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Defining Dissociative Terms.

Defining Dissociative Terms: Scene One, Take One

Dissociative Identity ~ A multi-conscious mind (rather than a uni-conscious mind) developed through a neurodevelopmental dissociative disorder caused by early childhood trauma.

Alternate State of Consciousness within a Dissociative Identity referred to as "Alter" or "Part" ~

DSM5 full version - referring to personality states (criterion A)- Attitudes, outlooks, and personal preferences (e.g., about food, activities, dress) may suddenly shift and then shift back. Individuals may report that their bodies feel different (e.g., like a small child, like the opposite gender, huge and muscular). Alterations in sense of self and loss of personal agency may be accompanied by a feeling that these attitudes, emotions, and behaviors—even one's body—are "not mine" and/or are "not under my control." Although most Criterion A symptoms are subjective, many of these sudden discontinuities in speech, affect, and behavior can be witnessed by family, friends, or the clinician. Non-epileptic seizures and other conversion symptoms are prominent in some presentations of dissociative identity disorder, especially in some non-Westem settings.

Dissociative Trigger ~ When one has a dissociative identity & some form of stimuli triggers a dissociative switch (different from trauma-related trigger).

Ghost Flashback ~ When one has a dissociative identity & one part of consciousness experiences a trauma-related flashback without the other parts' full awareness of it, causing negative effects from the flashback without full access to the flashback itself.

Dissociative Memory ~ When one has a dissociative identity, the manner in which memories are processed & retrieved is different from "usual" ~

  • explains how memories can feel distorted (far away, dull, amplified/magnified, etc.)

  • explains process brain goes through to create new memories & explains why it's sometimes not possible to create new positive memories

  • explains the way dissociative amnesia is experienced

Dissociative Amnesia ~ Describes the particular form of amnesia associated with a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder.

DSM5 full version - description of amnesia in DID includes: The dissociative amnesia of individuals with dissociative identity disorder manifests in three primary ways: as 1) gaps in remote memory of personal life events (e.g., periods of childhood or adolescence; some important life events, such as the death of a grandparent, getting married, giving birth); 2) lapses in dependable memory (e.g., of what happened today, of well-leamed skills such as how to do their job, use a computer, read, drive); and 3) discovery of evidence of their everyday actions and tasks that they do not recollect doing (e.g., finding unexplained objects in their shopping bags or among their possessions; finding perplexing writings or drawings that they must have created; discovering injuries; "coming to" in the midst of doing something). Dissociative fugues, wherein the person discovers dissociated travel, are common. Thus, individuals with dissociative identity disorder may report that they have suddenly found themselves at the beach, at work, in a nightclub, or somewhere at home (e.g., in the closet, on a bed or sofa, in the corner) with no memory of how they came to be there. Amnesia in individuals with dissociative identity disorder is not limited to stressful or traumatic events; these individuals often cannot recall everyday events as well. Individuals with dissociative identity disorder vary in their awareness and attitude toward their amnesias. It is common for these individuals to minimize their amnestic symptoms. Some of their amnestic behaviors may be apparent to others—as when these persons do not recall something they were witnessed to have done or said, when they cannot remember their own name, or when they do not recognize their spouse, children, or close friends.

Dissociative Blackout ~ {With suggestions for how to word this definition, please email Kristin Windsor at, or find her on Instagram or Facebook @KristinChronicles.}

Dissociative Fugue ~ {With suggestions for how to word this definition, please email Kristin Windsor at, or find her on Instagram or Facebook @KristinChronicles.}

Dissociative Self-Harm ~ can happen during a dissociative blackout ~ when another alter (carrying trauma) comes out & self-harms but, because there's limited co-consciousness, there is later no memory of that self-harm (according to other alters). {Will reword later.}

{This is just a start! Hoping to add to this! Please email me with any suggestions!


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