Skip Navigation

Search Knowledgebase

Dissociation

Dissociation is a person's unconscious attempt at self-protection against an overwhelming and traumatic experience, which may result from severe and prolonged maltreatment, sexual abuse, and/or neglect during childhood. The mind separates itself from an event or the environment so it can maintain some degree of order and sense.

Dissociation responses vary by individual. But some common dissociation experiences include:

  • Feelings of "standing outside" oneself or "watching from a distance" during a traumatic event.
  • Developing significant personality changes and problems with mental processes.
  • Incomplete or lack of memory of traumatic events.
  • Appearing to have no sense of emotion regarding traumatic events.

Dissociation that does not resolve on its own or is causing behavior or mental health problems requires professional counseling. Medicines may also be used as part of treatment.

Last Revised: December 7, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.