identity therapy

IDENTITY THERAPY is a short form for Identity-oriented Psychotrauma Therapy, the theory developed by Professor Franz Ruppert over the last 25 years. As it says it is a theory of human identity, how it forms and how it is disturbed and fractured by traumatisation at the earliest stages of our life.

Franz Ruppert began his study of trauma back in the late 1980s, developing his theory through his own research and exploration of work with his clients and his own personal therapeutic exploration. In the early 1990s he came across the work known as Family Constellations and began to use the method developed by Bert Hellinger, the originator of Family Constellations. This method provided Ruppert with a research tool that he continues to use today, although today the method we use, The Intention Method, has evolved considerably from the original.

Ruppert’s theory has evolved into a clear and elegant theory of human identity and psychological trauma that, while having roots in many earlier theories and thoughts, is in itself cohesive and complete.

The foundations of this theory are:

  1. A clear understanding of the structure and function of the human psyche
  2. An understanding of human identity and will
  3. A clear and distinctive definition of what trauma actually is.
  4. A clear understanding of what surviving trauma involves.
  5. An understanding of love, sexuality and relationships

Human identity is who we really are; but the integrity of our identity has many influences, from the most subtle, eg how our mother feels about being pregnant and towards us while we are in her womb, whether she wants the baby or not, whether she feels love towards the baby or ambivalence or event hatred, to the more gross, eg if she attempts abortion and the child survives it.

The trauma of love is the term we give to the trauma of not being able to get a clear, loving connection with our mother at the earliest time in our life. The primary reason for this is if she herself is traumatised and psychologically split, and so is unable to tolerate real emotional connection. The trauma of identity is the first splitting where we have to give up on our healthy wanting self in order to have some connection with our mother; we have to identify with her wants. This is a severe loss of self, of identity, and from here on we construct our identity through identification with others (mother and father first), and through the attributions they give us, the things they tell us about ourself.

Trauma is literally about survival; it is an experience we are unable to psychologically metabolise, and in order to survive the moment our psyche splits the experience off. This experience remains split off and boundaried in our psyche, and we develop increasingly elaborate and subtle ways of maintaining this split.

The traumas of love and of identity happen at a pre-verbal time of our life, often pre-birth, and so are not available to us as cognitive memories, but are stored in the body, in the cells and the neural fabric of our being. These early traumas then influence entirely how well we are able to manage any later events that are traumatic. And the trauma of identity influences completely our ability to be in the world, to make relationships, be successful, feel good about ourselves and understand who we really are. We are not the myriad of identifications, attributions and survival strategies that we have developed. This is not who we really are.

Since this most important material about who we really are comes from the pre-cognitive time of our life, and so is not in our conceptual memory and cannot be talked about with any real reference, we have to have a method that can access this material. In fact everything we need to know about ourselves for our psychological healing is within us, if we have the means to access it.

This brings me to the method, the Intention Method.