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Dissociative Disorders and What Is to Know About Them

Updated on December 16, 2019
Cortney Crowell profile image

Creative writer, about to enter college for a masters degree in social work to become a clinical social worker

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Dissociative Amnesia

A basic definition is memory loss that is more than your simple forgetfulness. You know how sometimes you forget about where you placed your phone, or remote controller? This is way worse than a simple forgetfulness. The main symptom is memory loss, but there are a few key amnesia's for this disorder.

1) Localized Amnesia- Localized amnesia is being unable to recall events in a specific timeframe, this time frame usually related to some sort of traumatic or stressful event. Like for example, the timeframe may be a 1-2 month timeframe (the person not being able to recall events that happening during those 1-2 months)

2) Generalized Amnesia- People with this amnesia forget their identity as a whole, and they often forget their life history. This one is very scary to think about, especially losing your identity and not knowing anything about your past. Probably the most serious one out of the 5.

3) Selective Amnesia- Forgetting only SOME events in a specific time frame. This one is somewhat related to Localized Amnesia except this one does not have to deal with the trauma or stress and you're not forgetting everything, just a few events that maybe aren't as important.

4) Continuous Amnesia- Forgetting each new event that occurs. This one is like a never ending cycle of forgetfulness if you think about it. Also, scary to think about.

5) Systematized Amnesia- Forgetting information in certain categories such as information of a family member. People with this amnesia often forget things about a certain family member, or any specific category not just the family members.

Now that we covered the amnesia part, let's talk about the dissociative "fugue"

A dissociative "fugue" is actually pretty uncommon within this disorder but it's feeling a necessity to escape the situation that may cause extreme stress or embarrassment. These fugues, may not last long. Sometimes, they may just flee for a few hours and miss a few events but in more serious cases, the person would leave for a really long time, sometimes having to change their identity and start fresh.

After these periods of fugues, some people feel guilty, ashamed and even depressed. Mainly because they have no idea what they did during their fugue. You might question that, but it's true, They kind of blank out during these fugues.

The diagnosis criteria:

1) Patients cannot recall personal information due to trauma or stress related reasons. This does not qualify as a simple case of forgetfulness.

2) The symptoms cause the person stress and it impacts daily life

3) Symptoms do not classify as another other mental disorder (substance abuse, PTSD, etc)

You also may have to get blood work done, to rule out any other physical conditions.

Before I cover how it can get treated, I want to rule the causes.

1) Life circumstances

2) Genetics

Now, treatment.

1) To recover memory, the best options here would be having a great and supportive environment and putting them into a drug induced semi hypnotic state (a totally focused state, keeping attention on one thing only unless needed to have the attention switched.

2) Psychotherapy to help deal with the traumatic events

A lot of information right? yeah, I know.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Here we go, the next dissociative disorder. The classified definition is feeling possessed by different identities, this is also known as multiple personality disorder. Ever seen the movie Split? The movie where the main character has this disorder, and he kidnaps the girls? Yeah if you seen the movie, you can know how terrible this disorder really is and how scary it is deep down.


1) Time loss- feeling like time is going too slow, too fast or not knowing what time it is (forgetting time)

2) Out of body experiences

3) Acting out of your comfort zone- not being yourself, doing things you normally would not do. (Like let's say you never take risks, if you have this symptom then maybe you would start taking risks such as stealing)

4) Amnesia

5) Identity confusion- Confusion with what interests them in life such as who they are.

Everyone with this disorder has had different experiences of course, all of them being super terrifying from a viewers standpoint.

Let's rule some causes

1) Genetic (as always)

2) Environmental

3) Psychological

With this disorder, there are some complications along with your extra personalities.

1) Depression and Anxiety

2) Mood swings

3) Eating disorders

4) Sleep disorders

So many more complications that come along after this disorder, these are the most common complications for patients.

This disorder is actually very rare, there are fewer than 200,000 cases each year.

IT CANNOT BE CURED! Treatment can help decrease symptoms but once diagnosed, it doesn't go away.

Treatment: Like I said, it can't be cured but psychotherapy is a good choice for patients, it helps them deal with the stress from the symptoms. Also, hypnotherapy and adjunctive therapy is both helpful.

  • Hypnotherapy helps patients access old memories and control their behaviors
  • Adjunctive therapy helps connect some parts of the mind to cope with the trauma

Crazy right?

Depersonalization Derealization Disorder

This disorder is classified as repeatedly having out of body experiences. An out of body experience is hard to target an exact feeling, but from people who has had one some of the feelings are, feeling like you're floating outside of your body, you can see yourself from a levitated height and a sense that what is happening to you is very real, not fake but super real. It seems like a very scary feeling, but these out of body experiences usually don't last long and assumably happen for no reason, they just come out of nowhere.

You might be wondering, what causes these OBE, (out of body experiences). Let me tell you. Scientists has come down to a few specific causes.

1) Medical conditions such as migraines, depression, anxiety and epilepsy.

2) Stress or trauma- frightening/ dangerous experiences can provoke fear, which can cause you to dissociate yourself from the situation, causing you to outlook the situation.

3) Some drugs and medication- amnesia and hallucinative drugs such as LSD.

4) Having it be induced. Yes, OBE's can be induced, or can happen by accident with these few factors.

  • Brain stimulation
  • Electric shock
  • Dehydration or severe physical activity

There are some symptoms for depersonalization such as

1) These OBE's

2) Body distortion

3) Your memories lack emotion, or having the feeling that your memories aren't your own.

4) Numb to the senses and things around you.

The next pair of symptoms we have are the derealization symptoms

1) Feeling like your life is a movie

2) Feeling like you're disconnected from the world (feeling like you live In a bubble)

3) Time deceptions (feeling like you are repeating your past)

4) Your body is distorted once again

The causes for this disorder are unknown, but some of the causes may be

1) Genetic

2) Environmental

And like every mental disorder, the complications are

1) Anxiety and depressive disorders

2) Focusing lacks


1) Psychotherapy to help deal with the sypmtoms


That's all for the dissociative disorders! I hope you learned a little something reading this article. Let me know if you would like more of this content!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Cortney Crowell


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