Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.

Dissociation – One Of The Key Symptoms Of Complex PTSD ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

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dissociation is

Complex trauma – is ongoing interpersonal trauma within a captivity situation, where the victim perceives there to be no viable escape. Examples are ongoing child abuse, sexual exploitation into pornography/prostitution, severe domestic violence.

Dissociation is a severe

but normal reaction,

to severe and abnormal

life experiences.

When a person is experiencing ongoing severe abuse, the brain can develop various forms of dissociation, to cope with these abnormal life experiences. It is a very adaptable form of coping, and one that many survivors are thankful to have developed, to cope.

Dissociation is on a continuum, which can range from ‘zoning out’, frequent daydreaming, through to disorders that impact the survivor on a daily basis, such as Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Dissociation continues even after the survivor no longer is experiencing the severe trauma. When life impacting – it is advisable to seek experienced trauma therapy, with someone adequately trained to help survivors with Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders.

As per Better Health Channel…

Dissociation is a mental process where a person disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity. Dissociative disorders include dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, depersonalisation disorder and dissociative identity disorder.

People who experience a traumatic event will often have some degree of dissociation during the event itself or in the following hours, days or weeks. For example, the event seems ‘unreal’ or the person feels detached from what’s going on around them as if watching the events on television. In most cases, the dissociation resolves without the need for treatment.

Some people, however, develop a dissociative disorder that requires treatment. Dissociative disorders are controversial and complex problems that need specific diagnosis, treatment and support. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have a dissociative disorder, it is important to seek professional help.


Symptoms and signs of dissociative disorders depend on the type and severity, but may include:

  • Feeling disconnected from yourself
  • Problems with handling intense emotions
  • Sudden and unexpected shifts in mood – for example, feeling very sad for no reason
  • Depression or anxiety problems, or both
  • Feeling as though the world is distorted or not real (called ‘derealisation’)
  • Memory problems that aren’t linked to physical injury or medical conditions
  • Other cognitive (thought-related) problems such as concentration problems
  • Significant memory lapses such as forgetting important personal information
  • Feeling compelled to behave in a certain way
  • Identity confusion – for example, behaving in a way that the person would normally find offensive or abhorrent.

Dissociative amnesia

Dissociative amnesia is when a person can’t remember the details of a traumatic or stressful event, although they do realise they are experiencing memory loss. This is also known as psychogenic amnesia. This type of amnesia can last from a few days to one or more years. Dissociative amnesia may be linked to other disorders such as an anxiety disorder.

Dissociative fugue

Dissociative fugue is also known as psychogenic fugue. The person suddenly, and without any warning, can’t remember who they are and has no memory of their past. They don’t realise they are experiencing memory loss and may invent a new identity. Typically, the person travels from home – sometimes over thousands of kilometres – while in the fugue, which may last between hours and months. When the person comes out of their dissociative fugue, they are usually confused with no recollection of the ‘new life’ they have made for themselves.

Depersonalisation disorder

Depersonalisation disorder is characterised by feeling detached from one’s life, thoughts and feelings. People with this type of disorder say they feel distant and emotionally unconnected to themselves, as if they are watching a character in a boring movie. Other typical symptoms include problems with concentration and memory. The person may report feeling ‘spacey’ or out of control. Time may slow down. They may perceive their body to be a different shape or size than usual; in severe cases, they cannot recognise themselves in a mirror.

Dissociative identity disorder

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is the most controversial of the dissociative disorders and is disputed and debated among mental health professionals. Previously called multiple personality disorder, this is the most severe kind of dissociative disorder.

The condition typically involves the coexistence of two or more personality states within the same person. While the different personality states influence the person’s behaviour, the person is usually not aware of these personality states and experiences them as memory lapses. The other states may have different body language, voice tone, outlook on life and memories. The person may switch to another personality state when under stress. A person who has dissociative identity disorder almost always has dissociative amnesia too.


Without treatment, possible complications for a person with a dissociative disorder may include:

  • Life difficulties such as broken relationships and job loss
  • Sleep problems such as insomnia
  • Sexual problems
  • Severe depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Problematic drug use including alcoholism
  • Self-harm, including suicide.

My own personal experiences of dissociation, are ‘zoning out’, ‘robot mode’ and depersonalisation.
My dissociation symptoms, developed due to ongoing child abuse and neglect, ongoing child sexual abuse and ongoing severe abuse of every kind in captivity, caused by a sadistic psychopath.
Zoning Out
When my traumatised brain is overwhelmed, with either stress, increased PTSD symptoms, flashbacks and severe anxiety… my brain will flip into what I call ‘robot mode’ – where I am completely in control of my thoughts and actions, but I feel spaced out as I do this.
As I am aware of this happening, I have this managed and under control. It happens far less, as I have proceeding along my healing journey. And as with all symptoms, I have persisted in learning how to manage this.
When faced with life threatening situations, my traumatised brain flips into depersonalisation. This happened to me when I was attacked in a park at knife point, when I had a potentially life threatening car incident on a highway, when my son jumped in our swimming pool when he could not swim.
The depersonalisation feels like everything is happening in slow motion. I am fully aware of what is happening, fully in control of my thoughts and actions, but I have zero emotional reaction and I remember it like watching slow motion TV. I feel separate from my own body.
This was diagnosed as depersonalisation. I am not able to stop this occurring, when it happens. As it only happens when there are life threatening situations, it does not occur often.

I have a lot of resources on my Website @ https://www.healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.com/dissociation

~ Lilly Hope Lucario

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Author: Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

I am a survivor of complex and multiple trauma and abuse, who at the age of 40, began my healing journey. I am using my journey to recovery and healing, to help others, to help survivors feel less alone, validated, encouraged and to enable others to understand themselves more. Complex trauma, particularly from severe, prolonged childhood abuse, is profoundly life changing. Complex trauma produces complex adults. The journey to recovery is a painful, often lonely, emotional daily challenge and it is my aim to encourage others in their daily battle. ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

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