August 1st, 2006


Thought stirring Question of the week: Dissociation

One of the symptoms many abuse survivors often have is dissociation. Dissociation is when we become disconnected, in a way, from our surroundings. Some people describe it as "spacing out", and the effect on the brain is similar to a daydream, though very different in other aspects. Often, if we're struggling with difficult emotions, flashbacks, or are actively in an abusive situation, our brain will disconnect from our body. Sometimes we have no memory of what happened during that time while other times we imagine we're someplace more pleasant.

Dissociation is one way our brain tries to cope with the stress of trauma. When we're in an abusive situation, it's an advantage to not be consciously present when we're being abused. However, once we are out of an abusive situation, dissociation can be frustrating to us and sometimes put us in harm's way unintentionally. If we're dissociated, we're not usually in active control over our bodies. While our brains know to avoid danger, the state of dissociation makes us rely more on instinctual self-defense instead of preventative self-defense. For example, when dissociated, we might step off the curb onto a street because we see no cars ahead of us - while if we were in conscious control, we'd look both ways to make sure no cars *could* be coming.

So this week's question will focus on dissociation, when it happens to you, and how you deal with it or try to prevent it. Sometimes, we can learn a great deal from other survivors, so please, feel free to discuss :)

This week's questions are:
- Do you dissociate? Is there a common thread in the times you dissociate most often? (is there a specific trigger that causes dissociation, etc?)
- How do you cope with dissociation? Do you have any ways to bring yourself back from dissociation or to prevent it?