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Dissociative Disorders

A dissociative disorder is a break from the normal psychological functioning of a person.It is usually brought on by a traumatic event, but this is not always the case.A dissociative disorder is the mind’s way of handling events or experiences that are too much to process or deal with while they are occurring.It allows the victim to become distant from the trauma and survive the experience.Dissociation is, therefore, a survival mechanism of the brain.

A dissociative disorder is usually the result of some form of trauma or abuse .The mind creates an alternative state of consciousness to keep the patient from remembering the traumatic experiences.When the patient returns from the dissociative break they have no memory of the experiences that occurred during the break.Psychiatry believes that those memories are present in the mind, but locked away to protect the patient from more trauma.

Dissociation also occurs to patients who are drug addictedDrug treatment facilities have worked with patients who are experiencing psychological damage due to their drug use including dissociative disorders.

Patients who are suffering from dissociative disorder will have to meet certain criteria to be officially diagnosed with the disorder.The patient must have one or more than one episode where there is an inability to remember information that is particularly traumatic or stressful. The memory loss is much more extensive than typical memory loss.These symptoms also will cause a significant impairment in the patient’s social and occupational life.

What can make the disorder difficult to diagnose or discover is patients who are unconcerned with their memory loss or are unaware that they have significant lapses in memory about their own personal life.Only when a life history is taken do the gaps in memory become apparent.

Other patients have a sudden and abrupt break in their ability to recall any information about their personal life.A traumatic experience can have the ability to wipe out all memory of who the patient is and how they have reached their stage in life.This can be much more easily traced to a traumatic experience than the other type of dissociative disorder.

Dissociative disorder can be difficult to diagnose and is often mistaken for other mental disorders such as depersonalization disorder where a patient feels as though they are outside of themselves.Dissociative identity disorder was once called multiple personality disorder and it is very uncommon.Those who are suffering from the disorder often have no idea that they have distinct separate personalities living within their own mind.There have been cases of patients who have lived entire lives with a separate and unique personality.Of course, the landmark case of Sybil describes a woman who lived with sixteen separate personalities in her mind.Each one of these personalities served a purpose in the protection of Sybil from the horrendous abuse that she suffered at the hands of her mother.There has been some question in recent years whether the diagnosis of multiple personality was correct.There is agreement that a dissociative disorder was present in this patient, though.

Treatment for dissociative disorders usually involves recovering the lost memories.It is important that the patient remain under psychiatric care while these memories are brought to the forefront.Patients who are suffering from dissociative disorders are protected from the trauma of these memories and can become suicidal when they are eventually recovered during treatment. A drug treatment facility can also help to recover lost memories or help the patient overcome their drug addiction that is responsible for the memory loss.

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