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Feeling Mentally Detached? This Could Be Why.

Trauma can lead to dissociation as a psychological response to overwhelming stress or distressing experiences. The mind, in an effort to protect itself, employs dissociation as a coping mechanism. 

Here's how trauma contributes to dissociation...

Survival Response

Dissociation is often an adaptive survival response to extreme stress or trauma. When faced with situations that surpass one's ability to cope, the mind may utilize dissociation to create a mental distance from the overwhelming emotions or experiences.

Overwhelming Nature of Trauma

Traumatic events can be emotionally and mentally overwhelming. The intensity of fear, helplessness, or horror experienced during trauma can surpass the mind's normal coping mechanisms, leading to dissociation as a way to compartmentalize or distance oneself from the traumatic content.

Protection from Emotional Pain  

Dissociation serves as a protective mechanism to shield individuals from the emotional pain associated with trauma. By disconnecting from their emotions or memories, individuals can temporarily avoid the distressing impact of the traumatic experience.

Fragmentation of Memory

Trauma can result in fragmented or disjointed memories. Dissociation may occur as a way for the mind to compartmentalize and store traumatic memories separately, preventing them from intruding into everyday consciousness.

Developmental Origins

Early childhood trauma, especially when it involves attachment figures or caregivers, can disrupt the development of a secure sense of self. Dissociation may arise as a way for a child to cope with the inconsistency or threat posed by caregivers.

Adaptation to Ongoing Threat

In cases of chronic or repeated trauma, such as ongoing abuse, dissociation can become a long-term adaptive strategy. It helps individuals navigate sustained periods of stress by providing a means to escape mentally from the ongoing threat.

Biological Response

Trauma triggers changes in the brain's neurobiological processes, influencing areas associated with memory, emotion regulation, and stress response. These alterations can contribute to the development and persistence of dissociative symptoms.

Understanding the relationship between trauma and dissociation is crucial for both individuals who have experienced trauma and mental health professionals. Recognizing dissociation as a coping mechanism emphasizes the importance of trauma-informed care, which involves addressing the underlying trauma while providing support and strategies for managing dissociative symptoms. Therapy, especially trauma-focused approaches, plays a significant role in helping individuals process and integrate traumatic experiences, reducing the need for dissociation as a coping mechanism over time.

Types of Dissociation

Dissociation manifests in various forms, and understanding that there are multiple types is crucial for recognizing and addressing its diverse expressions.


Derealization is a dissociative experience where an individual perceives the external world as unreal, distorted, or lacking in substance. It can make the surroundings appear dreamlike, fuzzy, or as if viewed through a haze. People experiencing derealization may feel detached from their environment, as if it is not genuine or is somehow altered. This dissociative phenomenon can be distressing and contribute to a sense of disconnection from reality.

Characteristics of Derealization

Altered Perception 

Objects, people, or the entire environment may seem distorted, leading to a perception of unreality.

Dreamlike Sensation  

Individuals may describe feeling as if they are living in a dream or watching events unfold in a surreal manner.

Loss of Emotional Connection

Emotional responses to the surroundings may be blunted, as derealization often involves a sense of emotional detachment.


Depersonalization is a dissociative experience characterized by feeling detached or disconnected from one's own body, thoughts, feelings, or identity. Individuals undergoing depersonalization may describe a sense of observing themselves from an external perspective, as if their thoughts and actions are not their own. This phenomenon often involves a persistent feeling of unreality concerning the self.

Characteristics of Depersonalization

Feeling Like an Observer

Individuals may express a sense of watching themselves or their actions from an external viewpoint.

Emotional Numbness

Emotional responses may be dulled or muted, leading to a feeling of being emotionally detached from one's own experiences.

Identity Distortion

A distorted sense of personal identity may occur, with individuals feeling as though they are not truly themselves.

Both derealization and depersonalization are phenomena within the spectrum of dissociative experiences. When these experiences become persistent, severe, or significantly impact daily functioning, seeking support from mental health professionals is advisable. Therapeutic interventions, including psychoeducation, grounding techniques, and trauma-focused therapies, can be beneficial in addressing and managing derealization and depersonalization. 

If you feel the need for support or a deeper understanding, think about reaching out for a therapy session with Sol Recovery by calling 575-556-4580 or going to

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