Frances S. Waters LMSW, DCSW, LMFT, PLC


In Her Own Words:

Excerpts from “Healing the Fractured Child”:

Foreword by Joyanna Silberg:  “Waters desensitizes the reader to the oddness or bizarre quality of dissociated selves in children by reference to classic child developmental literature.” (p. XI)

“…I learned so much from Richard Kluft in those early days…His deep understanding of the fractured mind and how to engage the client with various techniques are what I have adapted to children.” (Acknowledgments , p. XX)

“Just because infants do not have the ability to verbalize their experiences, their sensory connections are functioning even before birth. Infants are able to hear their mother’s voice and are influenced by their mother’s emotional state. In addition, the implicit memory system is always operating – calculating and tabulating sensory experiences. Infants do register emotional and physical pain. Although these memories may not be conscious, they are held in the implicit memory system and often manifest somatically and behaviorally.” (p. 7-8)

“The child may report internal visual hallucinations, such as faces, floating objects, clay figures, scary heads, a devil, an angel, and so forth. Internal visual hallucinations may coincide with the report of auditory hallucinations, both of which can be strong indicators of the presence of self-states.” (p. 52)

“Lombardo’s (2006) book on BP mentions overlapping symptoms with dissociation but indicates that dissociation is uncommon. Conversely, I suspect that dissociation is more likely unrecognized and undiagnosed in children” (p. 76)

“Hinshaw-Fuselier et al. (1999) described 18-month-old fraternal twins, Bobby and Claire, whose dissociative symptoms were meticulously tracked. The twins were observed to have increased episodes of staring. Their trance-like episodes and freeze responses occurred multiple times a day, lasting from seconds to 2 to 3 minutes at a time.” (p. 94)

“The following is a list of questions to ask parents that will assist in identifying dissociative symptoms in children…

  •       Does your child have extreme switches in mood and behavior?
  •       Does your child deny his aggressive or disruptive behavior even when you have witnessed it?
  •       Does your child have memory problems for events that he should recall, such as holidays and birthdays, past or present?
  •       Does your child adamantly deny that you told him to do his homework or chores when you are facing him, engaging him in conversation, and he is not occupied with any other activity, such as electronic games?
  •       Does your child look and behave differently at times that are not attributable to physical illness?
  •       Does your child prefer a favorite food, activity, clothing, and so forth, but at other times hate it?
  •       Do you see your child staring, unresponsive, and as though he is in his own world (not including when playing video games or watching television)? [Grey Faction note: compare to childhood absence seizures]
  •       Do you notice any changes in the child’s eyes (e.g., blinking, fluttering, eye rolling) and/or notice changes in voice and/or mannerisms during these times?
  •       Has your child ever told you that he hears voices or sees things or people that are not heard or seen by others?
  •       Have you heard your child talk to himself?
  •       Does (or did) your child have imaginary playmates?
  •       Does your child have somatic complaints that do not have a medical cause?” (p. 102-103)

“Dissociative children can display subtle shifts in consciousness when switching from one state to another…The following are signs that may accompany state shifts…

  •       Staring or a glazed look in the eye
  •       Rapid blinking, fluttering, or eye rolling
  •       Other facial changes such as biting one’s lip or a stern look
  •       Vocal changes in tenor, inflections, or language use (e.g., baby talk)
  •       Changes in body posture, such as changing from a relaxed posture to a stiff one, or from coordinated to clumsy
  •       Contradictory statements in short succession (e.g., “I don’t get along at all with my mom. We get along alright,” or “I hate soccer. I like playing it.”)
  •       Dramatic changes in activity preferences (e.g., enjoys drawing in the office, then later claims to hate it)
  •       Shifts in awareness of what was just said by either the child or the therapist
  •       Confusion, significant discrepancy, or denial of an earlier report of traumatic and nontraumatic events” (p. 105-106)

“We will need to teach children how to manage their emotions and in doing so, we will literally be rewiring their brain!...If the parents themselves struggle with dissociation, these explanations can help them better understand themselves and recognize that they also need to seek help so that they can be more effective with their child.” (p. 139)

“It is difficult to know what Rudy observed and experienced in the orphanage during the first 18 months of his life…But, based on Rudy’s disclosure, his invisible team was created to deal with his starvation and their solution was to kill humans and eat them.” (p. 192)

“While the child may be too young to talk about the trauma, an infant’s dissociated trauma can be processed with an attuned caregiver who can provide a script of the trauma (Lovett, 1999) and tell the child’s story in a loving manner while BLS (bilateral stimulation) is provided.” (p. 382)