Editor's Note: This article discusses reactions to trauma and may be triggering for some readers.
I call it my "tell."
Sometimes when I am talking to a client with a history of trauma, I feel lightheaded or dizzy. It took me awhle to figure out why. I's usually a sign that the person I'm sitting across from is experiencing dissociation. It's a useful tool because dissociation can be difficult to see from the outside. Many people who experience it never knew it has a name.
Traumatic dissociation is hard to see and hard to describe. Beneath its quietness lies a rich world that provides vital information about a person's traumatic experience, an experience survivors live in every day. I developed this series to shine a light on one of trauma survivors' more mysterious struggles.
In this series, I will include a number of articles covering different topics related to dissociation. In my first, I discuss the problems with defining and explaining dissociation. I also offer up my own term and definition for the experience. Next, I begin a discussion of how dissociation frequently can be misunderstood by others and why it is important to learn more about it. I then focus on psychological diagnoses given to people with traumatic dissociation.
I look forward to covering many topics. To help surivivors understand their experience, I plan to discuss The Language of Dissociation. The language of dissociation includes ideas such as the Window of Tolerance, Bii-phasic response, the Polyvagal Theory, Parts, Alterations of Consciousness and Emotional Hijacking, I also hope to cover Shame and Dissociation, The Pathways of Dissociation, Dissociation from TheSurvivor's Perspective, The Biology of Dissociation, and Relational Trauma and Dissociation.
Information is wonderful, but at some point, I'm usually asked the question, "so what can I do about that?" That is why I am also looking forward to discussing tools and treatment for dissociation.
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© Nancy B. Sherrod, PhD