Interesting email discussion over the last few days about dissociation. There are so many ways that people dissociate, even in everyday life, that it’s sometimes hard to pin down exactly what we mean. Dissociation can be something as extreme as multiple personalities or fugue states, but can also be used to describe daydreaming or “highway hypnosis” -That feeling you get when driving where you suddenly realize you’re almost to your destination and you barely remember the trip at all.
I guess it’s always been my belief that dissociating is only really dangerous when it interferes in your daily life. Like it did in mine with the fugue state that took me away for a whole month. Other, less intrusive forms can actually be somewhat normal and healthy ways of dealing with pain, or stress. Think of the athlete who can “ignore the pain” and continue to play as an example where dissociating may actually be helpful. But either way, it should never be the only tool we have in our emotional toolbox for dealing with stress. (Did I really just use that metaphor? Ick! *L*) Learn to recognize stress and anxiety and learn to deal with it in a healthy way before it reaches the point where you would feel the need to dissociate. Life’s much better that way!