A Review and Glowing Endorsement for Dr. Jamie Marich's New Book, Dissociation Made Simple
Dissociation Made Simple is a must-read book for all. Dr. Marich has carefully and eloquently appealed to the larger public and society at large, as well as clinicians, and most importantly, anyone with a lived experience of a dissociative trauma response.
Jamie Pollack, founder and director of An Infinite Mind does a great job in sharing with the reader what can be expected from this book, stating "This book is a much needed blend of science and first-person accounts; It includes all voices...including indigenous and other marginalized populations, clinicians, and supporters; the combination of Western and Eastern views on dissociation."
Dr. Marich was brilliant in deciding to take a qualitative approach to this book, conducting 61 interviews, asking each participant the same core questions, which include the following (Marich, 2023, p. 17):
What motivates you to take part in this interview process? As part of this introduction, please summarize any information about your background that you feel is most important for us to know.
Based on your lived experience, how would you describe dissociation to someone if they asked you to explain it? How might you explain your specific diagnosis (if applicable)?
Based on your lived experience, how would you describe what's happening in your brain and in your body during dissociative experiences?
What are the most effective skills you've developed for yourself in order to keep yourself grounded or safe enough?
If you identify as having a parts system, how would you describe your system?
What if anything has been the most effective for you so far in your process of healing? This may include professional treatment interventions or other nonclinical pursuits.
You now have a platform to speak to all therapists, psychiatrists, and helping professionals everywhere. What best practices would you relay to them for working with people like you?
What do you feel is needed to break the stigma around dissociation and other mental health disorders at a societal level?
What are the positive aspects of living with a dissociative mind or dissociative experiences?
What other experiences, from your perspective might you want to share with others about any aspect of dissociation?
The contributors that participated in this qualitative study with Dr. Marich were incredibly brave and unapologetically authentic. Through their lived experiences I walked away with an even greater understanding of plurality, and diversity in the manifestations of dissociation. There is a section in chapter two, dedicated to exploring how dissociation shows up in a variety of diagnoses, as well as intersections with other diagnoses. Contributor Katarina Lundgren highlights the intersection of dissociation and neurodivergence so beautifully, as she shares "so what happens if a person with high autistic traits (hyperfocused, hyperemotional, hyper-sensitive, with hyper-memory) is severely abused? Then there would be even more dissociation, identity confusions, (which is also common in autism, like asking ---who am I?), more depersonalization and derealization (due to overwhelm), more panic in the system (Marich, 2023, p. 67)."
Chapter 3 of Dissociation Made Simple provides 101+ ways to ground. Dr. Marich breaks down what grounding is, recognizes how grounding may not be the best fit for everybody, and through the wisdom of all of the contributors, there are modifications and creative practices for connecting to the present moment that readers can find incredibly helpful and practical.
I am especially excited to explore with my clients chapters 4 and 5, where parts work and a dissociative profiles are explored. The soul of dissociation is really in these sections of this incredible project of love, that is this book. I'm looking forward to seeing how this non-pathological language and framework of viewing dissociation and parts will be utilized by others in society. I personally hope that medical schools, and all of the humanities include Dissociation Made Simple as part of their curriculum. I believe Dr. Marich acted as an advocate in choosing to include at the end of each chapter, questions to ask my therapist or psychiatrist. For individuals seeking a therapist or psychiatrist for the first time, I strongly urge you to buy this book, annotate, highlight, and bring this book with you as you search for the best team of providers to help you in reaching your wellness goals.
My only criticism of Dr. Marich's Dissociation Made Simple, is that in including information on the use of psychedelics and plant medicine, I failed to read a sentence on cautioning anyone with a strong genetic history of psychosis, to be very careful and mindful that perhaps psychedelics, and/or plant medicine may be too risky, and/or not a good fit for this specific population. In my practice of nearly 14 years, I have seen, read, and experienced that in the epidemiology of certain conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, there is a genetic component. Among my mother's 13 siblings, at least two siblings were diagnosed with schizophrenia, one with bipolar disorder, and another with schizoaffective disorder. If I was my own provider, I would strongly discourage my client from using psychedelics, due to the increased risks of negatively impacting their mental health.
In closing, Dr. Marich encourages us to consider a new narrative as we all stop to listen and learn more about trauma responses. In the conclusion of the book, I enjoyed reading the following:
"fifteen of our contributors used the word superpower to describe their dissociative tendencies and gifts. Our superpowers are anything that make us
different; different is good. Not only that, different is amazing! Different has
helped us to survive--and for many of us, our differences and unique sensibilities
allow us to thrive in our lives (Marich, 2023, p. 207)."
Lastly, Dr. Marich has included two appendixes, one for clinicians and therapists, and one for loved ones/friends/and connections of people with dissociative disorders and complex trauma. The message from the contributors to all therapists and professionals is to get your head out of your books and protocols, and just be authentic and listen to your clients. The therapeutic relationship is vital to good, effective, and healing trauma work. As someone with complex PTSD and parts, the following information on how to handle someone's littles really touched my soul:
From contributor The Garden System: "we hear that a lot of therapists don't want
to talk to the littles or address them or work with them. Which we think is really
sad, because they are the ones that hold the trauma and need the most help in our
opinion. Our current therapist is very welcoming of whoever comes to session.
Therapists should not be afraid to talk to parts that are not "the host," or parts that
are little. We believe if a part is out, there is a reason they are out (Marich, 2023, p.
Thank you Dr. Marich for your brilliant work, courage, and authenticity. Thank you to all of the courageous contributors.
J. Marich (2023). Dissociation Made Simple: A Stigma-Free Guide to Embracing Your Dissociative Mind and Navigating Daily Life. North Atlantic Books.