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Dissociation

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Dissociation

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

  

Description

Dissociation involves separating a set of thoughts or activities from the main area of conscious mind, in order to avoid the conflict that this would cause.

Dissociation can also appear as taking an objective, third-person perspective, where you 'go to the balcony' and look down on the situation in order to remove emotion from your perspective (this is sometimes called 'dissociation of affect').

Example

A religious person preaches kindness to all, yet is cruelly strict to children, without realizing that there is a conflict between the two.

A politician seeks legislation on government integrity, yet also has some shady private dealings. When challenged, they seem surprised that these are conflicting interests.

Discussion

Dissociation is of practical value where it keeps separate different parts of your life. However, as with the examples above, it can lead to moral dilemmas and professional suicide.

Dissociation occurs in conditions such as hysteria and schizophrenia. In hysteria, a large piece of the conscious mind is separated, whilst in schizophrenia there are a number of smaller portions separated from one another.

Dissociation is very close to compartmentalization.

So what?

Where you can see a person dissociating, talk to them in their current value set in order to be accepted in the moment.

Telling the person that they have another persona may well lead to denial or some other defense.

Taking an objective 'out of the body' perspective has the effect of leaving emotions in the body. This is used in therapy to help a person review a situation without revisiting the emotions involved. You can also use it conversationally, with such as 'Let's stand back from this...' or 'looking down on the situation...'.

See also

Compartmentalization

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