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  • Writer's pictureMaria Diaz

What is Dissociation?

Updated: Oct 22, 2023



Dissociation is a psychological defense mechanism that happens when a person becomes disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, or emotions. It is a coping mechanism to deal with stressful situations and is often associated with trauma.

Dissociation can range from mild to severe, with symptoms that include feeling disconnected from one’s body, feeling like one is watching oneself from afar, or feeling like the world is not real. Although dissociation may be diagnosed as a psychological disorder in some instances, it is a completely normal way of dealing with stressful situations.

Everyone dissociates to some degree. It is a natural response to overwhelming situations. For example, when we are watching a scary movie or daydreaming, we can become so immersed in our thoughts or the movie that time seems to fly by. This temporary detachment from reality is a form of dissociation.

Dissociation can also be seen in athletes who enter a state of “flow.” They are so focused on their sport that everything else seems to fall away, and they become completely immersed in the moment. This is a type of dissociation.

In some situations, dissociation can become problematic. When someone is experiencing chronic stress or trauma, the dissociative state becomes more frequent and intense. This can interfere with their ability to function and negatively impact their quality of life.

Individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) have a more severe form of dissociation in which their sense of identity is fragmented. They may experience different personalities, memories, and behaviors that are distinct from their typical self.

Treatment for dissociation typically focuses on reducing stress and anxiety, developing coping strategies, and integrating the dissociated feelings or experiences back into daily life. Some people may need therapy, medication, or a combination of both to manage their dissociative symptoms.

In conclusion, dissociation is a normal defense mechanism that we all experience to some degree. Although it can be a helpful way of dealing with stressful situations, it can also become problematic when it interferes with our ability to function. It is important to understand the different levels of dissociation and seek assistance if it becomes a recurring issue or negatively affects our quality of life.

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