What are Dissociative Disorders?

During mentally and physically traumatic events, the brain often uses some form of defense mechanism to avoid long-term damage from the trauma. For example, let’s say you were being beaten severely or tortured. The mind can’t fathom this situation, so it’s unable to process what’s going on at the moment.

When this happens, the individual experiencing the trauma most of the time leaves their body. They won’t leave physically – they’re not present mentally in any shape or form.

During these encounters, many victims aren’t aware of what’s happening to them and have little to no recollection of the event afterward. They disconnect from the situation at such a high level that they don’t experience any pain during the encounter.

Keep reading to find out more about what it means to disassociate, and how to find effective forms of help with Emerald Isle if trauma is impacting your daily life!

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What is the Definition of Disassociation

The problem with conditions like this is the fact that many people self-diagnose after watching homemade videos on platforms like TikTok. While these videos can be helpful sources of information at times, in no way are they meant to provide an official diagnosis, and sometimes awareness is misplaced because of false information or inaccurate descriptions of conditions like this.

Emerald Isle is a facility well-equipped to handle disassociation and dissociative identity disorder triggered by trauma, hopefully, this article clears up information regarding the driving forces behind disassociation and the different types that accompany dissociative disorders.

This is what’s known as disassociating. Disassociation is harder to define for different people as the experience can take on new meanings and can happen at the moment of trauma or even years later. In some cases, disassociation isn’t even associated with trauma. We’ll break down the common word disassociate, including causes and other relevant information.

What Does the Word Disassociate Mean and Why Does It Happen?

Many individuals probably disassociate at some point in their lives. Dissociation can cause you to feel alienated from your body and the world around you. Examples include experiencing disconnection from your physical self or the world around you. Keep in mind that dissociation manifests itself in different ways for different people.

Dissociation can occur when the mind experiences overwhelming stress, such as in the aftermath of a catastrophic incident. Dissociative experiences can persist for a short time (hours to days) or for a very lengthy period (weeks or months).

Dissociative disorders can emerge from prolonged dissociation, especially in young people. The condition shifts from being an occasional occurrence to becoming the primary method through which you cope with stressful situations.

Dissociation is an automatic response to trauma for many people. This might be a reaction to a single horrific experience, or it could be the result of continuous abuse or mistreatment.

Causes of Disassociation

Mental health issues, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar illness, or borderline personality disorder, can cause dissociation. Another cause of dissociation is alcohol or certain medications or their withdrawal.

Additionally, a huge factor in causing disassociation is a traumatic event. Trauma triggers that cause you to relive the past trauma also can cause disassociation events, even for prolonged periods of time.

How Does It Feel to Disassociate?

How Does It Feel to Disassociate

Many distinct kinds of dissociation are possible. Psychologists have attempted to classify and label these phenomena. This information can aid in diagnosing a dissociative disorder by medical professionals. You don’t need a dissociative condition to have one of these experiences, known as disconnective disassociation.

It’s possible that you could:

  • Experience memory lapses where you can’t place certain events
  • Lose your ability to recall personal or historical details
  • You could experience dissociative amnesia and even move somewhere else and change your appearance
  • It’s possible to move, change your identity, and not recall your previous identity
  • Everything could feel like a dream
  • You perceive your surroundings as unreal
  • Witness changing shapes, forms, and colors is a common sign
  • Have a depressed or negative outlook on the world
  • Another sign is imagining that people are robots

Life Is a Movie & Other Examples of Disassociation

Sometimes, people who disassociate often feel like they’re watching their lives in a movie – meaning they’re distanced or separate from reality. They describe the feeling as “being on the outside and looking in on their life.” Individuals recall experiencing the following:

  • The distinct feeling of watching their life through a window or on film is a textbook definition sign of this phenomenon
  • They feel like they’re watching their feelings and emotions as elements separate from them
  • Feel like they’re floating in midair or walking on air
  • They feel there are no boundaries between them and other people – they’re not sure where they end and the other person begins.

Internal Experiences and Loss of Control

Internal Experiences and Loss of Control

The following are more in line with symptoms of long-term dissociative identity disorder. Those who go through disassociation may also be in tune with their internal feelings or changes in their and other people’s moods. They might experience the following:

  • Feeling like their identity is changing internally
  • Use a completely different voice or set of voices for each personality
  • Use different names
  • Have intense personality changes switching between identities
  • Feel like someone else is in control of their life

Flashbacks and Traumatic Recollections

The recollection of a traumatic event, or “trigger,” can bring on many emotions, including dissociation. It may be anything you see, hear, taste, smell, or feel. It can be something you’re thinking about or some physical action you’re taking. There are several potential triggers.

Having a flashback might feel like you’re reliving a terrifying incident, and you could even take on a different personality or engage in extreme behaviors. You may discover that memories that have been separated (either due to forgetfulness or because you associate various parts of your identity with distinct experiences) come flooding back while recalling past events.

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Long-Term Recovery from Dissociative Disorders

At Emerald Isle Health and Recovery, we specialize in a number of different behavioral health disorders as well as other mental health challenges and conditions. We provide treatment and support with or without substance abuse involved and look forward to helping you achieve long-term recovery from disassociation or any dissociative disorder.

For more information or resources on how we can help you achieve long-term recovery, contact a member of our admissions team today!