Diagnosing and Dealing with Dissociative Disorders
Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve a breakdown or disruption of an individual’s memory awareness, personal identity or their power of perception. Of course, these dissociative disorders also disrupt the sufferer’s ability to cope with the world, handle stress and establish a firm sense of identity and where they fit into the world. Dissociative disorders come in a total of five different varieties, including:
- Disorders: marked by a detachment from the self and feelings that the individual’s life and existence are somehow “unreal”
- Dissociative Amnesia: this is a disorder noted for a degree of recall impairment that generally results from emotional trauma
- Dissociative Fugue: this is known for a person physically deserting familiar surroundings and the limited ability to recall the past. This can often result in identity confusion and perhaps even the abandonment of who they are in favor of a “new” identity
- Dissociative Identify Disorder: where a person alternates between two or more distinct and separate personalities and states that have impaired recall of important facts for each identity or personality
- Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: this is a grouping to contain all other dissociative disorders that don’t simply fall into one of the other four categories
Lasting Effects of Childhood Trauma
Dissociative disorders deal with the personality, and personality is formed in the childhood years. When serious or overwhelming trauma happens in early childhood, the child’s mind goes to great lengths to protect itself and close off the source of trauma in effective yet potentially disastrous ways. Dissociative disorders can stem from physical, emotional, mental or sexual abuse or other instances of childhood trauma like surviving hostage situations, incidents of extreme violence or occurrences that otherwise have a massive impact on the child’s psychological status.
When serious incidents like these occur but the abuse or trauma are kept secret or are otherwise ignored, the child’s mind can go to incredible lengths to process the information or totally block it off. Because this can happen while the personality is developing, the effects can be both immediate and long-term.
Treating Dissociative Disorders
Although dealing with the effects of dissociative disorder is an intense and difficult process, these disorders can be successfully treated with the proper mix of psychotherapy, hypnosis and medication. While these efforts may not ultimately lead to a “cure”, it can allow the sufferer to learn how to effectively cope and deal with their disorder while leading a healthy and productive life. For obvious reasons, the sooner dissociative disorders are dealt with, the less time the sufferer will have to create complex methods for hiding or sequestering the memories and events that led to the dissociative state in the first place.
If you or someone else you know are showing symptoms of a dissociative disorder ranging from memory loss, a feeling that life is unreal or illusionary, detachment or other warning signs that the personality may have sectioned off portions of the psyche that cannot be accessed at will, take the time out to meet with a mental health professional who can determine if you are suffering from one of the five varieties of dissociative disorder or some other form of a mental health issue. There are a multitude of different treatment options including in and out-patient programs, group therapies, one-on-one counseling and much, much more.
When you find answers to your questions, you’ll find freedom from your illness and a new lease on life that provides you with safety, security and stability that you once thought were impossible to obtain.