This article is from the Dissociation FAQ, by Discord (firstname.lastname@example.org) with numerous contributions by others.
You will find that many people have many different views on what
consitutes dissociation, who does it, and whether or not the simple
existence of dissociative processes in a person constitute a problem (or
when they do).
However, this is my own personal viewpoint, with some input from others
that helped me shape this section.
Consciously or not, temporarily or not, dissociation is a process in
which you assume a role or roles that are markedly different from the one
you might usually have. This includes a wide spectrum of things.
An example of an every-day dissociative process would be, perhaps not
surprisingly, actors. Actors often immerse themselves in their roles, and
while they are on stage are actually the person they are portraying.
Joe Smith, Actor.
Joe Smith is portraying Hamlet on stage, and the play is in progress.
During this time, he is no longer Joe Smith, the actor, but instead
_becomes_ Hamlet. He is thinking what Hamlet would think, saying what
Hamlet would say, using his speech patterns, his body language, his
belief system, his views of the world. For a short period of time at
he, they _is_ Hamlet. After the play is through, he becomes Joe Smith,
actor, again. Possibly when he goes home, he becomes Joe Smith, private
person who is little if anything like "Joe Smith, actor."
While he is on stage/being Hamlet, he is using dissociation to keep Joe
Smith's thoughts, body language, etc. out of the way. He has become
Hamlet to give a truer representation of Hamlet.
Likewise, the simple act of daydreaming could be considered a form,
albeit a very minor one, of dissociation.
Most people probably dissociate to some degree or another hundreds of
times during their life. And most of those would not be reading this
So let us focus a bit more on the type of dissociative states I expect
people reading this newsgroup would have.
There are, as talked about elsewhere, multiples. Multiples are people
who have dissociated fairly extremely (although there is, of course, a
wide variance with multiples). There are people who dissociate just
enough to be able to deal with wildly different situations in a smoother
way. There are people who use dissociation as a tool, deliberately
inducing in themselves a dissociative state (possibly to the point of
multiplicity) so that they can perform in a way that their usual state of
being might not allow.
A good example of this might be people who are psychic or who perform
acts of magick. [Note to skeptics: Feel free to be skeptical. Maybe they
aren't actually performing feats of psionics or magick, but they _think_
they are, and this is the tool they use.]
In any event, sometimes the dissociation can lead to problems. What
happens if you create this dissociative process and it begins interfering
with your usual state, or with other dissociative processes you created.
What happens if this dissociation _becomes_ your "usual state"? What
happens if you no longer _have_ a "usual state"?
I'd say that means you have a problem.