Mentalconditions are common in the modern world and they can affect allpeople, irrespective of their age. Dissociative disorders are moreprevalent among children and adults who were abused sexually,emotionally, or sexually during their early stages of development.Studies conducted in the last two centuries have focused on theidentification of the key symptoms that needs to be considered whendiagnosing dissociative disorders and effective therapeuticstrategies. The findings of the available research projects indicatethat the occurrence of this category of mental conditions can beattributed to mistreatments experienced during childhood. Thesedisorders are characterized by the development of a blurred identity,depression, loss of memory, anxiety, and tendency to detach from thereality. Some of the most common types of dissociative disorders thathave been discovered include amnesia, fugue, depersonalization, andDID. Effective prevention strategies should include the management ofthe negative impacts of trauma at early stages. This approach ensuresthat the mental issues do not develop into dissociative conditions.The affected people should get the help of professionals and joinsocial support groups in order to learn from individuals with similarissues.
Keywords:Blurred identity, dissociative disorder, depersonalization, talktherapy.
Mentaldisorders are quite common in the society. They affect all people,but there are instances when their prevalence is higher in certaingroups compared to others. The dissociative disorders are among themost common types of psychological conditions reported in the healthcare facilities. Their prevalence rate across groups is about 10 %(Shah, 2012). The disorder was given its name by a Frenchpsychiatrist, Pierre Janet, who developed a theory explaining thatthe illness results from the splitting of various mental processes.This division leads to compartmentalization of one’s personalityinto separate segments that are inaccessible to each other (Shah,2012). In this paper, different aspects (including the history,causes, symptoms, various types, prevention, treatment, tips forovercoming the condition, parenting skills, and evidence-basedtherapies) of dissociative disorders will be discussed.
TheDSM-5 edition provides the criteria for diagnosing the dissociativedisorder. First, at least two distinct identities should be present.Each of the personality states should have its own enduring patters.Secondly, amnesia should occur and affect the memory related totrauma and everyday events (Friedman, 2014). Third, the patientsshould show signs of being distressed or trouble functioning in majorareas of life. Fourth, the kind of disturbance reported by theaffected persons should not be part of their normal practices. In thelast criterion, the symptoms of dissociative disorder should not bedirectly associated with impacts of drug abuse.
Thedissociative disorders were identified more than two centuries ago.Although the first case was reported in 1791 in Germany, researchersstarted paying attention to these kinds of illnesses in the latenineteenth century. It is estimated that about 67 % of all cases ofthe disorders had been reported in the health care facilities by 1944(North, 2015). Most of the symptoms and impacts of the illnesses werediscovered in the research projects that were carried out in thetwentieth century. The findings of most of these studies helped thestakeholders in the health care sector to provide an alternativeexplanation of the occurrence of the disorders. Initially, differentcommunities associated them with the possession of spirits. The focusof the researchers on the dissociative disorders shifted to differentconditions towards the end of the first half of the 20thcentury, following the discovery of other psychological illnesses,such as schizophrenia (Shah, 2012). Important theorists (includingFreud) coined the concept of hysterical conversion in an attempt todescribe the symptoms and causes of the disease.
Themain focus of the researchers in the second half of the 20thcentury was the identification of accurate methods of diagnosing andtreating dissociative disorders. These efforts resulted in thedevelopment of DSM-II in the year 1968, DSM-III in 1980, DSM-IV in1994, and DSM-V in the late 1990s (Shah, 2012). The frequent changein the criteria for diagnosing the dissociative disorder can beexplained by the continued discovery of new symptoms that needed tobe considered.
Traumais the major cause of the dissociative disorders. Studies have shownthat these types of illness are highly prevalent among individualswho suffered from long-term physical, emotional, and sexual abuseduring their childhood (Rofem & Rofe, 2013). Dissociativedisorders are also common in the population of people who grew up infamilies that are characterized by unpredictable and frighteningenvironment. The occurrence of stressors (such as an experience ofwar or natural disasters) leads to their development among theaforementioned vulnerable groups. The disorder has also been observedin the population of children suffering from extreme neglect, even ifthey have never experienced any form of physical or sexual harassment(Rofem & Rofe, 2013). It is common among children because theyare more likely to step outside of themselves and think that theirtraumas are affecting other people. Traumatic experiences alsodisrupt the process of personality development, which increasesdividedness in emotional and mental areas. Continuous social as wellas emotional deprivation reduces the chances for recovery.Eventually, dissociation becomes a trauma management mechanism thatis used by the affected children throughout their lives.
Thehealth care providers use a set of symptoms to diagnose thedissociative disorders. Some of the key signs include a blurred senseof one’s identity, loss of memory, mental issues (such as anxietyand depression), and a perception that people as well as thingsaround an individual are distorted (Burkhard, 2016). In addition, theaffected people tend to experience significant problems in theirrelationships in all areas of life. They also detach themselves,which is confirmed by the way they reason and talk. However, the keysymptoms may vary depending on the type of dissociative disorder thatis being considered.
Therefour major illnesses that are classified as dissociative disorders.Each of them has a unique set of symptoms that are used todistinguish it from others. The first one is dissociative amnesia andit is associated with blocking out of vital personal data, especiallythe one that is stressful in nature (Burkhard, 2016). The localizedloss of memory is quite common and it occurs when the affected peopleforget the events that caused their trauma.
Secondly,dissociative fugue is associated with the tendency of patients toleave their physical environments suddenly and embark on a journeythat may last for several hours or weeks. During this trip, theaffected people become unaware of their own identities and some ofthem assume new ones (Moeglin & Sentissi, 2014). The occurrenceof the journey represents the tendency to dissociate from thereality.
Thethird type is referred to as dissociative identity disorder. Thiskind of illness is characterized by the development of differentkinds of personalities (Moeglin & Sentissi, 2014). The distinctidentities take place on a recurring basis. The disorder is alsocharacterized by differences in the patient’s memory, which occursdepending on the prevailing personality.
Fourth,depersonalization disorder is associated with the development of afeeling of detachment from one’s personal experiences and the body.This kind of illness is easier to identify or diagnose compared toothers. Intoxicated patients lose control of their movements andactions (Moeglin & Sentissi, 2014). The disorder interrupts thefunctioning as well as the experiences that patients go through. Insevere cases, the affected persons tend to believe that the externalworld is distorted or unreal.
Thefact that children who have been exposed to traumatizing events (suchas sexual abuse) are at a high risk of suffering from thedissociative disorder implies that some measures can be taken inadvance to prevent the mental conditions. The prevention of thesetypes of illnesses can be achieved in two ways. First, people whohave suffered from the aforementioned types of abuse are advised toseek for help from professionals, such as counselors or psychiatristsin advance (Rofem & Rofe, 2013). This measure is recommendedbecause it reduces the risk of the affected persons trying todissociate themselves with the reality in an attempt to cope with thenegative experiences. Secondly, victims of violence can join socialsupport groups. This measure provides individuals with theopportunity to gain the courage that they need in order to cope withthe psychological trauma from people who have gone through similarexperiences. The social support groups reduce the probability ofstress developing into dissociative disorders.
Dissociativedisorders are treated using psychotherapeutic strategies andmedication. The administration of pharmaceutical drugs is consideredas the short-term way of addressing these mental conditions. There isare specific medication options for these types of illness, but thehealth care professionals can administer anti-anxiety, antipsychotic,and antidepressants in order to stabilize the condition as thelong-term therapies are administered (Moeglin & Sentissi, 2014).Some of the key examples of long-term measures that the health careprofessionals rely on to address the illness include counseling, talktherapies, and psychosocial approaches (Moeglin & Sentissi,2014). These measures focus on the empowerment of patients by helpingthem to understand the causes of their sickness and how to developthe coping skills.
Suggestionsfor Overcoming the Dissociative Disorder
Althoughpsychotherapy and medication can address the dissociative disorderssuccessfully, there are several tips that patients need to understandin order to overcome the illness effectively and within the shortesttime possible. For example, the affected persons can cope with thecondition by practicing acceptance. Dissociation disorders occur whenindividuals refuse to acknowledge the real events and experiencesthat resulted in their trauma (Burkhard, 2016). Therefore, acceptancecan serve as the first step towards the healing process. In addition,allowing the flashbacks to take their course can facilitate a quickrecovery. This tip can ensure that memories of the past events aredrained from the patients’ subconscious, which helps them toovercome the challenge of dissociation. Moreover, the affectedpersons can do exercises that engage their minds. For example, yogaand lifting of weights can help the victims of dissociative disordersto deal with the subconscious memories and accept the realities.
Thedissociative disorders can affect parents or their children. In bothcases, kids need competent caregivers in order to achieve a balancedgrowth. The affected parents should seek the advice of psychiatristsand counselors who will guide them from one step to another. Theyneed to let their children know the experiences that they are goingthrough. In addition, parents should facilitate effectivecommunication between professionals and all family members. In otherwords, the process of resolving the symptoms of dissociativedisorders should be inclusive (Rofem & Rofe, 2013). By engagingthe close relatives, parents will be able to solicit support fromwithin the family settings.
Theevidence-base therapies are the treatment strategies whoseeffectiveness has been confirmed through scientific studies. Theavailable empirical research findings indicate that talk therapiesare the most effective strategies for addressing all types ofdissociative disorders. Behavioral approaches help patients avoidconducts and thinking patterns that lead to self destruction (Rofem &Rofe, 2013). It has also been shown that psychodynamic strategiesenable the affected persons to overcome repression and minimize theimpact of childhood traumas. However, the effectiveness of thesepsychological strategies is achieved when they are used incombination with proper medication.
Dissociativedisorders form a group of some of the most common types of mentalconditions that affect people who have suffered from traumaticincidents in the past. They were given this name because patients whocontract them at one point in their lives tend to dissociatethemselves with the real world. They find it difficult to accept thefact that the traumatizing events happened to them. The highprevalence of these conditions among children is attributed to thefact the ability of kids to process information and adopt thenecessary coping skills is quite limited compared to adults. However,people in the advanced levels of human development, especially thosewho were abused during childhood, can also be affected. The disorderis more prevalent among people who underwent sexual, physical, oremotional harassment during the early phases of life. Therefore, itcan be concluded that trauma is the major cause of the dissociativeconditions. A blurred sense of identity is the most common symptomthat is used to diagnose these types of mental illness. Dissociativedisorders that are highly prevalent in the modern world includeamnesia, fugue, DID, and depersonalization condition. They can beprevented through effective management of the stress and disordersthat result from various kinds of childhood harassment before theydevelop into complicated psychological issues.
Dissociativedisorders are mental conditions that occur when one’s personalityis divided into different segments that are inaccessible to eachother. These mental conditions are characterized by the developmentof a blurred identity, depression, loss of memory, anxiety, andtendency to detach from the reality. They have existed in the entirehuman history, but they attracted the attention of researchers in thelate eighteenth century.
Thepsychological illnesses are mainly caused by trauma that results fromshocking events. This assertion is confirmed by the fact that thesemental conditions are more prevalent among people who were abusedsexually, emotionally, or physically during their early stages ofdevelopment. Some of the key symptoms used to diagnose dissociativedisorders include blurred sense of one’s identity, loss of memory,mental issues (such as anxiety and depression), and a perception thatpeople as well as things around an individual are distorted.
Disordersin this category include dissociative amnesia, fugue, DID, anddepersonalization. Their occurrence can be prevented througheffective management of trauma. However, this can be achieved whenpatients get the help of professionals (such as counselors andpsychiatrists) before the depression as well as stress that resultsfrom the shocking events develop into serious mental conditions. Aneffective treatment plan should include a combination of medicationand psychotherapy. The two approaches provide long-term andshort-term solutions. In addition, people can overcome thedissociative disorders by practicing acceptance and taking part inexercises that engage their mind.
Parentscan increase their ability to deal with the dissociative disorders byengaging other family members. Effective communication skills canalso ensure that all relatives understand what one of their loved oneis experiencing. Some of the key evidence-based treatment options fordissociative disorders include the behavioral approaches (such asCBT) and psychodynamic strategies.
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