Do you close your eyes during dissociative episodes?


When i am going through what I believe is dissociation or dissociative episodes in therapy session, I most often close my eyes and continue to speak with my eyes closed. In those moments sometimes I kind of “switch” my voice to a child like voice or child like mannerisms etc. this happens a lot lot of I try to talk about any traumatic events. Especially any mention of flashbacks of csa. I can only partially talk about them if my eyes are closed and I go to this different state almost.

I find this very curious. I have no idea why my eyes close. Does anyone else experience this? I was trying to look up any connection between closing eyes and dissociating but I couldn’t find anything. Wonder if it has something to do specifically with my “trauma” thanks


If I’m talking about serious shit, and not in bed with someone, yeah. My eyes are nearly always closed, and if not, looking away. The closed eye thing is protective... it keeps me from mixing this world & that world and responding in kind. If I’m going to bring the past INTO this world? No one wants me acting that shit out. Mixing things up is anathema. No. Nope. No f*cking way in hell. Better to be half in dream-time, than bring that world into this world physically as well as verbally.

Sex, skin to skin, is close enough/immediate enough/here enough to not require that. Mostly. Usually. (It’s not my only form of pillow talk by miles, it’s just that when these things tend to come up ーwith certain peopleー is between rounds).

Even with my eyes shut to seperate worlds, yes. My voice changes a lot. I was in speech therapy for 12 years on 3 continents as a kid. As a result? My accent shifts, depending on where I am & who I’m with. When I’m deep enough in trauma that I’m reliving it to talk about it? The accent that comes across isn’t the one I’m currently using, but the one(s) I was using back when. It’s severe enough I’ve be “diagnosed” by at least 1 idiot with DID. I’m not. I’ve got a fluid accent, is all. Which is common to military brats.

Zero childhood trauma, here. All of mine is in my adulthood.

When NOT in therapy, my flashbacks & zoning out / dissociative episodes look entirely different. My eyes are nearly always open, and my worlds are very much colliding.


Back when I used to do emdr in person, if I became overwhelmed I would dissociate and my eyes would be closed. Then, I’d sort of snap out of it and seem like me. Later, I’d realize that I was still dissociated—only with my eyes open.

Now we do flash emdr and it involves having an engaging conversation with the therapist as my brain processes stuff. My eyes stay open and I stay more present. Later, I may dissociate as I continue to process, but my eyes are open.


thank you for your responses!
Yes, I am just trying to understand a little more. My eyes close, sometimes I am almost folding in half, sometimes I cannot talk, sometimes I see and hear things in my head, sometimes I want to move but I can't.... it's confusing. It's almost like going to sleep.


It depends on what you consider dissociation and I know thats a long and multilevel conversation in itself.
On one level, I can totally go away from where I am physically with my eyes open but not registering anything, like staring at a wall while trying to remember where the outlets and windows are on that wall as you mentally move furniture around the very room you are sitting in trying to remember the details in your head.

But PTSD dissociation is different and I would say that I am most likely to have my eyes open but I cannot say for sure al of the time. In severe instances, it doesn't really matter, I am in so deep in my own head that my memories are overriding anything my eyes might have to tell me. Other times I know I keep my eyes open because I have remained loosely aware of my surroundings while my brain is at the zoo. Thats pretty scary because often my trigger was a memory of a bad accident when I drove past the site and ten minutes later I am 8 miles further down the road and couldn't tell you how I got there. I must have had my eyes open. I probably didn't run any stop signs or tailgate, but I probably didn't care if the car in front of me was staying in their lane or had working brakelights. That scares me.

I got nearly knocked unconscious once, I stood up under the bucket of a front end loader I was working on. I remember thinking "I could just lay down and close my eyes and drift into a place where my head wasn't hurting anymore and my ears werent ringing......" but I stayed conscious and have always thought it was kind of similar to dissociating. There is a point where I am kind of lured into a deeper state but I am more and more getting the ability to say "nope, things to do. Sorry" and stay in the present here and now. I am betting there are as many different answers to your question as people that answer it.


Thank you for your response. Yes I forgot to mention. For me it’s very involuntary. It feels like this heavy weight is closing my eyes and body in turn down.


I agree dissociation presents in many different ways, even for the same individual.

For myself, sometimes it doesn't matter if my eyes are open or not because I am immersed in memories. Some other times I am just so spaced out that I can't hear, talk or move. At other times I feel my eyes kind of half closing or working funny...that is when I am still half aware if what is happening around me...

Sometimes it is extreme confusion followed by spaciness and thought inserts or feelings that do not belong to me and then other parts get active.

Especially if we are actively talking about the hard stuff. That is when it happens the most. So we are titrating (working on stuff in very small bites) and grounding most of the time, many times per session.

Sending love 💜.
This happens to me regularly. The worst situations are when I'm walking with my eyes shut and I don't realise. That's rare though, most times my mind slows down, my eyes close and I slowly fall towards the ground and then sometimes can't move or speak. I think this is the 'flop response' as opposed to flight, fight, freeze or fawn. I have this response to flashbacks but also from trying to open doors in my mind that I'm not ready for. I'm overwhelmed so the best thing my brain can think to do is turn everything off.
You're welcome. I remember having the same feeling and also thinking wow, why aren't we talking about this more! I often felt like I didn't fit PTSD because it's not often I'm in fight or flight but I have a better understanding now. Im glad I was able to offer something valuable to you.


I dissociate a lot and always with my eyes open. It's my go to coping mechanism. It has been such a huge part of my life that I don't see it as something bad, it is just how I function.