Dissociation takes many different forms, some effect everyday life or affect people every now and then, and other forms of dissociation can lead to distress and/or problems in everyday life. If these other forms of dissociative experiences happen several times – or once, but for an extended period of time – then they become problematic (pathological).
Dissociation can be seen as a spectrum, or more recently tends to be categorized as Normal/Normative, or Pathological Dissociation (i.e., the diagnosable/problematic kind).
Types of Normal Dissociation
– Day dreaming
– Spacing out (briefly)
– Absorption (e.g., in a book)
– Highway hypnosis (expected travel with gaps in memory)
Types of Pathological Dissociation
– Numbing (emotional and/or physical) – a symptom of PTSD, Depression and others
– Freeze Response – a symptom of PTSD and DID and others, common during trauma
– Out of Body Experiences (form of Depersonalization) – common during trauma, sometimes happens during near-death experiences, may also happen in BPD, and DID
– ‘Wall staring’ (spacing out, common in Depression)
– Trance states (e.g., Dissociative Trance Disorder in the ICD-10 manual, can happen in other disorders)
– Maladaptive day dreaming*
– Derealization (either you/the world doesn’t feel real) – a separate diagnosis but also a symptom of BPD, Dissociative PTSD, and DID
– Depersonalization (part of all of you doesn’t seem like you) – also symptom of BPD, Dissociative PTSD, and DID
– Amnesia (without a physical cause) -a separate diagnosis but also a symptom of PTSD and DID
– Fugue states (unexpected travel, sometimes with loss of or change in identity)
– Identity alterations/switching – a symptom of Dissociative Identity Disorder, and OSDD
– Catatonia (can be present in Schizophrenia)
– Pseudo Seizures/Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures – dissociative reactions to stressors
– Dissociative movement or sensation problems – also known as Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder (FND), or Conversion Disorder
* not currently a diagnosis
Problematic types of dissociation are recognized as mental health problems – and can be either a Dissociative Disorder or a common symptom/experience involved in another kind of mental health problem, such as depression.
Can you think of any which are missing? Leave a comment if you can.
- Dissociative Disorders (http://traumadissociation.com)
- Dissociative Experiences Scale (traumadissociation.com)
- The Trauma Freeze Response – Playing possum? (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)
- DDNOS1 and Dissociative Identity Disorder – Do you know the differences? (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)
- Dissociative Identity Disorder and Amnesia (drkathleenyoung.wordpress.com)
- Educational Videos about DID (discussingdissociation.wordpress.com)
- Co-consciousness (Heathershelpers blog)