Dissociation is a term that covers a lot of ground from emotional detachment to periods that resemble "out of body experience" -
"This article is about the psychological experience. For other uses, see Dissociation (disambiguation).
In psychology, the term dissociation describes a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experience. The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis. Dissociative experiences are further characterized by the varied maladaptive mental constructions of an individual's natural imaginative capacity.
Dissociation is commonly displayed on a continuum. In mild cases, dissociation can be regarded as a coping mechanism or defense mechanisms in seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress – including boredom or conflict. At the nonpathological end of the continuum, dissociation describes common events such as daydreaming while driving a vehicle. Further along the continuum are non-pathological altered states of consciousness.
More pathological dissociation involves dissociative disorders, including dissociative fugue and depersonalization disorder with or without alterations in personal identity or sense of self. These alterations can include: a sense that self or the world is unreal (depersonalization and derealization); a loss of memory (amnesia); forgetting identity or assuming a new self (fugue); and fragmentation of identity or self into separate streams of consciousness (dissociative identity disorder, formerly termed multiple personality disorder) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dissociative disorders are sometimes triggered by trauma, but may be preceded only by stress, psychoactive substances, or no identifiable trigger at all. The ICD-10 classifies conversion disorder as a dissociative disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders groups all dissociative disorders into a single category.
Although some dissociative disruptions involve amnesia, other dissociative events do not. Dissociative disorders are typically experienced as startling, autonomous intrusions into the person's usual ways of responding or functioning. Due to their unexpected and largely inexplicable nature, they tend to be quite unsettling."
that is from Wikipedia - a pretty concise and understandable definition if not the most authoritative. there is a lot more there - including a section on how it is related to abuse.
i think we have probly all had varying degrees of it - even non-CSA survivors do. and one person can do different degrees of dissociation at different times. i have had temporary amnesia about some things - and just feel numbed to other memories that i was conscious of.
i see it as a way to endure without suffering the full effects of the trauma. like putting something on the "back burner" or "out of sight - out of mind" the opposite is staying present in the moment. my experience has been that eventually you have to "take the lid off" the things that you know are there but haven't yet allowed yourself to fully feel and deal with. that is where support is really important - a good therapist, select friends who understand, a life partner, even online help from the others here on MS - it all helps. it is not fun - but what is beyond is much more satisfying. dissociation tends to take over more of our lives than just the really bad parts that are hard to handle - makes everything more grey and muted and less enjoyable. you feel a lot more alive and engaged once you have en the garbage out of the way. at least that is how i see it.
Edited by traveler (05/19/14 08:28 AM)
"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself... And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." - Paulo Coelho