This article is from the Dissociation FAQ, by Discord (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
Dissociation is the state in which, on some level or another, one becomes
somewhat removed from "reality", whether this be daydreaming, performing
actions without being fully connected to their performance ("running on
automatic"), or other, more disconnected actions. It is the opposite of
"association" and involves the lack of association, usually of one's
identity, with the rest of the world.
A dissociative disorder would be one in which the degree of dissociation
(or the frequency of it) is such that one's functioning is somehow
impaired. The DSM-III-R defines a dissociative disorder, generally, as
one in which there "is a disturbance or alteration in the normally
integrative functions of idneity, memory, or consciousness. The
distrubance or alteration may be sudden or gradual, and transient or
It is important to note that a certain amount of dissociation is
considered completely normal; most (if not all) people experience
dissociation at least periodically in their life, and some mental health
workers consider dissociation to be a healthy defense mechanism, provided
the dissociation itself does not cause impairment of functioning.