Neil Schecker

Reconceptualizing Jung’s Perspectives on Emotion and Active Internal Dialogue in Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Jung described emotion as a strong phenomenon attached to a complex. Emotion, like affect, involved considerable somatic and cognitive distortions. In general, he identified feelings as more superficial, rationally informed experiences. In Anima and Animus, Jung described dissociation as a splitting of the personality into complexes, hence at the core of a person’s emotional life. His technique of active internal dialogue (AID) with an activated emotional or dynamic complex (the anima), could only occur from intense emotional reactions allowing the unconscious to be expressed by thoughts or images. For Jung, AID should only be undertaken if “driven by necessity”.

In contemporary psychotherapeutic practice, the patient with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) demonstrates dissociation in which numerous aspects of psychobiological functioning are disrupted, interrupted and/or discontinuous. There’s a continuum of “self-states” with variable degrees of distinctiveness, influence, executive control, emotionality, and phenomenology in the psychobiological self.

For Jung, emotions and active complexes were based on significant symptomatic and/or symbolic experiences. This contrasts with the subtle phenomenology of relatively stable DID patients with unresolved trauma. Extensive clinical experience demonstrates that internal or psychotherapeutically initiated communications between diverse self-states can lead to improved ego functioning and integration of dissociated aspects of the self.

Presented is a treatment approach for DID that reconceptualizes AID and Jung’s affect/emotion/complex/feeling spectrum, while preserving the basic parameters of the technique that Jung outlined. Essentially, AID can help forge a language-based relationship between disparate psychobiological aspects of the self. The resulting dialogue allows for verbal intrapersonal or interpersonal processing of dissociative phenomena. As such, AID communications easily incorporate into numerous standard psychotherapeutic approaches. AID allows for a lessening of pre-dialogue dissociation by virtue of shared verbal communication and enhancing ego skills.

The use of AID to explore dialogical self-theory, the “plural self” and normative psychobiological experience will also be discussed.


Neil Schecker, M.D.: During the 1970’s he attended New College of Florida in Sarasota, Florida and trained under Dr. Marion Hoppin a student of Carl Jung, who was both a professor and therapist. In both roles she provided the formative foundation for clinical work as a psychiatrist.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1987, Schecker attended residency in psychiatry at the Institute of Pennsylvania until 1991. Dr. Richard Kluft established the Dissociative Disorders Unit there and was drawn to the numerous challenges in working with patients, then diagnosed as having Multiple Personality Disorder.

In private practice since 1991, Schecker has worked with more than 100 patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This continuity of care has allowed him to observe the longitudinal development of adult women with DID, as well as explore a wide-ranging eclectic approach with many standard and uniquely his own techniques and goals within a full-fledged biopsychosocial treatment framework. Besides his work with DID patients, Schecker has extensive experience in working with patients who have Intellectual Disability, juvenile delinquency, ADD, bipolar disorder and “neuroses”. He has chosen the path of clinician rather than academician and now semi-retired, feels that he can contribute his scientist-practitioner mindset in more formal efforts within his field.


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