.  (Siegel/tdm/219)



from Siegel and Hartzell, Parenting from the Inside Out/PIO


“When children’s attachment needs are unmet and their parent’s behavior is a source of disorientation or terror, they may develop a disorganized attachment.  Children with disorganized attachment have repeated experiences of communication in which the parent’s behavior is overwhelming, frightening, and chaotic.  When the parent is the source of alarm (siegel/PIO/105) and confusion, children are in a biological paradox.  The biological system of attachment is constructed to motivate the child to seek proximity, to get close to a parent at a time of distress in order to be soothed and protected.  But in this situation the child is “stuck” because there is an impulse to turn toward the very source of the terror from which he or she is attempting to escape.  This is what attachment researchers Mary Main and Erik Hesse have called “fright without solution.”  It is an unsolvable dilemma for the child who can find no way to make sense of the situation or develop and organized adaptation.  The only possible response of the attachment system is to become disorganized and chaotic. (all underlining & bolding is mine – siegel/PIO/106)”

High rates of disorganized attachment are seen in children who are abused by their parents.  Abuse is incompatible with parents’ providing children with a sense of security.  It fractures the relationship between child and parent and creates an impossible situation for the child’s mind by fragmenting a sense of self. Parental abuse has been actually shown to damage the areas of the child’s growing brain that enable neural integration. For children with disorganized attachment, impaired neural integration may be one mechanism that leads a child to have difficulty with regulating emotions, trouble in social communication, difficulties with academic reasoning tasks, a tendency toward interpersonal violence, and a predisposition to dissociation – a process in which normally integrated cognition becomes fragmented.  (siegel/PIO/106)”

“Disorganized attachment is also found in families where, even though physical abuse is absent, the child has repeated experiences in which the parent’s behavior is very frightening or in other ways disorienting to the child.  Parents who repeatedly rage at their children or become intoxicated may create a state of alarm that leads to disorganized attachment.  There is no solution to the paradox that your parent is creating a state of disorientation or terror in you that drives you to seek comfort from the very source of your fear.  The disorganizing experiences impair the child’s ability to integrate the functions of the mind that enable him to regulated emotions and cope with stress. (Siegel/PIO/106)”

“Why would parents treat their children like this? Research has demonstrated that a parent whose unresolved trauma or loss experiences (siegel/PIO/106) have not been worked through have a high likelihood of acting out behaviors that terrify their children and create a disorganized attachment for their offspring.  Having a history of trauma or loss does not by itself predispose you to having a child with disorganization.  It is the lack of resolution that is the essential risk factor.  It is never too late to move toward making sense of your experiences and healing your past.  Not only you but also your child will benefit.  (siegel/PIO/107)”

“The biological paradox of disorganized attachment experiences creates a response in the child that lacks organization and does not promote flexibility or enhance the capacity of the child to thrive.  (siegel/PIO/112)”

“Over time, with repeated experiences, these patterns become incorporated as a characteristic way of being with that parent.  These “ways of being” are adaptations or patterns of regulating emotion and intimacy that help to organize both the internal processes of the child’s mind and close relationships with others. [Or NOT organize them!] (siegel/PIO/112)”

can be different with different parents….for me, there was only the one

“A parent who is the source of alarm is placing the child in a conflictual experience and the child cannot make sense of the parent’s behavior.  A child is then faced with a stressful paradox that he cannot solve:  the parent to whom the child needs to turn to for comfort is now the source of fear.  The child is emotionally stuck and confused and his behavior usually deteriorates.  (siegel/PIO/158)”


This is copied also in SELF NOTES 6


Infants with disorganized attachments are unable to use either internal or external means to regulate their internal statesThey live in a chaotic internal world that reflects the external source of terror in the parents’ behavior, which is incompatible with attachment and (siegel/tdm/224) a sense of security.  These infants are prone to have fragmented self-organizational patterns; achieving a cohesive state of mind is quite difficult under stressful situations, especially those involving separation and threat…these children are vulnerable to developing dissociative disorders and are more likely to develop clinical symptoms in response to overwhelming experiences.  Reflective functioning may vary from state to state, as the parents may have been available in certain modes of being and quite threatening in other states.  [Whose states, the parents? Not clear] These children’s fragmented internal worlds come to resemble the fragmenting interpersonal communication that shapes the development of their minds. (siegel/tdm/225)”


“Other people may tend toward dissociative states in which the overall state of mind can only be organized by dis-associations of the component parts of mental functioning. (siegel/tdm/226)”  [copied here from chapter 46 States of Mind


When a brain remains stuck in a given state, such as depression, or exhibits dysregulated and abrupt shifts in state, such as in dissociation, this may be due to dysfunctional self-organization.  (siegel.tdm’228)”  [also is in chapter 46 states of mind and self notes 6]



“The imprint of a parent’s patterns of self-organization is manifested within a child’s own patterns of self-regulation.  In this way, (siegel/tdm/232) the joining of two systems into a single supersystem may continue to show its effects even when the child is away from the adult, or when the child has grown up.  For example, in children with disorganized attachments and in dissociative adults, their chaotic and terrifying experiences with caregivers may have become not only a part of their memories, but a part of the very structure of their self-(dys)regulation.  Such is the effect of early trauma on the developing mind.  (siegel/tdm/233)”


“In individuals with disorganized attachments, two major forms of dis-association can occur.  One is within a state of mind at a given time, in which there is a “strange attractor” state of widely distributed activations.  In the second form, cohesive states are dis-associated from one another across time; that is, there is a functional isolation of information transfer across states.  Cohesion is achieved only through the restriction in complexity achievable by this particular configuration of self-states.  (siegel/tdm/238)”



When I am under stress, I feel distressed.  My mind goes out of gear.  I cannot consider the appropriate aspects, the bigger picture, of a situation because I do not have access to all the relevant and important information.  Priorities are not clear.  I am taken over by my emotions.  I do not make good decisions or good choices.  I get confused.

I felt it out in that beet field at the end of the row when I was afraid and confused.  I did not know what to do next, and my reading of the available information – like the harvester’s hand signals, was wrong.  I could not bring to mind all that I knew about the situation from “before” the “accident.”  I reacted instantly from my own misperceptions, and my reading was the wrong one.

I do not do this consciously or intentionally or on purpose.  It happens so fast I am blind-sided.  I do not see it coming and I cannot prepare for these situations.  I dis-associate facts which leaves me in a vulnerable and risky situation.

I also am out of gear regarding my SELF – my goal directed self-state of raising children is gone, and I cannot find the next “gear.”  I am in neutral, which leaves me in chaos because “all possibilities” are present and I cannot make goal-directed decisions.

This is a “resource-less” state.  I cannot marshal resources if I can’t even tell where I am going or why.  I have no direction.  This is a directionless condition.  I am truly lost, as lost as I was out there in that pitch-dark beet field not knowing where the harvester was going or even if I was supposed to follow it.

I can only hope that knowing I am this lost is an asset.  But I need to go to a therapist at this point.  I need some guidance, and I cannot find it from within.  Nobody else can do this for me – I need a therapist to help me find that direction from within.

It is like my right brain overrides or short circuits my left brain. Had logic been available to me in that field, I could maybe have made a better, a right choice.  But I couldn’t.  I lost my bearings physically, mentally and emotionally. Like being in that huge truck and being out of gear and not being able to get it back into any gear.  But at least I still had steering and brakes.  Right now, I’m not sure that I do, personally.  That’s when things get really really scary.

It becomes impossible to prioritize because I can’t focus, not even on values and meaning.

Maybe goal-directed states of mind are the best I can achieve, but at least that would be something more than what I have right now.  Maybe I am permanently dis-associated and will never be able to link my self together – to have continuity or cohesiveness internally.  Maybe that is the permanent disability.


What Takes Over?

Infant Abuse, Dissociation and the Goal-Directed State of Being


IDEAL:  consistent, cohesive and continuous

flexible and balanced


(all one paragraph below)

(is copied from chapter 50 regulation)

“An example of the developmental origins of impaired self-organization can be seen within those with insecure attachments.

“With the experience of avoidant attachment, the mind learns to adapt to the barren psychological world by decreasing the awareness of socially generated emotional states.  [left brain?]  The rigidity of such a constrained pattern is revealed in the ways in which physiological responses continue to express the significance of social interactions, [right brain?] which are cognitively blocked from being processed.  (siegel/tdm/242)”

“In disorganized attachment experiences, the child acquires the ability to respond to stress with a dis-associaton of processes leading to dissociative states.  [what does he mean by “processes?”  Is this the “disorganized” pattern of adaptation? Does that mean that dissociation is never organized?  I am not sure I believe that!] Whereas some of these states are quite disorganized and incohesive, others have the appearance of functional cohesion.  Closer examination of even these dissociated states reveals a marked cognitive blockage restricting the overall processing of information and the flow of energy through the mind as a whole.  (siegel/tdm/242)”

“The apparently divergent avoidant and disorganized attachment patterns actually share the characteristic of restriction in the flow of states of mind…..during the early years of life, before adolescence, disorganized and avoidantly attached children have the greatest degree of dissociative symptoms….impairments to mental well-being may be understood as adapta- (siegel/tdm/242) tions that impair the balanced flow of energy and information in the formation of emerging states of mind.  (siegel/tdm/243)”


“Windows of tolerance may also be directly influenced by experiential history.  If children have been frightened repeatedly in their early history, fear may become associated with a sense of dread or terror that is disorganizing to their systems.  Repeated senses of being out of control – experiencing emotions without a sense of others (siegel/tdm/255) helping them to calm them down – can lead such persons to be unable to soothe themselves as they develop.  This lack of self-soothing can lead directly to a narrow window of tolerance.  When such a person breaks through that window, the result is a very disorganizing, “out-of-control” sensation, which in itself creates a further state of distress. (siegel/tdm/256)”  [copied to end notes chapter 21 from chapter 50 regulation]

I would think that it is at times such as these when the window of tolerance is surpassed, that an individual without ability to calm or soothe would be more likely to dissociate – again, another one of those vicious cycles and engrained feedback loops


“Studies suggest that the orbitofrontal cortex remains plastic throughout life; that is, it is able to develop beyond childhood.  The orbitofrontal cortex mediates neurophysiological mechanisms integrating several domains of human experience:  social relationships, the evaluation of meaning, autonoetic consciousness, response flexibility, and emotion regulation.  (siegel/tdm/285)” copied to ch 51 reg con’t


All one paragraph

“…interpersonal relationships can provide attachment experiences that can allow similar neurophysiological changes to occur throughout life.  In extreme cases of trauma, such as neglect or abuse, the deeper structures of the brain may be impaired to such a degree that improvement may be difficult to achieve.  Even in these situations, however, the principles learned from attachment research may perhaps still prove useful in organizing an approach to help people adapt to life’s stresses.  [Organize an approach to help the disorganized organize themselves – or reorganize themselves.}  “Studies suggest that the orbitofrontal cortex remains plastic throughout life; that is, it is able to develop beyond childhood.  The orbitofrontal cortex mediates neurophysiological mechanisms integrating several domains of human experience:  social relationships, the evaluation of meaning, autonoetic consciousness, response flexibility, and emotion regulation.  (siegel/tdm/285)”

“In many cases of disorganized attachment and clinical dissociation, for example, therapeutic relationships can facilitate effective movement toward well-being and adaptive self-regulation.  “Studies suggest that the orbitofrontal cortex remains plastic throughout life; that is, it is able to develop beyond childhood.  The orbitofrontal cortex mediates neurophysiological mechanisms integrating several domains of human experience:  social relationships, the evaluation of meaning, autonoetic consciousness, response flexibility, and emotion regulation.  (siegel/tdm/285)” [deeper structures of the brain did not develop well]  copied from chap 51 reg con’t

“In less extreme cases, the deeper structures of the brain may have developed well, but the states of mind that have been engrained may be maladaptive.  For these people, therapy may help to move the systems of their minds toward more adaptive modes of processing information and regulating the flow of information.  (siegel/tdm/285)”

[So for those worst cases, the states of mind are ALSO maladaptive]

“Sometimes specific techniques within a psychotherapy relationship are needed to alter engrained patterns of emotion dysregulation.  The patient-psychotherapist relationship may provide a sense of proximity, a safe haven, and an internal model of security.  These elements of an attachment relationship, within therapy or other emotionally engaging relationships such as romance and friendship, may possibly facilitate new orbitofrontal development and enhance the regulation of emotion throughout the lifespan.  (siegel/tdm/285)”


copied from pre notes chapter 26 attachment rupture and repair

(all one paragraph below)

Unresolved parental trauma or loss can lead to disorganized/disoriented attachment, which is a much more chaotic form of dyadic system than either avoidant or ambivalent attachment.  (siegel/tdm/294)”

“For the person who has experienced disorganized attachment [or does so in the present!], the experience of parental fear or fear-inducing behavior has often been associated with the parent’s lack of resolution of trauma or loss.  That is, the incoherence of the parent’s life narrative has been behaviorally injected into the child’s experience by way of the parent’s own disturbance in self-organization and the resultant dysregulated states and disorienting actions.  (seigel/tdm/294)”

These parental behaviors, which are incompatible with providing a sense of safety and cohesion, are “biological paradoxes” and directly impair the developing child’s affect regulation, shifts in states of mind, and integrative and narrative functions.  The result is that the child enters repeated chaotic states of mind.  (siegel/tdm/294)”

“From a dynamical point of view, these can be considered “strange attractor states” – neural net configurations [as in states of mind] that are widely distributed throughout the system and that have become engrained, repeated states of dissociated and dysfunctional activation.  (siegel/tdm/294)”

[Oh, great!  Isn’t this just a lovely legacy!  I should be grateful that siegel at least included the above (all one) paragraph devoted to the demise of the absolutely innocent infant under worst case influences!]


“Unresolved trauma or loss leaves the individual with a deep sense of incoherence in autonoetic consciousness, which tries to make sense of the past, organize the present, and chart out the future.  This lack of resolution can produce lasting effects throughout the lifespan and influence self-organization across the generations.  (siegel/tdm/297)”



both below are part of same paragraph

“…the foundation of the mind…{emanates] from patterns in the flow of energy and information.  Experience…activates neurons in such a manner that genes may become expressed and ma produce alterations in neuronal connectivity.  Information is transferred by the assembly of neural circuits into recruited clusters of activation that become functionally linked.  This information transfer itself creates new representations and mental states.  When new elements of informational processing are recruited into a new state of the system, this linkage of differentiated elements into a functional whole occurs and is the essence of integration…. normal development appears to move in the direction of more differentiated and integrated states. (siegel/tdm/306)”

[So when this process is disrupted, the new must not become linked to the old.  Everybody continues to have new experiences, but it must be that this is the process that gets most messed up]

“Such a flexible process…becomes disrupted in childhood trauma and in suboptimal attachment experiences.   (siegel/tdm/306)”


all this is one paragraph in siegel

“The capacity to link a widely distributed array of neural processes can be proposed to be mediated by neuronal fibers that serve to interconnect anatomically and functionally distributed regions of the brain.  (siegel/tdm/306)”

“In this manner, differentiated information processing modes, such as different sensory modalities, can become functionally linked.  This basic neuronal process may also help us to understand, for example, how highly engrained mental states, such as those of fear and shame, may become, or fail to become, integrated with the flow of the system’s complex states.  (siegel/tdm/306)”

[so this is where dissociation can occur!  It happens when highly engrained mental states don’t get linked or integrated with the flow of the system’s complex states.  Then it is like having a million little islands in a chain that are in the general vicinity of one’s self, but are not connected in one solid land mass like they are with other people.  And there’s no clear way to get from one island to another.  And sometimes you just end up on one of them with no idea how you got there, or really even any idea where this island is LOCATED in relation to the rest of them]

“For example, we’ve seen that certain suboptimal attachment experiences produce multiple, incoherent working models of attachment and engrained and inflexible states of mind that remain unintegrated across time within specialized and potentially dysfunctional self-states.  We can propose that the creation of new neuronal linkages, then, allows the internal constraints of the dynamical system of the brain to change.  New interconnecting neuronal linkages may thus serve to integrate not only anatomically independent processes, but functionally isolated ones such as engrained mental states that have produced inflexibility and impairments into the system’s capacity to adapt.  (siegel.tdm/306)”


In addition, when we are not organized cohesively and instead suffer from non-linkages and dissociation, we have chains of islands rather than one large cohesive land mass.  When we are in relationship with people who have the same problem themselves, not only are our own islands of the self not linked, but theirs aren’t either.  Then it gets really confusing on which “state” of ourselves we are in and what “state” they are in – and how do we link with them or ourselves this way?  [copied from chap 49 interpersonal]


“Disturbances in mental health…may emanate from recursive processes that impair this natural movement toward integration by fixing the system’s flow in the maladaptive direction of excessive rigidity or chaos.  Fixed constraints to the system, either internal or external, may create an inflexible state for the individual.  Normal development may thus continue to promote integration throughout life if it is unimpaired by elements of our constitution, experiential history, or ongoing interpersonal relationships.  (siegel/tdm/308)”  copied over to dissociation notes 6


copied from ch 49 interpersonal


[In addition, when we are not organized cohesively and instead suffer from non-linkages and dissociation, we have chains of islands rather than one large cohesive land mass.  When we are in relationship with people who have the same problem themselves, not only are our own islands of the self not linked, but theirs aren’t either.  Then it gets really confusing on which “state” of ourselves we are in and what “state” they are in – and how do we link with them or ourselves this way?]  [copied into dissociation notes 6]

[When we know someone well enough to know what their consistent “state of mind” of self is usually like, we can spot the inconsistencies when they show up and know that a disassociated state of mind, or state of self that is not integrated with the whole is in action.  I suspect with Ernie that he has multiple states of dissociated states of mind, or states of self.  One with Suzi, one with Mari, one with work, one out in the bars catting around, one with me.  What I experienced on Friday when I called him to wish him well with his surgery and he hung up on me abruptly and rudely was that the state of mind self he was currently involved with was so far removed from the one that he has with me that the two were in direct conflict with one another.  The fact that a person has nonintegrated dissociated states of mind of self at all means that there is some form of inherent conflict present between the two that has prevented and continues to prevent them from being integrated – and therefore placed into a coherent and cohesive form – with one another.]

[I would suspect that each of the dissociated states of mind of self has its own sense of time – past, present and future – as well as its own assigned value, intensity, specificity – that may be quite “out of sync” with any main systems that exist separately.  When the “switching” occurs, a person and those around them may be taken completely by surprise by the changes that have occurred in any given split instant.  These are separate and separated states of energy and information –But I suspect that each of them has their own logic and “rightness” to serve whatever purpose they have in being “themselves” with their own identity.  They each of their own rigid boundaries that define the parameters of their existence.  There is, in effect, no “united states.”]


[It would all probably be about a sorting, storage, integration and retrieval problems, then – as well as discovering how various dissociated states of mind of self are probably organized around or in close proximity to one another – closely associated states of dissociated aspects of the whole self.

These independent autonomous self states  are no doubt part of the whole self, but the whole self does not know it and neither does the self of each of these individual states of self.  There is an “ownership” problem and an identification problem – as well as a BELONGING problem – where do these states belong and who do they belong to?  Again, “I turned around to look and I was gone!”


resilience or vulnerability AND WELL-BEING

following is all one paragraph  — all copied from chp 49 interpersonal

Not all individuals are able to find emotional well-being in integrating multiple self-states into a coherent experience of the self.   From early in development, the resolution of multiple models of attachment may be one of the determinants of later developmental outcome.  Particular forms of self-states may have been constructed in relationship to different caregivers, resulting in potentially conflictual conditions.  (siegel/tdm/310)”

This happened for me certainly with my public and private mother – so the model of attachment I had with her would have been terribly confusing!  I would also have primarily used my relationship with my toddler brother to learn how to talk, and to be my “self” at all – and what happens then, when the mind one is in contact with is so very young itself?

Within a given state, there may be cohesive functioning; across these self-states, however, spatiotemporal integration may not be possible, given the inherent incompatibility of mental models, drives, and modes of emotion regulation.  (siegel/tdm/310)”

“Experiences within relationships and the ways in which the mind comes to create a coherent perspective, access to information, and models of such experiences are important variables in determining emotional resilience or vulnerability.  (siegel/tdm/310)”

“In other words, an integrative process across self-states may be essential in the acquisition of well-being.  The capacity for such internal integration may be intimately related to interpersonal experience – derived initially from attachment relationships, and later shaped by individuals’ ongoing involvement with parents, teachers, and peers.  (siegel/tdm/310)”


Following is all one paragraph – all copied from time notes 8

“What does integration at a given time or across time look like?  We can propose the following possibilities.  Synchronic integration involves the elements…which create a cohesive mental state.  Various aspects of neural activity are clustered together with a functional state of mind as a part of vertical, dorsal-ventral and lateral integration in a given moment in time.  (siegel/tdm/311)”

“At another level, we can suggest that as the individual’s states of mind flow across time, diachronic integration somehow “links” these together in a manner that facilitates flexible and adaptive functioning.  This is an example of spatiotemporal integration.  Such cross-time integration serves as a mechanism of self-regulation, in that it serves to organize the flows of states.  (siegel/tdm/311)”

“…complex systems can function as a cohesive state – a form of synchronic integration as we are defining it here…the mind may create coherence across time through diachronic integration.  As time itself flows, it is in fact difficult to distinguish between cohesion in the moment and coherence across time.  In the physical world, when does a “moment” actually end?  The complex system of the brain, however, has the capacity for abrupt shifts in state that more clearly define the neural edges of time.  Though time itself may have no clear boundaries, these neural shifts give a functional reality to the temporal contrasts between states.  In this manner, cohesion exists within a given state of mind as a form of synchronic integration.  (siegel/tdm/311)”

“The recursive nature of systems establishes a continuity in a given self-state across time.  As a given state changes, it goes through a phase transition involving the temporary disorganization and then reorganization of the system’s stateIn contrast to cohesion of a given self-state, coherence is created across states of mind as a form of diachronic integration….such abilities to create coherence can be proposed to be a function of the individual’s experiential history, which enables the acquisition of a core integrative process.  (siegel/tdm/311)”


copied from prenotes ch 26 attachment

Moreover, the capacity to reflect on the role of mental states in determining human behavior is associated with the capacity to provide sensitive and nurturing parenting….this reflective function is more than the ability to introspect; it directly influences a self-organizational process within the individual…..the reflective function also enables the parent to facilitate the self-organizational development of the child….the coherent organization of the mind depends upon an integrative process that enables such reflective processes to occur….integrative coherence within the individual may early in life depend upon, and later facilitate, interpersonal connections that foster the development of emotional well-being.  (siegle/tdm/312)”


internal integration allows for vital interpersonal connections. (siegel/tdm/312)”


[How can incoherence be anything but some form of dissociation?]

The intergenerational transmission of suboptimal parenting within insecure attachments is thought to be due to the persistence of incoherent adult stances toward attachment.  Given the view that insecure attachment can be considered a risk factor for future difficulties, understanding the nature of coherence becomes a pressing concern for parents and mental health professions interested in early intervention and preventative measures.  (siegel/tdm/312)”

“What is incoherence of mind, and how can it be transformed (siegel/tdm/312) into coherence?  Incongruity, fragmentation, and restricted flow of information are the elements of such incoherence, as seen within the AAI narratives of individuals who are classified as dismissing [avoidant], preoccupied [ambivalent], and unresolved/disoriented [disorganized].


Integration can be proposed to be a key process that influences the trajectory of developmental pathways toward resilience or toward vulnerability….Those who are not fortunate enough to achieve this sense of coherence may live with adaptive selves whose goals are incompatible with each other; in such individuals, mental modules and the information they process create anxiety and conflict if shared across modalities.  For these people, emotional imbalance may be due to the inability to integrate the self diachronically [across time[ into a coherent whole….Most people experience some degree of conflict between inner desires and outer realities.  But at times these desires are a part of fairly distinct states of mind, which can remain out of the awareness of many (siegel/tdm/313) individuals.  Even without awareness, the mind may experience the emotional imbalance of such conflicts as the onset of depression, anxiety, uncontrolled rage, a feeling of meaninglessness and disconnection (as in a “false self”), loss of motivation, and interpersonal difficulties….Social contexts that force individuals to adapt via self-states that are not reflective of their own experiences [authentic] mental states, and needs may place these persons at higher risk of developing emotional disorders.  (siegel/tdm/314)”

“Attachment relationships may therefore serve as catalysts of risk or resilience, to the extent that they facilitate the flow of inauthentic versus authentic states within interactions with others.  We can propose that insecure attachments confer vulnerability because they fail to offer children interpersonal experiences that foster an integrative self-organizational process.  Later relationships with peers and teachers can also make a difference; interpersonal influences on the self-states that emerge to adapt to social contexts directly shape mental health. …resilience is not a trait or some fixed achievement, but is an emergent state function dependent upon self-organizational processes and continued interdependence within social connections.  (siegel/tdm/314)”

The capacity for self-integration, like the processes of the mind itself, is continually created by an interaction of internal neurophysiological processes and interpersonal relationships.  Resilience and emotional well-being are fundamental mental processes that emerge as the mind integrates the flow of energy and information across time and between minds [and within one’s mind].  (siegel/tdm/314)”


“As Ogawa and colleagues have paraphrased the work of Loevinger, “Integration is not a function of the self, it is what the self is.”  They go on to state, “Therefore, the failure to integrate salient experience represents profound distortion in the self system.  When salient experience must be unnoticed, disallowed, unacknowledged, or forgotten, the result is incoherence in the self structure.  Interconnections among experiences cannot be made, and the resulting gaps in personal history compromise both the complexity and the integrity of the self.””  (siegel/tdm/314)

find this reference in siegel

Ogawa et all 1997 p 871, paraphrasing Loevinger 1976

Ogawa et all 1997 pp 871-872

Ogawa, J.R., Sroufe, L.A., et al 1997

Development and the gragmented self:  Longitudinal study of dissociative symptomatology in a nonclinical sample

Development and Pschopathology, 9, 855-880

Loevinger, J 1976

Ego development, san Francisco, Jossey-Bass


copied from ch 46 states of mind

At the transition between self-states, there may be a temporary disorganization or incohesion and discontinuity in the activity of the brain; however, once a new state of mind is instantiated, cohesion is reestablished.  (seigel/tdm/315)”

“Self-organization at the level of the mind must involve the integrative processing of these self-states across time and context.  It is at the moments of transition that new self-organizational forms can be constructed.  Indeed, integrating coherence of the mind is about sate shifts.  Congruity and unity emerge at the interface of how information and energy – the defining elements of the mind – flow across states.    (siegel/tdm/316)”


see important information under disorganized attachment in prenotes ch 26 attach


“For the child with disorganized attachment, in other words, relationship experiences have severely hampered the developmental acquisition of the capacity to achieve coherence.  The segmentation of mental processes becomes an engrained process itself:  dissociation.  (seigel/tdm/319)”


“What is dissociation?  Numerous books have been written about the conceptualization, history, genesis, evaluation, psychopathology, and treatment of dissociative disorders.  For the purposes of this chapter, let us look briefly at the self-organizational aspects of dissociative states of mind, and see how such states involve an impairment in the ability to achieve coherence of the self.  (siegel/tdm/319)”

“”Dissociation” is a term with many meanings.  Clinicians use the term to refer to a discontinuity in mental functioning that is a part of a number of disorders, such as panic, borderline personality, and posttraumatic stress disorders.  Dissociation includes the phenomena of depersonalization, derealization, and psychogenic amnesia.  The term is also used to refer to a specific group of clinical disorders, including dissociative identity disorder, dissociative fugue, dissociative amnesia, and depersonalization disorder.  In any of these latter conditions, there is a disruption in the integration of various processes, including memory, identity, perception, and consciousness.  (siegel/tdm/319)”

Clinical dissociation can be viewed as a dis-association in the usually integrative functioning of the mind.  How does this happen?  Mental functioning emanates from anatomically distinct and fairly autonomous circuits, each of which can be dis-associated from the function of the others.  Studies of a drug called ketamine demonstrate (siegel/tdm/319) that administering it to normal subjects leads to dissociative symptoms, such as depersonalization and derealization.  Subjects with prior histories of trauma experience the additional symptoms of terror and panic.  Ketamine blocks the transmission of signals across the synapses of large neurons, which are especially plentiful in the associational regions of the cortex.  This finding suggests that the disassociation of functions in dissociation may be mediated by a blockage in the integrative capacity of associational regions, which coordinate an array of neural pathways.  (siegel/tdm/320)”  copied to brain notes 8

“As an information-processing system, the mind has layers of representational processes that are created by various inputs from more and more complex representational levels.  Studies of brain function reveal that neural pathways have such layers of input, in which secondary and tertiary association areas link streams of neural activity into more and more complex networks of activation.  These processes in turn influence a widely distributed set of neural processes responsible for our emotional states, bodily response, reasoning, memory retrieval, and perceptual biases.  Regions of the brain such as the orbitofrontal cortex, which function to coordinate these disparate functions across time, may be proposed to play a crucial role in the integrative process.  Various mental processes may thus be functionally isolated from one another with the blockage of integrative circuits…these associational functions include social cognition, autonoetic consciousness, response flexibility, stimulus appraisal, and affect regulation.  Isolation of these functions may be at the core of incoherence during dissociative experiences.  (siegel.tdm.320)”  copied also to brainnotes 8


Within a given state, there may be cohesive functioning; across these self-states, however, spatiotemporal integration may not be possible, given the inherent incompatibility of mental models, drives, and modes of emotion regulation.  (siegel/tdm/310)”  copied fro ch 49 interpersonal systems



“The narrative process in this way attempts to make sense of the world and of one’s own mind and its various states.  In some individuals, however, one sees narratives that reflect upon a particular self-state without creating a more global coherence of mind as a whole.  The narrative process is thus a fundamental building block of an integrative mode, but insufficient by itself to create coherence across self-states through time.  [Plus people have a whole lot of denial and justifications and delusions about things] (siegel/tdm/324)”

see stuff on stories in brain notes 8 and in prenotes ch 45 and brain laterality



On page 316 of tdm/siegel refers to Allan Schore’s work on the term “self-organization” and introduces the idea through this of “the process of self-assembly.”

Schore:  “Development, the process of self-assembly, thus involves both progressive and regressive phenomena, and is best characterized as a sequence of processes of organization, disorganization, and reorganization.”

I think that for those of us with disordered associational abilities – or dissociation disorder – coming from a history of severe abuse from infancy – have an altered pathway or “sequence of processes” of self-assembly.

If our chronic condition is disorganization, then things are turned inside out.  Rather than organization and reorganization being our familiar state, the middle state of disorganization is our main state.  This state is, then, greatly expanded through continual use and reinforcement.  We are, then, people of transition.  If disorganization is a state people are supposed to pass through quickly on their way from one organized state to another, then we are really those with no place to “go.”  We have no real destination.  We are always in the process of being on the journey.  We are people of constant transition – being in a chronic state of distress!

As Siegel puts it:

“For other people, conflicts among different needs, mental models, and self-states may lead to internal distress or external difficulties that create dysfunction.  Such a conflict among self-states within an individual can create incoherence.  (siegel/tdm/316)”

The “disorganized” stage of the self-assembly process occurs when there is some conflict that is precipitating a required change in states, or between states.  This is a natural process as things in life are always changing and in a state of flux.  But when flexibility and a positive response pattern is not available, people such as we are “lost in the middle” trying to find our direction, destination and end goal.  We enter the blank state and get stuck there.  We are in a void that isn’t really a void.  It is chaos and we are confused.

This is a paradoxical situation similar to the one created for us in our infancy – we are supposed to “move” and respond in SOME way because our environment is demanding it.  Yet there is no obvious cause-effect relationship between what has happened in the environment and how we are supposed to react.  There is no clearly linked set of useful responses available to us.  We are supposed to DO SOMETHING and NOT DO SOMETHING at the same time.  Instead of moving from one organized state to another through a brief “normal” transitional phase of disorganization, we are supposed to move from one disorganized state into another disorganized state through this same brief “normal” transitional phase of disorganization.

From our experience, then, the transitional phase may almost be restful for us.  It is a stage where nothing is expected other than for the transition itself to occur.  Without a beginning or an end, we are perpetually stuck in the middle.

We have “dissociative adaptations.”  (siegel/tdm/317)  In cases such as mine, connections never happened in the first place.  This is a stark reality.  But if things are bad, and things are relative, then worst is one thing and just bad is another.  And there never was any repair.  Just nothing but rupture.  Nothing but the peritrauma of continual trauma.  No safety.  Nothing was safe.  Except my little brother and the occasional moments of contact I would have had with my father or grandmother – and because my mother controlled those so they barely existed at all – I was virtually left in a continual state of rupture without connection or repair.  All I would have had was the transitional times between truly horrifying and painful, and the temporary absence of horrifying and painful until the next outbreak.

The momentary absence of horror cannot be mistaken for a period of safety.  Not by the infant and not by anyone trying to connect to the reality of their plight.  The trauma is continuing to occur whether or not the perpetrator is physically present, or in temporary absence from, the infant.  This is the chronic peritraumatic state of acute stress.


I am visiting friends in northern Minnesota right now about 50 miles from the Canadian border.  I am thinking about this analogy.  When a person tries to wash a load of clothes in their washing machine, you have to pay close attention because every time it is time for the washing machine to go through a “state shift” from one cycle to another the little fuse on the plug on the wall blows itself and you have to go over to it and push the button to restart the washer.

There does not seem to be anything inherently wrong with the washing machine.  The problem must be in the plug.  But it makes me think about these transitional periods in the stages that one must go through to shift or change from one state of mind to another.  No matter how “functional” the washing machine is, each time the fuse blows nothing happens.  The washing machine is prevented from accomplishing its “goal” or its “mission.”  Another whole step has been introduced into the process by the need for an “outsider” who has to pay attention and then go push the fuse button.  Otherwise the machine will just stop and stay that way and it would accomplish nothing toward washing the clothes.

Siegel talks about “trance-like states” that a preoccupied parent can go into that frighten an infant.  It is like their fuse blows between state shifts and there you have it – nothing happens like it is supposed to!


I am also thinking about the child’s toy, the Potato Head family.  The process of assembling the heads and the faces is one thing (self-assembly).  How the parts of the head and face is assembled is another – specifically, if the eye is put where the nose should be and the ear is put where the eye should be – that is how things are organized – or mis-organized or disorganized– as a result of the assembly process.


Transitional states of disorganization are natural.  They are an ability the brain and mind have so that state shifts can occur.  There is nothing unnatural or “wrong” with them.  Just like there is nothing wrong with a washing machine going through a brief transitional pause as it changes itself from doing one thing in one cycle to doing the next necessary thing in its next cycle.

What becomes “wrong” is if the pauses become long term, happen randomly, unpredictably, and/or in unhelpful places – like the washer trying to spin itself when it is full of water rather than after it has pumped all the water out.

So it is a matter of what is happening and when in a cycle — or perhaps in an “hierarchy.”  It has to do with order and timing.  It has to do with purpose, intent, end goals.


Think again about the “trance-like states” a parent might go into.  They are like “on vacation” but there’s nothing restful about it!  Stress of some kind from a cue or trigger in their environment – internal or external – has alerted their “system” that a state change must or might need to occur.  So there’s a whole lot of consideration going on behind the scenes, although most of it will not be conscious.  There’s way too much to be considered, and “making a choice or a decision” becomes nearly impossible to do.

What if the washing machine “system” had to think about what to do when its energy source fails it?  What if it could think and had to say, “Oh, by golly, something is wrong here!  Is the problem with me?  I am on alert now and I have to determine if there is a problem, where it is and what I am supposed to do about it?  Am I in danger to myself or others?”

If the machine determined that the problem was with it, a different course of action would be required than if the problem was elsewhere.  What if the machine could not adequately sort all of this out?  What if it decides that the problem is in its switch.  What to do then?  What to do next, and next after that?  The right-hemisphere of a machine could go through all sorts of contortions.  “Do I tear all the wiring out of the house and look for the problem?  Do I move myself elsewhere?  Do I go find the power plant and fix this problem there?  Do I find a person there that did this to me and fire them?”

My, oh, my!  Without the orderly progression possible from input from the left-hemisphere nothing might get done at all!


I believe that for every abused infant-turned-adult that their brain was built upon uncertainty and terror.  Every circuit has terror built into it.  Every option has fear associated with it.  Every turn of the road holds potential for uncontrollable danger.  One has to continually force, on some deep level, a direction toward choice of movement not knowing if it will be effective in resolving the conflict that initiated even the most minor of state changes in the present.  Life can be exhausting!




I think this is connected to the “voice” I heard that time I was lying in bed – forced to be there – and the voice said, “It’s not humanly possible to e as bad as your mother says you are.”  I believe there was another time I heard that “voice” though at the moment I can’t think of the other one.  I’ve never had an explanation for what that “voice” was or where it came from – but I think Siegel’s description of this “hits the nail on the head.”

“A second source of information regarding an integrative mode of processing consists of studies of normal subjects in hypnotic or trance-like states.  In this condition, the vast majority of the population appears to have a third-party observing capacity, which has been called a “hidden observer,” “observing ego,” “internal self-helper,” or “inner guide.”  The hidden observer reveals itself under dypnosis or guided imagery as a form of mental output that makes comments about the person:  “Dan is working too much; he should slow down and relax more,” or “Her need to get this project done is interfering with her ability to exercise.  She should stop being so busy with the project.”  This function reveals the mind’s capacity for processing mindsight, representing states of mind, and processing the context of an experience over time.  Comments such as these, made under the hypnotic condition of focused internal concentration, are intended to alter the functioning of the individual as a whole.  This appears to be (siegel/tdm/324) not just an observing function (information representation), but also an effort to use this information to change other aspects of behavior (processing the information and causing further effects).  We can therefore view the hidden observer as an integrative attempt of the mind to create a sense of coherence across its own states through time and contexts.  (siegel/tdm/325).”

“…children develop the capacity at an early age to narrate their own lives from multiple perspectives, including the third-person, observer perspective.  Second, studies of memory reveal that people have the capacity for observer recollections in which they recall themselves from a distant perspective, seeing themselves in a scene from the past as if they were watching themselves from afar.  Furthermore, clinical studies of patients with a variety of disorders reveal an internal process that comments on ongoing experience.  In patients with dissociative disorders, an “internal self-helper” that attempts to coordinate some of the disparate activities of the mind is quite a common self-state.  Individuals with depression may experience an “internal voice” that is demeaning and pessimistic, and that further entrenches the negative, depressed mood.  (siegel/tdm/325)”

This makes me think about how I recall the memory of when my mother came to retrieve me from grandmother after Cindy was born.  I can review this memory from being inside the little girl laying on that huge bed, and seeing the two of them fighting down at the foot of the bed – or I can view the whole scene from a “floating place” up at the ceiling where I can look down both on them and on myself laying thre.

But I am not sure how this could be the same thing like the depressed voice he mentions above.  People can hear all kinds of “self talk” internally if they pay attention to it….why doesn’t he way more about this here, then?

Brian Vandenberg – examines relationship between hypnosis and developmental processes

1998,pp. 265, 266

“Hypnosis and human development:  Interpersonal influence of intrapersonal processes.

Child Development, 69, 262-267


I think it works both ways.  A person with a long history of dissociating is more than likely to display this state later upon new stresses.

The other side of this is that probably someone who also had a concurrent history of maintaining “goal directed states of mind” also has that skill to use later – like my having developed such a large “attachment” state of mind around the homestead – and then being able to form another such large “attachment” state of coherent mind around my being a mother.

Because this is about the exercise of the brain’s ability to recursively reinforce abilities that it has, and to “anticipate” situations where it can do AGAIN what it has done before —  in this case, either to dissociate or to ASSOCIATE states of mind around something valued.  For me it was first the homestead and then my children.

I think this is true and important and significant.

And just as I would not do something to hurt the homestead, I would not do something to hurt my kids – like suicide.


So borrowed attachment might be like having an attachment state of mind around single specific situations.  These then, with a dissociation disorder, create a situation where their attachment systems are not linked together.

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