Dissociation strategies


Coping Strategies: When Solutions Become The Problem

‘Dissociation’ is the psychological phenomenon of becoming ‘detached’ from a key part of your personal experience. It is a way of ‘splitting off’ from suffering so that the pain (feelings and usually memories) is consigned to another part of the mind. In situations of very great and ongoing abuse, dissociation is sometimes the only strategy that young children have.

Dissociative strategies can cause significant difficulties in later life and should be worked on with an experienced professional specialist. Here are some of the more common forms of dissociation:

Dissociated emotional states – finding yourself switching between very different or opposite emotional states.

Disengagement/’spacing out’ – Losing awareness of the present for short (or sometimes longer) periods. Sometimes there may be loss of memory, or ‘coming to’ in a place or situation and not knowing how you got there.

Derealisation – Feeling like you are living in a movie or a dream; nothing feels real.

Depersonalisation – Feeling outside your own body, watching yourself do things from a distance.

Fugue – Travelling significant distances, sometimes over long periods of time, with no memory or knowledge of it.

More than one personality – the experience of having different people living inside you.

Pain or body symptoms – for some people, physical pain or discomfort which does not appear to have a medical cause may be related to early abuse.