At the present time, the realisation that childhood abuse has happened to many certain terms like dissociation is being mentioned more. Even when a counsellor or psychotherapist may have explained what it is, confusion can occur over the explanation. This is quite normal after one hears what symptoms can indicate whether for a physical or emotional reason. So, what is dissociation and what’s in the spectrum?
Dissociation is the way the brain can try to protect someone who has gone through some traumatic events in childhood usually before the age of 8. If a child is not rescued and helped at the time, as many are and were not as abuse is hidden, then it can become a normal way for dealing with future traumas. Dissociation is a normal reaction that we may have when we are driving or even walking through hallways; you may realise you pasts roads or pictures on the wall but probably forgot. The symptoms for someone who had early trauma may be forgetfulness of the event as the brain is helping protect you by helping to psychologically flee from the situation. Everyone does forget some parts of their childhood, especially the early years, but forgetting almost all events before 12 or 15 is not normal.
There are various areas to the dissociative spectrum between what is normal and what is quite extreme levels. Some people may mostly have one of these but some have a mixture of many depending of the severity of childhood abuse. People with dissociation often have issues with memory which can be seen in dissociative amnesia which is more than normal forgetting so a person may leave their home and then forget where they live or may forget events from earlier in the day even when reminded. Depersonalisation can be a feeling that your less real, and feeling that they are not their normal self. Derealisation is when your environment feels sort of alien to you so you may be siting in your home thinking that it is not your home.
The complex dissociative disorders, which doesn’t mean the ones already mentioned are less scary, are DDNOS (dissociative disorder not otherwise specified) which are feelings or ideas that feel quite separate inside you but haven’t taken the shape of a separate personality. DID (dissociative identity disorder) is when the distinct personalities can have their own histories that were in one’s life but completely not known. It can be really scary and even normal events can appear absent from memory; yes, trauma maybe held by another personality but things like getting married or going on holiday in adult life may also feel alien even when looking at pictures that prove they are real. Some people have many personalities which can be hidden until they go to counselling and get a teamwork approach for the many. People can have DID and keep up full time jobs such as teachers, nurses, researchers, counsellors and doctors, others may need time off to recover from awful childhood lives. Less rare but important to mention is polyfragmented DID for those people that has 100 or more personalities or parts. These people would have had the most abusive childhoods where they were harmed by numerous people possibly in and outside people they know.
Dissociation does take longer to recover from as there were so many realise so many traumatic events were involved. So, when going for counselling ask what a possible counsellor knows about trauma as the dissociation may not have been named yet. Those who do recover can do so much more with their life.
Olivia Djouadi UKCP psychotherapist at Dr. J
Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed