Though the exepriences of isolated foreign youths are varied and each has his or her particular history, these adolescents have some psychopathological problems in common. A considerable number of these young people present clinical symptoms of trance or possession, called DTD (dissociative trance disorder) in the DSM IV. Symptoms of trance and possession are probably under-diagnosed in western countries because of cultural bias and an insufficient understanding of dissociative disorders. Patients who present these symptoms are often subject to diagnostic errors, especially diagnoses of psychosis or borderline states, leading to treatments that can aggravate symptoms. These symptoms have multiple functions in isolated foreign youths and should be analyzed in view of the specific stage of development which is adolescence, especially its issues of identity construction. In order to gain a better understanding of the subjective experience of these young people, it is necessary that the therapeutic setting take into account the transcultural dimension and pre-, peri-, and post-migratory issues. We will bring our hypotheses to bear on a review of the psychoanalytic literature and clinical observations.
Adolescence, 2013, T. 31, n°3, pp. 613-623.