Bear High the Bold Riders, Gilligan and Alexander on Dissociation, Resistance and Connection: a New Theory of Counselling

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Kienzel, Olivia
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Carol Gilligan believes that human suffering stems from the Western cultural construction of a binary that forces little boys and adolescent girls to dissociate—both from themselves and others—and thus keep parts of themselves outside of relationship for the sake of having relationships. In turn, Bruce Alexander believes that addiction is on the rise in the West (and elsewhere) because of dislocation from community and the lack of psychosocial integration that results—which he sees as the result of globalization and the rise of market economies. This thesis seeks to synthesize these two theories into one, with relationship placed at the very heart of human experience—recognized as the irreducible building block not just of development but also of life. Reframed in this way, the author suggests that suffering can be viewed as a person's deeper self crying out in resistance to a rupture in relationship, and as an opportunity to see and heal the dissociation and dislocation so often demanded of us as children and adolescents. The author explores this new theory within its cultural context, suggesting how it might begin to inform counselling practice. These suggestions are offered with an eye toward not just the symptom reduction at the heart of the medical model, but also with the goal of encouraging holistic wellbeing and belonging in clients—and, inevitably, in the rest of society.
disassociation, relationships