Understanding Dissociation: Navigating the Depths of Detachment

Christine Hogg


Christine has been counselling and working as a psychotherapist in London for nearly 20 years . She had a legal and business background before qualifying as a psychotherapist.
In her work she uses an integrative approach which means she uses a number of approaches depending on what is suited to the individual client. She works predominantly in the' here and now' to help work out and resolve issues for clients.

For more information or to book a session, contact her with details at the bottom on this page.


Understanding Dissociation

Many people experience dissociation and suffer from dissociative symptoms when they become anxious or overwhelmed. This experience could be anything from zoning out when overwhelmed to more extreme feelings of feeling separated from their own body and surroundings, or feeling they have different parts within them.

Symptoms vary among individuals, leading to diagnoses such as depersonalization (feeling detached from oneself), derealization (perceiving surroundings as unreal or blurry), and Dissociative Identity Disorder (this is where the mind splits off feelings or personality traits, characteristics and memories into separate compartments that then develop into unique personality states where one or other state might be dominant at one time. This can create confusion about one’s sense of identity)

1. Dissociation - Accompanying Symptoms

The above symptoms can be accompanied by feelings of being in dream- like state; feelings of surroundings being an intrusion; experiencing amnesia; numbness and depression.

Dissociative disorders can also overlap with other diagnoses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

2. Causes of Dissociation

Dissociative symptoms have in all likelihood been developed as a coping mechanism for extreme anxiety or stress that a person has experienced. This may be in as a result of a specific trauma that has occurred or could have been developed as a way of coping with anxiety or stress that was experienced in childhood. Whatever the cause or diagnosis, living with the symptoms of dissociation is a distressing experience.

3.Treatment Options

There are many specific treatments which can help with dissociative symptoms. Talking therapy is the most recommended of these. Often people feel uncomfortable and embarrassed living with symptoms that are difficult to understand and are often misunderstood by others.

Counselling and Psychotherapy can help people to understand what they are experiencing with their symptoms and the possible triggers for dissociation. It is an opportunity to learn how to manage anxiety and so move away from the place of fear. In therapy clients can develop practical ways which work to manage life better on daily basis. This might include grounding exercises which help with symptoms as well as developing life style activities to provide a much needed anchor at times when client are confused and anxious.

It is of course important to engage with a practitioner who makes the individual feel safe, who understands dissociation and has experience working with the symptoms.

4. Specialized Services for Support

Seeking help from specialized services can also be instrumental.

Clinic for Dissociative Studies (clinicds.co.uk, 020 7794 1655) is a dedicated resource providing expertise in dissociative disorders. Additionally,  South London and Maudsley Trauma and Dissociation Service (https://slam.nhs.uk, 020 3228 2969) offers comprehensive support for trauma-related conditions.


For more information or to book a session, contact Christine at www.pimlicocounsellors.co.uk/directory/christine-hogg


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