Ego State Therapy has become a frequent focus in the hypnosis literature (Watkins, 1984; Watkins & Watkins, 1981, 1982; Edelstein, 1982; Beahrs, 1982; Newey, 1986). Ego State Therapy is defined by Watkins and Watkins (1982) as the 'utilization of family and group treatment techniques for the resolution of conflicts between the different ego states which constitute a ''family of self" within a single individual.' This method is aimed at conflict resolution and may employ any of the directive, behavioral, psychoanalytic, supportive, existential, and even relaxation and biofeedback techniques of therapy. This method of therapy concerns a notion of how much the individual's behavior is the result of dissociated ego states in a state of conflict. According to Helen and John Watkins, the experience with ego state therapy shows that activating, studying and communicating with various ego states decreases the patient's tendency to dissociate. The patient who used to dissociate and experienced these changes as 'mood swings,' 'confusion states' or 'lost time,' develops an awareness of her condition. Confusion is then replaced by greater clarity, understanding, new hope and a sense of self-mastery. The goal of ego state therapy is not total fusion of all ego states into one fully 'fused' ego, but rather an increased permeability of ego state boundaries, and an improved internal harmony resulting in better cooperation and congruence among the various ego states. Some ego states may be maladaptive; however, the strategy is not to eliminate any ego state, even if it is responsible for maladaptive behavior. Instead the strategy is to change the maladaptive behavior, and to help the ego state become more adaptive in its behaviors. In previous publications (Torem, 1987, 1989a) I have described in great detail the use of this method for the treatment of patients with eating disorders. This specific method is especially effective with patients in whom the underlying dynamic for the eating disorder is related to dissociated ego states, and who are in a state of conflict. This method also has been found useful in patients with eating disorders who had an underlying multiple personality disorder (Torem, 1990, 1993).
Was this article helpful?