The Tri-Modal Reaction (T-MR) Model of Complex Trauma and Dissociation: A Proposal

Vedat Şar


This paper proposes a model that explains the response to complex psychological trauma and dissociation. This tri-modal reaction model tries to account for the mental striving of the traumatized individual in dealing with unbearable pain when fighting for overall survival.
Rather than conceptualizing this process in consecutive phases, the response of the individual to developmental trauma is described in three modes which often co-occur: Acute reaction, chronic process, and alienation. Each mode operates in a window of overmodulation and undermodulation of emotions. This tri-modal model resembles medical conceptualizations of injury, response, and illness as they occur to the body. Psychotherapeutic intervention to trauma-related conditions has to consider the possible co-presence of the three modes. Such three-dimensional understanding of respo nse to trauma has also implications for mental integration. Namely, the latter is a multidimensional phenomenon rather than a linear sum of parts.

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