What is Dissociation?

Zoning out or dissociation? Dissociation can make you feel out of touch with your body, as though you are floating through life.

Dissociation is a mental process where a person becomes disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, memories, or sense of self. An example is when a person feels out of touch with their body, almost like an outer body experience. It is as though they know their body is going through daily tasks, yet they feel out of touch. It is very common and typical at times for people to daydream, lose touch, or be deep in thought about an idea they are having. This is often referred to as “zoning out” and is the mildest form of dissociation.

What makes you dissociate?

Dissociation can severely impact up to 10% of the population. More importantly, 75% of the people who have experienced a significant traumatic event will enter a dissociated state of mind. This can happen either during the traumatic event or for days, weeks, or even months following this experience. Symptoms include a feeling of being numb to pain or emotions, mental fog, not knowing how you got somewhere and even having intense flashbacks (Wingaton, 2021). At times, many people aren’t even aware that they are in this dissociative state. Similarly, someone who has experienced childhood trauma can also create a dissociation state when they are exposed to a similar traumatic event as an adult. An example of this could be an individual who has had a recent separation or divorce triggered by a time as a child when they were abandoned. 

How can someone get support when they are experiencing dissociation? 

It can be helpful to talk and stay connected with your community and support system. Having loved ones to talk to can allow you to regain your sense of balance and feel validated. Psychotherapy is a common form of treatment for dissociation. In counselling, the therapist can utilize various somatic interventions (connecting mind and body) that work on building self-awareness. These types of grounding techniques can provide someone the ability to connect their body and mind back together. Discussing your trauma in a contained area that feels safe with a trained professional provides the space needed to allow you to integrate the elements of mind and body. 

Dissociation can have a significant negative effect on your body and your life, but can be treated. If you or someone you know is experiencing this, finding opportunities to connect with areas in your life where you feel grounded and centered such as meditation, yoga, and counselling can be beneficial. 

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