Linked Diagnoses- Dissociation

In simplest terms, dissociation is the ability for an individual to disconnect emotionally from the external environment and focus on internal motivating factors during traumatic events (Morrison, 2006). Dissociation is a natural response to chaotic circumstances.  By mentally removing oneself from the situation people are able to calmly and rationally make life-saving decisions while protecting themselves from the emotional distress of the incident. This is often the case for rescue workers, law enforcement officers, and military personnel.

Dissociation becomes problematic when it causes some of the individual’s thoughts or feelings to become detached from their everyday awareness (Morison, 2000, p. 318). This leads people to forget important details about their lives or makes them unable to fulfill their roles in society (APA, 2000). Typically the severity and duration of the traumatic event determines the individual’s degree of dissociation. These individuals may be unable to form close attachment with others, forget their past and travel elsewhere (fugue), or even develop separate distinct personalities to deal with certain portions of their life or past (Morrison, 2006). Counseling tends to view dissociation as existing on a continuum from least to most detrimental to an individual’s overall functioning. Treatment techniques also vary to accommodate the individual’s need. 


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