Chinese Medicine, Dissociation, Dissociative Disorders, Integration, Research, Trauma

Curiouser and curiouser!

For some time now I’ve been struggling my way through writing a scientific paper on dissociation and its treatment with Oriental medicine. For some time it seemed a sure case of writer’s block, but after several rounds of returning to the material, I’ve realized that it’s a little more complicated than that.

You see, the subject of dissociation is incredibly complex and there are far more questions than answers.

Over the last few years I have put a remarkable amount of pressure on myself to understand the processes of dissociation and further, to be able to convey that understanding to an audience. Beyond that, I hoped to find answers that would help myself and others in the field of Oriental medicine be better equipped to both address dissociation in the clinic and to team with mental health providers to provide the best possible patient care. All this while still a grad student in a classical Chinese medicine program.

A few days ago it occurred to me (again) to take advantage of this blog as a jumping off point to get the writing process going, but after a big, frustrating push to get out a post on the biological markers of dissociation I am breaking through to something far more useful in the grand scheme of things. I might finally be coming to terms with the great enormity of the unknown – at least as far as dissociation is concerned.

In so many arenas of study – psychology, neurology, psychiatry, psychoneuroimmunology, (the list goes on and on) – what exactly qualifies as dissociation is continually being defined and re-defined. The scientific studies on the topic seem a hopeless morass, perhaps simply because there are so many different ways to define dissociation and still so few ways to effectively (and usefully) study it. Tracking the ongoing conversations and controversies over defining dissociation could in itself constitute quite an endeavor; trying to explain what exactly dissociation is and what we really know about it is either a hero’s journey – or a fool’s. At some point one starts to feel a bit like Alice, getting further and further away from the ground –

‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); ‘now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was!’

I can’t say for certain that I’ll ever write that paper; there are so many items on my to-do list before I graduate in June and only time will tell. But before I get on with that list, I will do my best to finish up that post with all the humility, grace and acceptance of the unknown that I can muster.



About Tracy A. Andrews, MSOM, LAc

Tracy Andrews, MSOM, LAc is licensed by the Oregon Medical Board and certified as a Diplomate of Acupuncture by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She maintains her private practice in Portland, Oregon, working collaboratively with her patients to address their health and wellbeing through treatments tailored to each individual's unique needs. Additionally, Tracy sees patients at the Immune Enhancement Project, a nonprofit clinic providing complementary care to patients with chronic pain, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, and is a volunteer provider with the Returning Veterans Project. More information about her practice at tracyandrewsacupuncture.com.


6 thoughts on “Curiouser and curiouser!

  1. I like it. You have taken a stance that reflects the complexity of the field and the humility that says “I’m trying to understand but I don’t quite know how the hell that will happen!” Hang in there…you are, of course, still a graduate student…J

    Posted by Cheryle Andrews | 23 November 2012, 8:03 pm
  2. Tracy, your writing is lucid and flowing; speaking as a former English comp. teacher, I say, it is a pleasure to read it. Good luck with your paper, and remember that clarifying what is not known is the first step to creating knowledge.

    Posted by Linda Gerber | 24 November 2012, 3:59 am
  3. It’s the itty bitty human being at the center of this massive inquiry that intrigues me by far more than biological markers of whatever. Discovery is rarely a neat and tidy affair, let alone a risk-free one, and that’s precisely what makes it exciting. Happy safari!

    Posted by Jason | 25 November 2012, 11:58 pm
  4. Appreciate your self-enquiry and your writing about it. What you are exploring is really helpful, thank you. I have just completed my own thesis after 6 years of writer’s block – you can do it! I think sometimes the subject just seems to get bigger and bigger and the journey into the unknown goes deeper, and it can just take a while to come back from the journey into the underworld bearing its fruits. Something that helped me was an unconscious process of just writing up whatever wanted to come, even though it seemed unrelated. Later on those writings became the basis for chapters and themes in the thesis – not wasted. Mine eventually wrote itself in 24 days so you still have time before June. Your blogs sounds like it could be part of that, maybe other writing you do too. Don’t let perfection get in your way – you don’t have to nail the entire subject all at once – whatever is left incomplete can go into your next book…You will know when you are ready to write and complete your thesis – sounds as though you are in the depths of the creative process. Wishing you all the best. It will be a fine contribution.

    Posted by Harriet Hanmer | 4 April 2016, 1:54 am
  5. Ahhh just read your next post – you did it!

    Posted by Harriet Hanmer | 4 April 2016, 1:56 am
  6. I see this post was from nearly years ago. I’m wondering if you ever wrote the paper. If not, I’m sure it is still working itself out in ypur brain. Line a fine wine, it will be quite good when it is ready. If, indeed, it has been written, where could I find it?
    So glad someone is taking this leap into the great unknown for the benefit of all mankind.

    Posted by Cynthia Livingston | 16 July 2016, 11:53 am

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