Dissociation (psychology)

This article is about the psychological state of dissociation. For other uses, see Dissociation.


Dissociation is a state of acute mental decompensation in which certain thoughts, emotions, sensations, and/or memories are compartmentalized because they are too overwhelming for the conscious mind to integrate. This subconscious strategy for managing powerful negative emotions is sometimes referred to as "splitting", as these thoughts, emotions, sensations, and/or memories are "split off" from the integrated ego. This use of the word "splitting" here should not be confused with references to splitting mentioned with regard to borderline personality disorder or family relations theory.

The French psychiatrist Pierre Janet (1859-1947) initially coined the term splitting in his book L'Automatisme psychologique. There, he emphasized its role as a defensive mechanism employed in response to psychological trauma. While he considered dissociation an initially effective defense mechanism that protects the individual psychologically from the impact of overwhelming traumatic events, a habitual tendency to dissociate would likely be a marker of a more pronounced psychopathology.

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition considers symptoms such as depersonalization (DSM-IV Codes 300.6[1]), derealization, and Dissociative Amnesia (DSM-IV Codes 300.12[2]) to be core features of dissociative disorders (DSM-IV Codes Dissociative Disorders[3]). However, in the normal population mild dissociative experiences are highly prevalent, with 60% to 65% of the respondents indicating that they have had dissociative experiences at least some of the time. [4]

Attention to dissociation as a clinical feature has been growing in recent years as a concomitant to knowledge of post-traumatic stress disorder, and as neuroimaging research and population studies show its relevance. Dissociation most often makes the news with regards to soldiers' responses to wartime stress, rape victims with amnesia for details, and in occasional criminal trials where the question of whether a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) can be responsible for his or her actions.

Perhaps the most widely-known form of dissociative disorder is DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) (see Multiple personality controversy).

Psychoactive substances can often induce a state of temporary dissociation. Substances with dissociative properties include ketamine, nitrous oxide, tiletamine, DXM and PCP.

Dissociation in Jung's theory of the structure of the psyche.

Jung focused on the evidence of dissociation in the more or less normal individual and postulated that the psyche has structural separation of opposing faculties and tension between them. Dissociation is a natural necessity for consciousness to operate in one faculty unhampered by the demands of its opposite.

It is, in particular, the phenomena of somnambulism, double consciousness, split personality, etc., whose investigation we owe primarily to the French school, that have enabled us to accept the possibility of a plurality of personalities in one and the same individual (Jung, [1921] 1971:par. 797).


It is at once evident that such a plurality of personalities can never appear in a normal individual. But, as the above mentioned phenomena show, the possibility of a dissociation of personality must exist, at least in the germ, within the range of the normal. And, as a matter of fact, any moderately acute psychological observer will be able to demonstrate, without much difficulty, traces of character-splitting in normal individuals. … In accordance with social conditions and requirements, the social character is oriented on the one hand by the expectations and demands of society, and on the other by the social aims and aspirations of the individual. … Which is the true character, the real personality? This question is often impossible to answer (Jung, [1921] 1971:par. 798).


These reflections show that even in normal individuals character-splitting is by no means an impossibility. We are, therefore, fully justified in treating personality dissociation as a problem of normal psychology (Jung, [1921] 1971:par. 799).


The structural dissociation, opposing tension, and hierarchy of basic attitudes and functions in normal individual consciousness is the basis of Jung's Psychological Types. He describes the positive traits of each theoretically "pure" type ("pure" meaning completely depending on the conscious use of the dominant psychological function and attitude, and completely repressing or dissociating the opposing structural function and attitude). He also describes in detail the devastating pathological effects of each pure type's ignorance of the autonomous unconsciousness operation and opposing archaic influence of its inferior function and attitude.

Jung's theory explains pathological manifestions of dissociation as special or extreme cases of the normal operation of the psyche.

See also

References

  • Jung, C.G. [1921] (1971). Psychological Types, Collected Works, Volume 6, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01813-8.
Dissociation has different meanings in different sciences.
  • Dissociation (chemistry)
  • Dissociation (psychology)
  • Dissociation (neuropsychology)

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Decompensation is the functional deterioration of a previously working structure or system. Decompensation may occur due to fatigue, stress, illness, or old age. When a system is "compensated", it is able to function despite stressors or defects.
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Thought or thinking is a mental process which allows beings to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires.
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emotion is a "complex reaction pattern, involving experiential, behavioral, and physiological elements, by which the individual attempts to deal with a personally significant matter of event.
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In psychology, sensation is the first stage in the biochemical and neurologic events that begins with the impinging of a stimulus upon the receptor cells of a sensory organ, which then leads to perception, the mental state that is reflected in statements like "I see a uniformly
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In psychology, memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and subsequently retrieve information. Traditional studies of memory began in the realms of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing the memory.
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Compartmentalizing is the act of splitting an idea or concept up into (sometimes more or less arbitrary) parts, and trying to enforce thought processes which are inhibiting attempts to allow these parts to mix together again in an attempt to simplify things.
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Splitting can refer to:
  • In mathematics, partition
  • In geometric topology, Heegard splitting
  • In topology, manifold decomposition
  • Preparation of wood fuel (splitting wood)
  • In psychoanalysis, dissociation

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ego integrity as the ego's accumulated assurance of its capacity for order and meaning. This experience of consistency leads to the development of a reliable sense of self, a reliable sense of other, and an understanding of how those constructs interact to form a person's
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 Borderline personality disorder 
Classification & external resources

ICD-10 F60.30 Impulsive type, F60.31 Borderline type
ICD-9 301.83

Borderline Personality Disorder (DSM-IV Personality Disorders 301.
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Motto
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
Anthem
"La Marseillaise"


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A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in psychiatry and is certified in treating mental illness.[1] As part of their evaluation of the patient, psychiatrists are one of only a few mental health professionals who may prescribe psychiatric medication, conduct
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Pierre Marie Félix Janet (May 30 1859 - February 24 1947) was a pioneering French psychologist in the field of dissociation and traumatic memory.

He was one of the first persons to draw a connection between events in the subject's past life and their present day trauma, and
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Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a traumatic event. When that trauma leads to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, damage can be measured in physical changes inside the brain and to brain chemistry, which affect the person's
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In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defense mechanisms are unconscious resources used by the ego to reduce conflict between the id and superego and thereby anxiety. For that reason they are more accurately referred to as ego defence mechanisms.
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Psychopathology is a term which refers to either the study of mental illness or mental distress, or the manifestation of behaviors and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment.
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The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the main professional organization of psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists in the United States, and the most influential world-wide. Its some 148,000 members are mainly American but some are international.
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is an American handbook for mental health professionals that lists different categories of mental disorder and the criteria for diagnosing them, according to the publishing organization the American Psychiatric
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Depersonalization is an alteration in the perception or experience of the self so that one feels detached from, and as if one is an outside observer of, one's mental processes or body.
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, also known as DSM-IV-TR, is a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that includes all currently recognized mental health disorders.
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Derealization (DR) is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems strange or unreal.[1] It is a dissociative symptom of many conditions, such as psychiatric and neurological disorders, and not a standalone disorder.
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Dissociative Amnesia (formerly Psychogenic Amnesia) (DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders 300.12[1]).

Dissociative Amnesia is popularized by popular culture, particularly film, related to trauma or general psychological disorientation.
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, also known as DSM-IV-TR, is a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that includes all currently recognized mental health disorders.
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Dissociative Disorders[1] are defined as conditions that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity and/or perception. The hypothesis is that symptoms can result, to the extent of interfering with a person's general functioning, when one or more of
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, also known as DSM-IV-TR, is a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that includes all currently recognized mental health disorders.
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Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the term for a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma.[1] The latter may involve someone's actual death or a threat to the patient's or someone else's life, serious physical injury, or threat to
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Neuroimaging includes the use of various techniques to either directly or indirectly image the structure, function/pharmacology of the brain. It is a relatively new discipline within medicine and neuroscience.
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MeSH D009105

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), as defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), is a mental condition whereby a single individual evidences two or more distinct identities or
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The existence of multiple personalities within an individual personality is diagnosed as Dissociative identity disorder (DID) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
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A psychoactive drug or psychotropic substance is a chemical substance that acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behavior.
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