The term “dissociation” can drum up quite a bit of fear in people. Many will immediately think of what we used to call “multiple personalities disorder” and respond: “Hey, I’m not crazy!” But in truth, we all dissociate from time to time.
So what exactly is dissociation? You might misplace your keys now and then or you might shut down in a heated argument with your partner, but how do we know if this is a disconnection from self? From time and space?
It turns out, the clues are in our moments of calm, rather than the stressful ones. Are we really experiencing calm? Or, are we just checking out, numbing up?
This week’s guest, Stacey Steinmiller, LCSW-R, specializes in dissociation and is here to clarify the meaning of dissociation with a high level of compassion and nonjudgment. She explains how dissociation starts as a useful coping mechanism to stress and trauma, when things start to go awry, how practicing both calm and pleasant emotions are the key to finding agency when confronted with negative emotions, and what EMDR’s got to do with it.
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