Definition, Causes, Facts
What Is Dissociation?
Causes of Dissociative Disorders
Dissociative Disorders in the DSM-5 The latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines four types of dissociative disorders: Dissociative amnesia (with a possible subdiagnosis of dissociative fugue, which involves confused wandering with amnesia) – an inability to recall important information to the extent that it cannot be explained by normal forgetfulness. Dissociative identity disorder – characterized by two or more identities or personality traits within a single individual. Depersonalization/derealisation disorder – major detachment wherein a person feels that objects around him or her are changing in shape or size or that people are automated and inhuman. A person may also feel detached from his or her own body. Other dissociative identity disorder not specified – a dissociative disorder that doesn’t fall specifically into one of the other three diagnoses. – See more at: http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/dissociative-identity-disorder/dissociative-disorders-definition-causes-facts/#sthash.DHKGwAyg.dpuf
The Brain in Defense Mode: How Dissociation Helps Us Survive
April 29, 2015 • By Anastasia Pollock, LCMHC, Posttraumatic Stress Topic Expert Contributor
profile portrait with brain explosion fragmentsAccording to Ross and Halpern (2011), there are several definitions of dissociation. One of them (referred to as “the general systems meaning of dissociation”) is “the opposite of association” or the disconnection of two or more things that were once associated with each other. Another definition, presented by Steinberg and Schnall (2001), defines dissociation as “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.”
Dissociation occurs when someone disconnects from some part of himself or herself or the environment. It can occur in a number of different ways, including disconnection from one’s emotions, body sensations, memories, senses, etc. A normal and common phenomenon, dissociation can happen in mild forms even when there is not imminent danger or stress. Think of a time you drove somewhere, arrived, and then couldn’t remember the drive because your mind was wandering; an instance when you lost track of time because you were engrossed in a riveting television show; or when you disconnected from body sensations to avoid going to the bathroom when you were on a tight deadline at work.
Dissociation is something we all do, and it is a vital part of our ingrained survival system. It is a part of the system that helps us to cope with stressful situations, which may otherwise feel overwhelming (Steinberg and Schnall, 2001). It is built in and is not pathological (Ross and Halpern, 2011). However, when a trauma occurs, sometimes this built-in system disconnects to a greater degree in an effort to protect the individual from traumatic material, body sensations, emotions, or memories that may be overwhelming.
Dissociation related to trauma occurs in varying degrees. On the lower end of the dissociation spectrum, for example, let’s say someone was in a car accident. A few days after the accident, the person finds that he or she cannot recall parts of the accident, even though reports of others were that he or she was conscious and responsive during those times he or she cannot recall. On the other end of the spectrum, someone who was severely abused throughout life can dissociate to the point that he or she has more than one personality, all of whom display and contain their own characteristics and who hold different memories associated with the trauma