The Word for the Day: Dissociation

Dissociation is a normal response to overwhelming and life threatening circumstances.

It is the primary defense of very young children who must cope with and survive violent and abusive environments.

I found this short video on YouTube.

I like it because it provides a clear and easy to understand psychiatric definition of a complex process that all of us use at some point in our lives.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the link to the source video.

My gratitude to everyone who tells me that they want to know more about Dissociative Identity Disorder.

19 thoughts on “The Word for the Day: Dissociation

  1. I have been going through a very hard time with my PTSD in the last 2 or more years. My doctor said to me the other day, the first time anyone has said this to me, she thought I had dissociated. Yes, I think I have and have done for a very very long time. Very hard to pull out of. Thanks for your well written blogs on the issue of PTSD.

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    1. Hi Louise,

      In my work I had many clients who had severe trauma related problems and all of them experienced dissociative flashbacks.

      If the abuse that shaped my childhood had begin when I was four or five it is likely that I would have PTSD without Dissociative Identity Disorder.Contrary to an astonishing amount of misinformation about DID on the internet Dissociative Identity Disorder is not a personality disorder; is not a symptom of narcissism and does not develop in adulthood. People who develop ‘new alternates’ in adulthood do this because it is the only way someone with DID can navigate the normal phases of life.

      If you lose time or often have the feeling that you are watching yourself or that your body is not under your control then you may have DID.

      But it is normal to dissociate, everyone does it, and it is a common trauma symptom with DID being one of the most extreme and difficult symptom to resolve.

      Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment.

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  2. A short video that relates a lot! I learnt a lot today Rob (including the Narcissist post) and it is all ‘food for thought.’ Keep fighting to keep your head above the water. You have set boundaries to keep the narcissist out of your life and you’ve done it with dignity and integrity (you did not lower yourself to his/her level and instead, walked away and sacrificed your Flicker (?) account – a wise move in that, it is less damaging or costly than if you continued to co-run it). You sound like you’re gaining in strength in dealing with this person and I for one, applaud you. All the best Rob.


    1. Thank you for your kind words…especially on the topic of the ‘narcissist’…

      I cannot believe that I went to my pending box today and found a comment. It is the most extraordinary display of disregard for my boundaries that I’ve ever seen in my adult life. The only other person who had this degree of disregard for another person’s boundaries was my Mother. Maybe that’s the point. What is one to think? The entire comment is a word hash from different self help phrases. This person honestly believes that my reactions are the result of some moral failing on my part. How can I not see that anything s/he has to say, any kind word is useless as long as s/he continues to keep my property.

      In is unbelievable.

      I didn’t give up my account…but I gave up a group that I worked hard to build.

      Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment–:)


  3. People don’t understand that they are dissociating when they over do any activity. Cleaning, shopping, workaholics, online for hours, constantly checking their phones, over eating, drinking, exercising, being a busy body- anything that takes us away from the self and dealing with our own pain of abandonment and neglect. We all have aspects of all humanity in us, just in differing degrees.

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    1. You’re absolutely right. The other night I saw an interview with Betty White. She discussed the character of ‘Rose.’ As I listened I realized that she was describing ‘Rose’ the way someone with DID might describe a favorite alternate. Then she said something that really hit home. She was asked about her favorite episode and she said it was when Rose had entered a Miami song contest. She said, “Betty doesn’t play piano but she winged it like she does everything!” and I thought wow. I’ve always suspected that god actors become their characters but I’ve never heard one refer to herself in third person. Jeremy Brett, who was my favorite Sherlock Holmes described the character of Holmes as possessing him…and as I understand it, toward the end of his life he felt that Holmes was killing him.

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      1. Wow, that is interesting. I know Narcissists refer to themselves in the 3rd person very often and there is certainly no shortage of them in Hollywood. I do think many over-identify with their characters. A double edged sword to being a good and convincing actor. I do think we all dissociate to some degree depending on the situation.


      2. I think it is not all bad, to dissociate to some degree, give your mind a break from overload, but like everything, too much input, where do you put it all? It is an amazing overflow process. Like watching my waterfall overflow from too much rain, the water going in all different directions looking to be absorbed somewhere unknown to where it came from.

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      3. I’ve heard that people with DID use areas of the brain that are not used by most people. I’m uncomfortable with the dismissive romanticism of the mentally ill person as ‘genius’. If that is true then the next logical question is why do we torture our geniuses.

        I can see how someone with DID might make more use of brain area because of the physiology of DID.

        Each alternate has its own set of memories, it’s own set of skills, a separate body image, a separate world view…that’s alot of wiring if you multiply it by the average of eight alternates that men with DID usually have.

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      4. That is AMAZING! The capability of the brain to re-wire itself to survive, no matter what, is fascinating. Our society tortures everyone who isn’t vanilla and it has a limited tolerance for permanent mental illness brought on by trauma and abuse. Duality of life and stupidity.

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      5. Our society seems to have no tolerance for anything that requires real commitment. T

        he one takeaway I get from the series of documentaries on ancient Greek democracy was how hard they worked to protect it. No it wasn’t perfect. Yes they had slaves. No, women weren’t allowed to participate. But they had a great idea about a form of government that unleashes the creative abilities of common people and creates enormous prosperity.

        If we are poor today as a people it is because we will not work to protect out democracy.

        Spouting off about your personal liberties is not the same as working in common cause to create the best possible form of government.

        Complaining about a system of government that you yourself have brought into being is the ultimate absurdity.

        Most of the people who are so ready to “water the tree of liberty’ with the blood of other people are angry because when democracy works, they don’t control everything.

        A society that tosses even a small number of its citizens onto the streets to die from hunger and exposure cannot honestly call itself civilized.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. The gov’t has become it’s own private society for the survival of itself rather than the people. The Ruling Class. At all costs. Nobody should be starving in America.

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