Dissociation, trauma and psychosis

images-36Dissociation is a “shutting down” of experience, memory, perception. Often but not always it is a reaction to trauma. Especially when physical escape is impossible, dissociation allows a victim to escape mentally. It is actually a survival mechanism.

Dissociation happens pre-consciously. That is, before we can think about it, so it seems beyond our control. It is a switching off or shutting down of our usual information-processing brain connections. Also, traumatic memories can get stored in a different part of the brain from normal memories. Dissociation may help to keep this trauma store separate and stop it from being processed normally.

Our recent paper  showed that dissociation can explain some of  the relationship between abuse in childhood and psychotic-type symptoms in a student population. Another paper showed recently how lots of coping to survive trauma can later work against us whilst we are safe. Avoidance, numbing and hyperaraousal continue to be our ways of coping when we don’t really need them. The they cause us problems, including hearing voices and having unrealistic or paranoid beliefs.

If you need help with dissociation you may with to contact one of our therapists. Or if you are a clinician you may want to come on one of our dissociation courses

If you want to read more on dissociation, why not get our book?