By: Shari Kim, Ph.D.
Although we think of the various types of dissociative disorders as being a series of separate diagnoses, dissociation is really a continuum. On one end of the continuum is the sort of commonplace and infrequent dissociation that most people have, like absorption. Imagine you are driving or riding in a car somewhere, lost in thought, not really paying attention to where you are. Suddenly you look up and realize you are halfway to your destination and don’t remember the last 10 minutes of your travel. That type of dissociation is absorption.
At the next level of dissociation are the types that come with PTSD, which are depersonalization and derealization. Depersonalization is the feeling of living in someone else’s body or being disconnected from one’s body, while derealization is the feeling of walking around in a dream state. Depersonalization might manifest as looking in the mirror and seeing an unfamiliar face...