Identity Oriented Psychotrauma Theory

Original Editor - Andrea Sturm

Top Contributors - Vidya Acharya, Kim Jackson and Tarina van der Stockt  

Identity Oriented Psycho Trauma Theory (IoPT)

Professor Dr. Franz Ruppert used developed the theories and practice of Identity oriented Psycho Trauma Theory (IoPT) over the last 30 years. This framework was developed using existing theories and experiences through individual and group therapy sessions. He has written many books on this topic and currently, six of the books are available in English.[1] "Prof. Dr. Ruppert has devoted his time to understand the living human organism (LHO), how trauma affects the whole LHO and how to recover from the effect of trauma- to gain a healthy self and a healthy will, despite traumatisation." [1]

Healing from either physical or mental disorders need a goal. According to Prof. Dr. Ruppert this "equates to fully and completely living one's own identity, so that we can express and realize what is at the core of our being". In order to be in touch with our own identity we "need a healthy self, a free will and to be in close emotional contact with our body".[1]

What is Understood as ‘Identity’ in IoPT?

Identity Means:[2]

  • A healthy ‘I’ (in the sense of a psychological ‘ego’ as an executive function of the human psyche)
  • With my own free will
  • With all my senses
  • In contact with my body
  • With my own feelings
  • With my own words
  • In all my relationships

What Does ‘Healthy I’ Mean in This Context?[2]

  • Being present, but not dominating
  • Being flexible in altering situations
  • Being realistic what is possible and what not
  • Being able to accept surviving parts and traumatized parts of my psyche
  • Taking responsibility for a healthy identity-development
  • Having a free will on one’s side

Psychotrauma Produces the Need and the Habit for…[2]

  • Looking for substitute-identities (e.g. a professional role to hide behind)
  • Accepting attributions without doubts
  • Inappropriately clinging to another person (e.g. to a partner, an own child, a therapist, an ‘authority’)
  • Hiding one’s I behind a ‘We’ (relationship, family, company, ‘system’, nation etc.)
  • Identifying with the behavior of perpetrators (e.g. with the violent mother or father). This could mean in case you were treated rudely in your early life you could treat yourself (or others) rudely later as well. The same would be true if existential needs of being loved, protected and wanted were being ignored, or when someone experienced destructive, violent or abusive behaviors.

The More Extreme the Psychotrauma Was, the More Urgent Is the Need for…[2]

  • re-defining oneself (e.g. ‘It didn’t affect me!’)
  • self-denial (e.g. ‘I was not beaten / sexually abused!’)
  • disengaging the ‘I’ from the body (e.g. ‘My body is sick!’ ‘My body needs to be fixed by a specialist!’)
  • dissolving the ‘I’ (e.g. through drug usage or withdrawing into a state of confusion)

The Surviving I-States Turns …[2]

  • individuals into split personalities, who experience this as normal and their true identity
  • humans into objects, who accept this as their identity
  • Men and women into functioning machines, without any connection to their healthy ‘I’ and their body
  • Originally loving babies into later egoists and psychopaths

Healthy Identity[2]

  • Is the sum of all conscious and unconscious life experiences
  • Including beautiful days as well as the trauma
  • You can‘t leave anything out without denying yourself.

IoPT is based on a specific understanding of trauma, and psychological splitting is a means of surviving trauma.[3]

The diagram shows the split structure of the psyche after a trauma. Trauma is a situation that pays no attention to individual identity, and the cost is a loss of self, a loss of identity. This is why Dr. Ruppert's approach is called Identity-oriented Psychotrauma Theory



Every person has a history of trauma, called a trauma biography. The traumas we go through have major influence on who we become later in life, it also affects how we deal with trauma later in life, and influences our relationship and abilities. Every traumatic event later in our life carries the re-traumatisation seed of the original trauma. [3]

Perpetrator - Victim Dynamics Within a Person’s Psyche[5]

  • Someone becomes a perpetrator if he or she applies harm to someone else (violence, murder, theft, betrayal, dishonesty) or does not give the necessary support (lack of food, contact and love).
  • Someone becomes a victim by experiencing harm to his or her body and psyche (from natural disasters, from other human beings[5]
  • One can be a perpetrator consciously and unconsciously.
  • Harms can be small or big.
  • One can also be a perpetrator towards oneself (e.g. self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse, highly risky lifestyle, ignoring his or her own needs, …)[5]

Harm as a Traumatic Experience

  • The victim feels helpless and powerless
  • His or her stress reactions (fight or flight) could persist and make the harm even greater
  • Blocking, freezing, dissociating, splitting are psychic emergency reactions in order to survive [5]


  • Splitting off victim-experiences creates perpetrator attitudes in the victim as survival-strategies
  • Numbness towards oneself turns into unempathetic behavior towards others
  • Victims can become perpetrators, being not aware of their victim and perpetrator attitudes[5]
  • Victims become perpetrators towards others when they can‘t feel and realize their own trauma
  • In one person victim- and perpetrator-attitudes can alter from moment to moment
  • Self-destruction and destruction of others go hand in hand.[6]

Possible Consequences of Perpetrator-Victim Splitting

  • Pendulums wings between victim- and perpetrator attitudes
  • Alternating feelings of powerlessness and rebellious fury
  • Aggression and depression as normality in relationships
  • Personality disorders, Psychosis, Schizophrenia, Delusion, Self-destruction, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Suicide
  • Chronic diseases, e.g. autoimmune diseases, cancer
  • Criminal behaviour
  • A vicious cycle sucking in more and more people
  • A vicious cycle going on for generations
  • Violence, murder, incest and sexual abuse become normality
  • Consequence: Traumatisation of a whole bonding system that is dominated by trauma
  • Revenge against innocent others
  • Illusions of love as a fragile basis for living together with others[5]

How to Overcome the Victim Attitude

  • Acknowledging being a victim, i.e. feeling one's own trauma
  • Perceiving and accepting the harm that has been done
  • Feeling compassion for oneself
  • Claiming compensation from the perpetrator
  • Renouncing the need for revenge[5]

How to Overcome the Perpetrator Attitude

  • Acknowledging facts and deeds
  • Accepting guilt and responsibility
  • Feeling the shame about the harm done to others
  • Feeling empathy towards the victim
  • Offering compensation, making appropriate amends
  • Renouncing the need for lifelong atonement[5]

Living Beyond Perpetrator-Victim Attitudes

  • Leaving systems that are caught up in perpetrator-victim-dynamics
  • Healthy contact with oneself, healthy autonomy, clear boundaries
  • Self-respect, ability to deal with conflicts
  • Living in constructive relationships that are fulfilling symbiotic needs
  • Creating win-win instead of win-lose-situations
  • Finding out what healthy anxiety, rage, and love are [5]

Many Traumatised Humans Together Create a Traumatized and Traumatizing Society

These are only a few ‘symptoms’ of traumatized and traumatizing societies:

  • Drug abuse and addictive behaviours in many forms
  • High rates of chronic health problems and a health care system that produces new health traumas
  • High rates of mental illness, and a psychiatric system that is traumatising additionally
  • A high rate of suicide
  • Pornography, prostitution, criminal gangs
  • Highly competitive educational system
  • Highly competitive economic system
  • A rich few, and a mass of poor people
  • An economy that produces systematically losers
  • Manipulation of thinking by the mass media
  • Racism and prejudice in all its forms (race, gender, colour, religion)[6]


You can find more information and useful resources on Dr. Ruppert’s website:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 What is IoPT?IoPT Norway.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Who am I? Basics of an Identity oriented Psychotrauma Theory and Therapy (IoPT )Bucarest, 20th of April 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Vivian Broughton. On a journey to health autonomy
  4. Vivian BroughtonFranz Ruppert London Lectures- Basics of Trauma 1, Available from Accessed on 28/09/19
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Prof. Dr. Franz Ruppert. Depressions as a consequence of the Perpetrator-Victim-Splitting. Leuven, 22nd of March 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Who am I in a traumatised and traumatising Society? Bucarest, 12.02.2019 4/8/2019 © Prof. Dr. Franz Ruppert