Dissociative disorders


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Dissociative disorders

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Dissociative disorders


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Dissociative disorders

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Borderline personality disorder p. 588

dissociative identity disorder p. 581


dissociative identity disorder p. 581

Dissociative disorders p. 581

Dissociative identity disorder p. 581

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) p. 585, 587

dissociative identity disorder p. 581

Substance abuse

dissociative identity disorder and p. 581



Simone Taylor

Sam Gillespie, BSc

Maybe you’ve had the experience of driving on “autopilot.”

One minute you got in your car, and the next minute you’ve arrived at your destination, but you can’t actually remember the details of the drive.

This is an example of normal, everyday dissociation, a term that describes a mental state of disconnection from what’s going around you.

This daydream-like state doesn’t normally last very long, and most people can snap out of it if something or someone requires their attention.

But for some people, dissociation is more pervasive, and can’t be turned off so easily.

In fact, this feeling of “disconnectedness” may become so intense and happen so often that it stops a person from functioning in their daily life.

When this is the case, we say the person has a dissociative disorder.

Dissociative disorders are a group of disorders that impair awareness of your own actions, thoughts, physical sensations, and even your identity, or sense of who you are.

Dissociative disorders stem usually stem from trauma (usually early childhood abuse or neglect) and are thought to be a way of adapting to negative feelings and experiences.

Dissociative disorders are divided into three main types: depersonalization/derealization disorder, dissociative amnesia, and dissociative identity disorder.

Each of these disorders can be lined up along a spectrum of severity, with depersonalization/derealization disorder being the least severe of the dissociative disorders, dissociative amnesia falling somewhere in the middle, and dissociative identity disorder being the most severe.

Typically, individuals with more severe dissociative disorders have elements of less severe ones as well.

With depersonalization/derealization disorder, depersonalization refers to a feeling of detachment from oneself, of one’s own person, while derealization refers to a feeling that that the world around you is not fully real.


  1. "Robbins Basic Pathology" Elsevier (2017)
  2. "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, Twentieth Edition (Vol.1 & Vol.2)" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2018)
  3. "Pathophysiology of Disease: An Introduction to Clinical Medicine 8E" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2018)
  4. "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth edition (DSM-5)" American Psychiatric Association (2013)
  5. "Prevalence, Reliability and Validity of Dissociative Disorders in an Inpatient Setting" Journal of Trauma & Dissociation (2002)
  6. "Guidelines for the Evaluation and Treatment of Dissociative Symptoms in Children and Adolescents: International Society for the Study of Dissociation" Journal of Trauma & Dissociation (2004)

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