Explanation of Dissociation
Dissociation is defined as a disruption in the usually integrative functions of consciousness, memory, identity and/or perception (DSM-IV-TR, page 519). Clinical research has consistently found that a high level of dissociation is significantly associated with major psychopathology. In some instances, this takes the form of a DSM-defined dissociative disorder. In other instances, the dissociation is associated with another DSM diagnosis such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Somatization Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder or Acute Stress Disorder. High levels of dissociation have also been repeatedly found to be associated with antecedent experiences of trauma and life-threatening experiences. It is important to screen for dissociation in psychiatric patients and traumatized individuals as the presence of a high level may inform clinical care as well as help to identify an unrecognized dissociative disorder which requires specialized treatment.