Examples on dissociation and more information

Standard
dis-so-ci-a-tion: an adaptive defense in response to high stress or trauma characterized by memory loss and a sense of disconnection from oneself or one’s surroundings.

What does this mean to you? Here’s how a cross section of people
who’ve experienced dissociation describe it:

“When I become engrossed in a good book, I lose all track of time.”
–ALICE M., 33, TRAVEL CONSULTANT
“I feel that somehow my body is not doing what my head wants it to be doing.”
–ERNEST P., 51, ENGINEER
“My mind wanders, and I go in and out. I just go away to myself. Nowhere, really, just not there.”
–SANDRA N., 19, COLLEGE STUDENT
“I have trouble remembering what I said in a presentation after I’ve made it.”
–JOHN T., 41, SALES DIRECTOR FOR INTERNET FIRM
“I was at home with my mother, and the whole thing was unreal. I knew she was my mother, but I just had a feeling that she wasn’t really my mother.”
–CINDY M., 32, TELEVISION PRODUCER
“I’m like a filter, who I am on a particular day depends on what’s coming into me and what’s going out. I don’t feel connected internally all the time.”
–JEAN W., 41, BATTERED WOMEN’S COUNSELOR
“I’ll explode at my husband, and afterward I can’t remember what I said.”
–GAYLE T., 32, AEROBICS INSTRUCTOR
“It’s not feeling real or feeling that I’m just doing things automatically.”
–JIM Z., 37, ALCOHOL COUNSELOR
“I feel like a girl most of the time; other times I feel more like a guy.”
–CARLY B., 19, COLLEGE STUDENT
“It’s like watching a movie in my head. You know, like when you’re watching a movie and you get all absorbed in the movie. And you forget who you are, where you are, what time it is, what’s going on in your life.”
–DONNA E., 41, NURSE
“I can become so totally concerned about what people are thinking of me or expecting from me when I’m talking to them that I become lost. I lose me.”
–GEORGE N., 53, FINANCIAL PLANNER
“I couldn’t remember whether it really happened or I imagined it.”
–SUZANNE O., 35, HOMEMAKER
“It’s like being shell-shocked, you know that you’re doing something, but you feel that somebody else is doing it. You’re watching yourself from a distance. Doesn’t everyone have that feeling sometimes?”
–ROBERT A., 51, SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
“I don’t feel like myself; I feel like some other person inside me.”
–VICKI B., 44, MEDICAL TECHNICIAN
“I didn’t let myself feel anything about my divorce until after I was divorced. The emotional side of me just shuts down under stress.”
–FRED D., 42, BOND RATINGS ANALYST
“I’ve been in a shell, and I feel empty inside.”
–LINDA A., 33, TEACHER
“A very powerful wave of emotion comes over me, and I don’t feel in control of myself. I feel that this person is going to do what she wants and I’m over in a corner, helpless, waiting to see what happens.”
–PENELOPE J., 54, FREE-LANCE WRITER
“I act differently with different people.”
–MARSHA G., 36, FASHION CONSULTANT

         Are you surprised to find that you’ve experienced some of these symptoms of dissociation yourself? You shouldn’t be. The fact is that dissociation is a healthy adaptive defense used almost universally by people in response to overwhelming stress or life-threatening danger. What’s more, many normal people experience mild dissociative symptoms on occasion when their lives are not in immediate danger.

dis-so-ci-a-tion: an adaptive defense in response to high stress or trauma characterized by memory loss and a sense of disconnection from oneself or one’s surroundings.

What does this mean to you? Here’s how a cross section of people
who’ve experienced dissociation describe it:

 

“When I become engrossed in a good book, I lose all track of time.”
–ALICE M., 33, TRAVEL CONSULTANT
“I feel that somehow my body is not doing what my head wants it to be doing.”
–ERNEST P., 51, ENGINEER
“My mind wanders, and I go in and out. I just go away to myself. Nowhere, really, just not there.”
–SANDRA N., 19, COLLEGE STUDENT
“I have trouble remembering what I said in a presentation after I’ve made it.”
–JOHN T., 41, SALES DIRECTOR FOR INTERNET FIRM
“I was at home with my mother, and the whole thing was unreal. I knew she was my mother, but I just had a feeling that she wasn’t really my mother.”
–CINDY M., 32, TELEVISION PRODUCER
“I’m like a filter, who I am on a particular day depends on what’s coming into me and what’s going out. I don’t feel connected internally all the time.”
–JEAN W., 41, BATTERED WOMEN’S COUNSELOR
“I’ll explode at my husband, and afterward I can’t remember what I said.”
–GAYLE T., 32, AEROBICS INSTRUCTOR
“It’s not feeling real or feeling that I’m just doing things automatically.”
–JIM Z., 37, ALCOHOL COUNSELOR
“I feel like a girl most of the time; other times I feel more like a guy.”
–CARLY B., 19, COLLEGE STUDENT
“It’s like watching a movie in my head. You know, like when you’re watching a movie and you get all absorbed in the movie. And you forget who you are, where you are, what time it is, what’s going on in your life.”
–DONNA E., 41, NURSE
“I can become so totally concerned about what people are thinking of me or expecting from me when I’m talking to them that I become lost. I lose me.”
–GEORGE N., 53, FINANCIAL PLANNER
“I couldn’t remember whether it really happened or I imagined it.”
–SUZANNE O., 35, HOMEMAKER
“It’s like being shell-shocked, you know that you’re doing something, but you feel that somebody else is doing it. You’re watching yourself from a distance. Doesn’t everyone have that feeling sometimes?”
–ROBERT A., 51, SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
“I don’t feel like myself; I feel like some other person inside me.”
–VICKI B., 44, MEDICAL TECHNICIAN
“I didn’t let myself feel anything about my divorce until after I was divorced. The emotional side of me just shuts down under stress.”
–FRED D., 42, BOND RATINGS ANALYST
“I’ve been in a shell, and I feel empty inside.”
–LINDA A., 33, TEACHER
“A very powerful wave of emotion comes over me, and I don’t feel in control of myself. I feel that this person is going to do what she wants and I’m over in a corner, helpless, waiting to see what happens.”
–PENELOPE J., 54, FREE-LANCE WRITER
“I act differently with different people.”
–MARSHA G., 36, FASHION CONSULTANT

         Are you surprised to find that you’ve experienced some of these symptoms of dissociation yourself? You shouldn’t be. The fact is that dissociation is a healthy adaptive defense used almost universally by people in response to overwhelming stress or life-threatening danger. What’s more, many normal people experience mild dissociative symptoms on occasion when their lives are not in immediate danger.

Dissociation is not always the worst case scenario you may mistakenly think it is. It runs along a continuum. Most of us experience mild symptoms of it in our everyday life, like Alice, the travel consultant, who loses all track of time when she becomes engrossed in a good book’a mild form of amnesia. Then there are many other people who experience a moderate degree of symptoms but do not necessarily have a dissociative illness unless their symptoms are associated with distress or dysfunction. Of course, “moderates” who’ve adapted to their symptoms and compensated for them –sometimes unhealthily–may not regard them as distressing or realize their damaging effects. Fred, the bond ratings analyst, is a cautionary example. A man who doesn’t let himself feel anything, a manifestation of a dissociative symptom, may adapt by burying himself in his work and not experience distress in an intimate relationship until it has ended.

Severe symptoms are found mainly in people who have a dissociative disorder, but even at its most extreme this illness is not the catastrophic affliction that it’s often made out to be. In the most basic terms dissociative identity disorder, or DID, formerly called multiple personality disorder, is what happens when your “inner child” or some other hidden part of yourself operates independently, seizes control, and makes you act inappropriately or impairs your ability to function. Vicki, the medical technician, who says, “I don’t feel like myself; I feel like some other person inside me,” is describing a severe dissociative symptom because in her case that internal “other person” is a separate personality state. If that’s true for you, like Vicki, you can have DID and still complete your college education, hold down a responsible job, get married, be a good parent, and have a circle of close friends. And best of all, you can recover.

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         Dissociative symptoms and disorders are far more prevalent in the general population than previously recognized for a good reason: a great many people don’t report their symptoms to therapists because they can’t identify them! Research has shown that these symptoms are as common as those of depression and anxiety, but the person who is unfamiliar with them may not regard them as significant.?

Dissociation is not always the worst case scenario you may mistakenly think it is. It runs along a continuum. Most of us experience mild symptoms of it in our everyday life, like Alice, the travel consultant, who loses all track of time when she becomes engrossed in a good book’a mild form of amnesia. Then there are many other people who experience a moderate degree of symptoms but do not necessarily have a dissociative illness unless their symptoms are associated with distress or dysfunction. Of course, “moderates” who’ve adapted to their symptoms and compensated for them –sometimes unhealthily–may not regard them as distressing or realize their damaging effects. Fred, the bond ratings analyst, is a cautionary example. A man who doesn’t let himself feel anything, a manifestation of a dissociative symptom, may adapt by burying himself in his work and not experience distress in an intimate relationship until it has ended.

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7 responses »

  1. It took me a long time to learn acceptance, which was couple with awareness, the opposite of dissociation.

    Awareness is staying present without grasping the storyline, observing all that is in this moment, whether fear, terror or happiness.

  2. Pingback: Do Dissociative Trauma Survivors Actually Lose Time? | Discussing Dissociation

  3. Pingback: Clinic for Dissociative studies | Free psychology

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  5. Pingback: The sound of waking up | Mirrorgirl

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