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Dissociation is the phenomenon of having different aspects of one's memory, personality or awareness separated and sequestered into different parts of one's consciousness.

Perhaps the most extreme and dramatic example of dissociation concerns people who have multiple personalities, where each of their personalities constitutes a distinct set of attitudes, preferences, and ways of behaving and relating to oneself and others. These individuals switch back on forth between their different personalities, and while manifesting one personality will have a limited awareness of the others.

Other examples of dissociation include having no recollection of certain important or memorable personal events (that typically involved intense emotions), feeling no emotions or physical pain in certain situations, or feeling like one is acting totally automatically or has no feeling or control of certain body parts.

Depersonalization refers to the subjective sense of feeling detached from one's body or thoughts, such that the person feels as if they are observing themselves from the outside (often called an out-of-body experience), that they are in a dream, or that they feel themselves to be unreal or unfamiliar.

Derealization is a similar kind of experience, where a person feels as if their surroundings have become unfamiliar, unreal or dream-like. This is sometimes described as feeling as if one is in a movie rather than reality.

People who frequently have these kinds of experiences are said to have Dissociative Disorders. They will tend to feel confused and unclear about their identities. The cause of dissociation is thought to have something to do with the mind's way of coping with traumatic events.


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Dissociative Amnesia