Dissociation (Defense Mechanism)
When dissociation is used as a defense mechanism, the individual copes with acute emotional stress by changing the usual awareness of self, that is, by feeling detached from the usual sense of body (depersonalization) or surroundings (derealization), or by breaking the autobiographic continuity across time, which can lead to amnesias, or an unstable or divided sense of self (like different personalities in one body). In this process, stressors are put out of conscious awareness. Dissociation has been also defined as “lack of normal integration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences into the stream of consciousness and memory” (Bernstein and Putnam 1986, p. 727). As a maladaptive mechanism, the lack of awareness of the stressor impedes effective problem solving.
Dissociation appears to be a personality trait ranging from common, mild, and transient states to chronic and pathological conditions (Ray et al. 1992) and might not necessarily be always a defense...
- Blizard, R. A. (1997). The origins of dissociative identity disorder from an object relations and attachment theory perspective. Dissociation, 10, 223–229.Google Scholar
- Breuer, J., & Freud, S. (1893/1955). On the psychical mechanisms of hysterical phenomena: preliminary communication. In J. Strachey, The standard edition of the complete works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. II), pp. 3–17. London: The Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
- McNally, R. J., Clancy, S. A., Schacter, D. L., & Pitman, R. K. (2000). Personality profiles, dissociation, and absorption in women reporting repressed, recovered, or continuous memories of childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 1033–1037.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- van der Kruijs, S. J., Bodde, N. M., Carrette, E., Lazeron, R. H., Vonck, R. E., Boon, P. A., Langereis, G. R., Cluitman, P. J., Feijs, L. M., Hofman, P. A., Backes, W. J., & Aldenkamp, A. P. (2014). Neurophysiological correlates of dissociative symptoms. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 85, 174–179.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar