All of us have times when we feel 'disconnected'. It could be that we are having a conversation with someone but our mind is elsewhere, or we arrive at a destination with no recollection of driving there. For most of us, these moments are occasional lapses that bear no impact on our daily lives. For others however, disconnecting from reality becomes a defence mechanism.
When this happens, being disconnected can quickly turn into dissociation - a symptom of mental illness. If left untreated, this can in turn evolve into a dissociative disorder. On this page we will look at various effects of dissociation including the various disorders associated, such as dissociative identity disorder (previously referred to as multiple personality disorder).
The way we perceive the world around us is what determines our reality. Our thoughts, feelings and memories all contribute to help us know who we are and what is real. When these perceptions disconnect, our sense of reality and identity becomes blurred. If you are experiencing dissociation, you may look at yourself as if you are a stranger - unsure of who the person looking back at you in the mirror is, or indeed what is real. There are several mental health problems that can cause dissociative symptoms including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.
For some people though, dissociation is a form of extreme escapism. Escaping reality in a way that is involuntary and potentially unhealthy, someone with a dissociative disorder may create alternative identities or suffer from amnesia.