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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 38 (1996) 2

New research

Animal defensive reactions as a model for dissociative reactions to trauma

E.R.S. Nijenhuis, J. van der Linden

Patients with extreme dissociative disorders remain in alternating psychophysiological states that appear separately, are discontinuous, and generally resist integrative tendencies. In this contribution, as an explanatory model, a comparison is made between an animal defensive reaction to life-threatening danger and a dissociative reaction of severely traumatized patients. Research data and clinical observations support the idea that there are similarities between `freezing' and concomitant development of analgesia in threatening situations in animals and humans.