Frank Putnam’s The Way We Are is his magnum opus after years of service to the field of psychotherapy in general and study of the dissociative disorders in particular. It is a ground-breaking work that proposes what amounts to nothing less than a paradigm shift in the way we conceptualize and respond to the workings of the mind per se. The state model of personality he elaborates – supported by the findings of diverse evidence bases- attunes to the fluctuations of mental life. It is thus better able to account for disparate behaviors and personality shifts than the many theories of personality which emphasize fixed, persistent, and globally defining traits. The reality of state change means “[w]e are all multiple to some degree’, and it is “how well we can keep it together, how harmoniously we can bridge, coordinate and even integrate the different parts of ourselves that determines how functional we are” (p. 121). Identifying and engaging multiple mental states has relevance far beyond the mental health sector. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Frank Putnam for elaborating why.
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