What is Dissociation? | Melinajbw Counselling
Jul 15, 2023
What is Dissociation?

Mild dissociation is what we do when we daydream or imagine ourselves in a book or a movie, this involves the process of us moving into the top area of our brain and temporarily losing touch with our current surroundings or "getting lost in our head"

Dissociation is a disconnection or gap in our thinking and processing. Mild dissociation is what we do when we daydream or imagine ourselves in a book or a movie, this involves the process of us moving into the top area of our brain and temporarily losing touch with our current surroundings or "getting lost in our head" A good example of this is when you are driving a familiar route, you may find yourself drifting off into your thoughts and suddenly realising that you have driven a significant distance unconsciously or even find yourself arriving at your destination without any recollection of the specific route travelled.

Trauma can often trigger our brains to dissociate, when a traumatic event happens we are thrown into a state of sudden ‘fight or flight’ if the circumstances of the traumatic event are too much to process all at once our brains will often ‘disassociate’, this is why victims of abuse, accidents, disasters and prolonged emotional trauma will often not be able to recollect specific details or events, victims of childhood abuse will often have all the symptoms of abuse and trauma but will not be able to recollect the specific details of the abuse or when and how it happened. Often whole chunks of childhood memories are ‘missing’ as their minds have disassociated so much that the traumatic memories have been buried or ‘forgotten’ by the victim. This type or trauma-related dissociation can lead to a major dissociative disorder, there a three main types of dissociative disorders which need to be diagnosed by a medical professional.

  1. Dissociative Identity Disorder
  2. Dissociative Amnesia
  3. Depersonalisation/Derealisation Disorder

Dissociative Identity Disorder is when someone’s identity is characterized by two or more distinct personality states. This discontinuity leads to a disrupted sense of self. The person may not be able to recall personal information, everyday events, or a traumatic incident. These symptoms cause significant distress in work, school, relationships, or other aspects of daily functioning. This condition was previously called Multiple Personality Disorder.

Dissociative Amnesia is when a person is suddenly unable to remember important biographical information about themselves, outside of the realm of normal forgetting. The event they can’t recall is often a stressful or traumatic one, and the experience leads to significant distress in the person’s life.

Depersonalisation/Derealisation Disorder is when persistent episodes of depersonalization occur—feeling a sense of unreality, detachment, or being an outside observer of one’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, or actions—and/or derealization—a sense of unreality or detachment regarding one’s surroundings, such as individuals or objects seeming unreal, foggy, or visually distorted. These experiences lead to distress and impairment in the person’s life. (Psychology Today 2023)

Most of us daydream occasionally and most of us have dissociated at times especially when experiencing a traumatic or stressful situation. Dissociation is a break within the neurological pathways of our brains, as we process the traumatic or stressful event symptoms of dissociation will often go away on their own. If we find that dissociation symptoms are continuing or worsening, its time to check in with your doctor and mental health professional to work out the best treatment and solutions for moving forward.

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References

WebMD. (n.d.). Dissociation: Causes, diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-h...

Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Dissociation. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.co...

What are dissociative disorders?. Psychiatry.org - What Are Dissociative Disorders? (n.d.). https://www.psychiatry.org/pat...

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