Letter from Germany - Teil 1weiter
The German ISSD Study Group was founded in 1995 at the ISSD Spring Conference in Amsterdam in a small, darkish restaurant. (It actually was a dark and stormy night.) For a dozen German psychotherapists, physicians, psychiatrists, and social workers, the conference had turned out to be a very special event: Now they knew they were not alone in their work with and study of patients suffering from DID in Germany.
Even before that time some of us had been in contact with Onno van der Hart, PhD, from the Institute of Psychotrauma in Utrecht. In fact, he had been supervising quite a few of us, giving the help and advice we needed so badly. (To get inspiration from abroad—especially in the field of traumatherapy—is not an unusual move for Germans. I am not alone in the belief that our evil history makes it difficult to acknowledge and deal with the consequences of severe trauma.)
Those practising at two clinics in particular had become aware of the phenomenon of dissociation: the St. Johannishospital for Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine in Bielefeld, near Hannover, and the Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Hospital in Hohemark, near Frankfurt. In the early 1990s Dipl.-Soz.päd. Anne Juergens, a psychotherapist from Bielefeld, had taken part in Onno van der Hart’s teaching seminars and now recognised the symptoms of DID in one of her patients. Controversy ensued at the clinic (as might be expected), but the head of the clinic, Luise Reddemann, MD, supported and actively helped to advance the new approach.
Workshops and specialised supervisions were started, and in October 1994 a conference on DID took place in Bielefeld (luckily, just before the onset of backlash in Germany). Organised by the feminist "*Wildwasser e.V." group,* it was strictly for women. Many DID survivors participated. The keynote speech was by psychotherapist Michaela Huber, PsyD, who for a long time had been working with severely traumatised patients in her private practice and had realised "that some of them had the voices of children in them that talked, and afterwards the adult did not know what had happened" — as she put it in a recent radio interview. Thus becoming aware of the phenomenon of amnesia in her clients, she moved toward studying dissociation. She has published the first German manual on DID, Multiple Persönlichkeiten — Überlebende extremer Gewalt (Multiple Personalities — Survivors of Extreme Abuse, 1995); in a very short time more than 10.000 copies of the book were sold.
At the same time, Arne Hofmann, MD, who had studied in the United States, established a ward for traumatised patients at the clinic of Hohemark, with Lucien Burkhardt, MD, now our treasurer, as his colleague. Meanwhile Dipl.-Soz.päd. Thorsten Becker, a social worker in Hamburg, and his team in the Children’s and Adolescents’ Protection Service (AJS) received an award for their work with traumatised children from cult groups. During the early 1990s Becker had counselled children and adolescents who seemed to be the first survivors of sadistic ritual abuse (SRA) in Germany and in the process of trying to understand what he was seeing, he linked up with the Ritualistic Abuse Consultancy in Australia and Fred Jonker, MD, and Jetje Jonker, MD, medical practitioners in Oude Pekela, The Netherlands, who were doing research on one of the first controversial large-scale European cases of SRA.