Can dissociation happen when boundaries are crossed but fear doesn't seem to be involved?

beaneeboo

Confident
I apologise if I come across as someone who shouldn't be on here. I'm new.

I experience periods of my legs feeling like the are full of lead. If I am In a situation where I feel threatened by the content of conversation - e.g major shame- I can freeze completely not look up and not be able to speak. I have to shake myself out of it by trying to get up or move around in some way...

I can have episodes of feeling detached from my surroundings... auditory senses seem to be triggered first - the sounds don't match up with the person I'm talking to (for some reason this happens alot when I'm talking with my mum). Then the lines and contours of objects and people in the room start going fuzzy and moving. I see things in 2 D and like I'm not really physically present...I go very quickly into this state and it can be scary... but it's been happening so many years I know nothing awful will actually happen... it's just exhausting and unpleasant...

Sometimes I've stayed in the state to see where it takes me but usual it just leads to compete overwhelm and parts of my body begin to feel completely inflated ... too large to handle...I don't have words for it...

So in terms of trauma- I've just posted on the childhood forum for anyone who is interested- i experienced child on child sexual trauma.. for i think around over 1 year... the thing is, as far as my memories go, I don't remember there being any fear involved... although major boundaries were crossed (I knew how to orgasm aged 9 and was made to engage in a number of adult sexual acts)...

Other traumas in my life? Nothing overtly obvious which I can see as being directly related to derealisation....depersonalisation...dissocation (all of which I've lived with since my teens as far as I can remember)... but my parents did split ... my father (who I saw every 2 weeks) was emotionally abusive and bad with boundaries... he was explosive and my sister maintains he was physically abusive to her / my brother all of which I would have been around...

None of these seem like reasons to experience the issues (dissociation) which I have experienced and do experience.

I'm now wondering - could the child on child sa experience i had cause these types of issues even though the trauma wasn't violent?
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
hello beeneeboo. welcome to the forum.

in my personal herstory, dissociation can happen without apparent cause and/or physical causes. forgetting to eat or hydrate can cause me to dissociate. when i dissociate from psychotic causes, i typically lack the awareness to notice that i have dissociated. i'm too lost in the psychic fog to notice much of anything in the here and now.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I'm now wondering - could the child on child sa experience i had cause these types of issues even though the trauma wasn't violent?
Absolutely.
Sexual abuse is violent. I suppose it depends on what you see as violent. But it is a trauma on the body, in the body. Whether there was a punch or a shove or a holding down or whatever, those are ohsycially violent acts that may or may not happen with sexual violence.
But you also don't need 'violence' (whatever definition) to have disassociation. Disassociation is a response to trauma. A way to cope.
I didn't have fear either, or I think I didn't because I was clearly disassociated. As far as I was concerned I also didn't have sexual abuse or rape, because I decided it didn't happen. But it all did.
So yes, absolutely you can have these symptoms because of what happened to you. What happened to you was enough, more than enough, to have these responses.
 

beaneeboo

Confident
Absolutely.
Sexual abuse is violent. I suppose it depends on what you see as violent. But it is a trauma on the body, in the body. Whether there was a punch or a shove or a holding down or whatever, those are ohsycially violent acts that may or may not happen with sexual violence.
But you also don't need 'violence' (whatever definition) to have disassociation. Disassociation is a response to trauma. A way to cope.
I didn't have fear either, or I think I didn't because I was clearly disassociated. As far as I was concerned I also didn't have sexual abuse or rape, because I decided it didn't happen. But it all did.
So yes, absolutely you can have these symptoms because of what happened to you. What happened to you was enough, more than enough, to have these responses.
Thanks for your thoughts. This is news to me... that dissociation can happen in response to situations which aren't violent...or perceived as violent....or where fear doesn't seem to have been a dominant factor

I've based my whole understanding of MY trauma in the past as to whether it' was violent enough or not...and as i didn't think it was, i haven't taken it seriously as trauma... so haven't really matched up my problems with dissociation with my past experiences

Kind of surprised that it could be considered otherwise from the outside...

@ beeneeboo...When my aniexty gets really high. I get that feeling like l'm in a dream or not in my body. This happens to me sometimes when l'm not in danger. I feel it's how my body reacts when the aniexty builds up too much.
Thanks Loveann.... yes this happens to me too... out of Interest, how do you manage that?

I think my original post was more in relation to whether dissociation could develop originally from trauma where there was no or little perceived fear or not . But yes I agree..I can be completely safe and go into a dissociative state even if I'm just tired...

hello beeneeboo. welcome to the forum.

in my personal herstory, dissociation can happen without apparent cause and/or physical causes. forgetting to eat or hydrate can cause me to dissociate. when i dissociate from psychotic causes, i typically lack the awareness to notice that i have dissociated. i'm too lost in the psychic fog to notice much of anything in the here and now.
Thank you arfie for sharing your own experience..... I hope you've managed to find strategies to help you...
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
I was dissociating long before I understood what it was, that "everyone" didn't do it, and that it was caused by violence in my past. It just seemed like the norm -- get overwhelmed by good or bad or anything in between and poof! I didn't even realize I was doing it until a few years ago. So ya, it can be caused by a LOT of different things that often don't make sense.
 

beaneeboo

Confident
I was dissociating long before I understood what it was, that "everyone" didn't do it, and that it was caused by violence in my past. It just seemed like the norm -- get overwhelmed by good or bad or anything in between and poof! I didn't even realize I was doing it until a few years ago. So ya, it can be caused by a LOT of different things that often don't make sense.
Thanks Freida... helps to know this... sorry that you know it all too well... sending strength..
 

Friday

Moderator
None of these seem like reasons to experience the issues (dissociation) which I have experienced and do experience.

Not experiencing disassociation would mean you’ve got a pretty hefty disorder on board… as disassociation is a spectrum, where most of it is not only normal, but necessary.

Three of the most common examples of normal disassociation are ‘driving on autopilot, or ‘time flies when you’re having fun!’, and ‘professional distance’.

But?

Two of the most foundational aspects you’re experiencing right this very minute;

- As 106 people have just died, this very minute, and you’re not reacting to that the way you would if someone you loved just died -even a pet- nor even to the degree you’d react to a stranger if they died right in front of you.

- AND you’re actually reading these words rather than throwing a screaming tantrum from being bombarded by all the sensory input your brain is currently processing in the background and dismissing as not needing your attention IE the perfect amount of disassociation to be able to concentrate on what you’re doing, without so much that you’re just staring at the screen and blinking, wihout being able to read. (Well, probably. Brain Fog & losing the ability to read are common aspects of disassociation turned on too hard, and is super common with trauma, tiredness, and being sick.)

So! Back on target…

Disassociation is a spectrum, most of which is so totally normal we actually NEED it… AND …There are common causes of too much disassociation (like being sick, or tired), and too little (oh. my. god. Will this booooring class never end?!? I’m off work in 10 minutes! (Feels like 2 hours later?) I’m off work in faaaaaawk 8 and a half minutes. >.< Boil you stupid pot of water! Boil! If that stupid faucet doesn’t stop dripping I’m going to rip the sink out of the wall and toss it out the window! Grrrrr ).

1. No one needs a trauma history (much less a disorder with a pathological level of disassociation or lack there of) to dissociate; nor the opposite lack of disassociation that leads people to counting the seconds and still having them drag like eons.

2. There are several dozen disorders & medical conditions that have (pathological) disassociation as a symptom, and a handful of disorders where disassociation is the core component. (Ditto the reverse, where people are overly aware/stimulated). No trauma history, nor PTSD, required.
=
3. What you experienced may NOT be the reason you’re struggling with disassociation. You may have another disorder or condition causing dissociative issues (depression, hypothymia, anxiety, sleep dep, pregnancy or other hormonal condition, an eating disorder or malnutrition, post-Covid neurological symptoms, post concussive or current head trauma, anemia… really, the list is several dozen items long… but we’re gonna stop at that tip of the iceberg 😉
Or? Out of that grab bag of medical & psychological conditions… you might have disassociation from PTSD.

There’s no real way for anyone to know what’s causing what, until you have a doctor rule out physiological causes, and then be tested to find what -if any- psych conditions you may have.

Fair warning, in psych, there are often BOTH physical & psychological contributors. As one’s asthma, hormone imbalance, lack of sleep, etc. will make their psych symptoms worse. So it just makes more sense to easy button the med stuff, so you don’t waste years attempting to “treat” a thyroid condition or asthma as if it were a psych condition, instead of a medical one. That way? Meds treat meds, psych treats psych.

I apologise if I come across as someone who shouldn't be on here. I'm new.
This site has never been restricted solely to those who know they have PTSD. In addition to supporters (friends/family/lovers/employers), we also welcome people who are learning about PTSD, for any reason (undiagnosed: they suspect they may have it, or have been told they have it and disagree; as well as “other” students, teachers, therapists, press, those curious personally, academically, or professionally.

Unlike sites/orgs like NAMI which focus on the ENTIRETY of mental health, our focus is extremely narrowed to a single disorder. That’s the wealth of the experience of our membership. Many of us also happen to be co-morbid (ADHD!!! Woot! 😎 <mumble>Anorexia<mumble>) but that’s no different to a cancer forum also having people with other issues on board they’re working to deal with in relation to their cancer. As the primary issue effects every other issue.

For more on how this community functions? Check out Community Constitution
 

beaneeboo

Confident
Thanks for that Friday- helps to know...

I'm always searching for links and black and white answers to things because I have quite a fractured memory and past and therefore a poor sense of my whole self... I think I'm trying to ask questions here that actually have no objective final answer ... should know better than that really... I have lots of memory gaps so I'm one of those people constantly trying to find links... to build a picture of where I have come from...

I'm supposed to have DDNOS (as it was formally known) but I'm not sure i agree with it as a diagnosis... I have a trauma history but I never feel like it qualifies a) as trauma or b) to cause ddnos... but I've steered away from caring about those questions now...

I'm more interested in where the actual mechanism of the dissociation (particularly derealisation) stems from... your answer kind of confirms that I'll not be able to answer that objectively
 
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