Dissociative Disorders are conditions that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity or perception. People with dissociative disorders use dissociation, a defense mechanism, pathologically and involuntarily. Dissociative disorders are thought to primarily be caused by psychological trauma.
Examples of dissociative disorders:
- Dissociative identity disorder (formerly multiple personality disorder): the alternation of two or more distinct personality states with impaired recall among personality states. In extreme cases, the host personality is unaware of the other, alternating personalities; however, the alternate personalities are aware of all the existing personalities. This category now includes the old derealization disorder category.
- Dissociative amnesia (formerly psychogenic amnesia): the temporary loss of recall memory, specifically episodic memory, due to a traumatic or stressful event. It is considered the most common dissociative disorder amongst those documented. This disorder can occur abruptly or gradually and may last minutes to years depending on the severity of the trauma and the patient. Dissociative fugue (formerly psychogenic fugue) is now subsumed under the Dissociative amnesia category. It is described as reversible amnesia for personal identity, usually involving unplanned travel or wandering, sometimes accompanied by the establishment of a new identity. This state is typically associated with stressful life circumstances and can be short or lengthy.
- Depersonalization disorder: periods of detachment from self or surrounding which may be experienced as "unreal" (lacking in control of or "outside of" self) while retaining awareness that this is only a feeling and not a reality.
The old category of Dissociative disorder not otherwise specified is now split into two: Other specified dissociative disorder, and unspecified dissociative disorder. These categories are used for forms of pathological dissociation that do not fully meet the criteria of the other specified dissociative disorders, or if the correct category has not been determined.
Both dissociative amnesia and dissociative fugue usually emerge in adulthood and rarely occur after the age of 50. [source: wikipedia]
Dissociative Disorder resources and related articles and links
- International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation
- "Understanding Dissociative Disorders" - Psych Central article