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Myths & Facts of Dissociative Disorder

In certain Southeast Asian cultures, individuals who are experiencing “trance” tend to be regarded as “special” and can “help others” while at the same time enjoying monetary donations, despite their “social calling.”

For someone who was trained in Western ways of thinking, the notion of such giftedness is a bit too much to chew.

In the study of psychology, an individual who seems to be separated from his or her original self is experiencing memory disconnection between past, present and future. When they are experiencing a major disruption of memory, they are experiencing “dissociation” or “separation” from the rest of their personality, which is basically an accumulation of memories connected from the day we were born.

Depending on the type of memories being disconnected, dissociative disorders known to date according to DSM-IV-TR are: dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, and depersonalization disorder.

Dissociative amnesia occurs when an individual experiences periods of forgetfulness, particularly on events that were traumatic and painful, which can be selective, temporary, or generalized.

Dissociative fugue is experienced when an individual forgets the existing identity, travels to a distant place, and may even adopt a new identity completely separated from the previous one. According to Ronald J. Comer in Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology, 0.2 percent of population experiences dissociative fugue. This type of dissociation may occur for hours, days, weeks, or months with sudden “awakening.”

Dissociative personality disorder is also known as “multiple personality disorder.” It is experienced by individuals with two or more separate personalities. Each personality has his or her own sets of memories, feelings, characteristics, behaviors and thought processes. Trance is the “switching process” from one personality to another. When the “switch” is done, most likely the personality is completely different.

In certain cultures, those experience trance regularly, are also considered “mediums” for the departed, thus people like to ask them questions as if they were “from the past” and “knowing-all” entities.

The interesting thing with such “trance” phenomenon is: it can be experienced simultaneously within a group of people.  When it occurs, it becomes a social phenomenon and a similar socio-economic pattern can be observed: repressive environment. According to psychodynamic perspective, when our survival mechanism, which suppresses unpleasant experiences, is excessively used, we tend to sweep them out into another “garbage can,” which is the other subpersonality. Thus, when a group of people experience “trance” at the same time, it is a strong indicator of social repression in the environment.

Another perspective that can be used to analyze dissociative personality disorder is behavioral view, in which a behavior is a learned response through “conditioning.” When an individual forgets something, what does he or she learn? Does he or she feel better afterward? If it does make him or her feel better, it is a reinforcing conditioning factor? Self-hypnosis may also be a factor, which may have started during childhood, in an age that children go in and out of state of hypnosis.

The mind is a mysterious and powerful territory. Human beings haven’t tapped into its entirety and we’ll keep being fascinated by how human minds work. In advanced societies, science is the preferred path for explanations of any “mystery.”

In the land where time stands still, all kinds of ghostlings often become the “answer” to a “mystery.”

Myths & Facts of Dissociative Disorder

Jennie S. Bev, MS

Jennie S. Bev is a trainer, author, columnist, and adjunct professor whose research interests include Positive Psychology and Constructivist Learning Theory. She is a multi-disciplinarian, holds an MS in Education from California State University Hayward (East Bay), and is currently pursuing a PsyD with California Southern University. She is the author of Kindle ebook Success with Positive Psychology. Her other works are archived on You can add her on Facebook and Twitter at @jenniesbevcom.

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APA Reference
S. Bev, J. (2019). Myths & Facts of Dissociative Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 May 2019
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