Do You Meet These Criteria?

Published June 12, 2017 by Nan Mykel

Back when I was researching my book I was surprised to learn that the definition of dissociation stretches all the way from “spacing out,” “reduced responsiveness,” “de-realization,” “de-personalization,” “disengagement,” “lost time” and “out-of-the-body-experiences”, all the way to what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder, (now DID), and points in-between. What surprised me most was that even with this liberal definition of dissociation,  Briere and Runtz (1988) were able to discriminate between college women who had been sexually abused and those who had not.

That’s when I began to look back over my life with new eyes, and recalled a missed opportunity for communication when my aunt  asked me if I thought incest offenders should be put in prison.  I realize I went inside myself and never answered her.

Briere describes spacing-out behavior and disengagement as withdrawal into a state of affective neutrality, “where thoughts and awareness of external events are, in a sense, put on hold. Most periods of disengagement are relatively brief, ranging from seconds to several minutes, and the depth of dissociation is usually quite shallow”  (1992, 37-38).

2 comments on “Do You Meet These Criteria?

  • I was going to say in my comment yesterday to the previous blog – while in this state of having ‘zoned out’, or retreated or went into myself’ or dissociated – one remains vaguely aware of one’s surroundings, so yes, it is shallow. Your withdrawing from your aunt’s question: what a terrible thing to have to condemn one’s own father to jail for what he has done to one – of course you went into yourself, indeed fled, from having to answer such a question.

    People who have been abused as children, necessarily had to dissociate from what was happening. It’s terrible. Straight after the sexual encounter the child then has to honour her father – where would she go if she didn’t? There was nowhere else to turn to.

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