What is dissociation?

In very simple terms, dissociation is a detachment from reality. Most professionals believe that dissociation exists on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is an experience like daydreaming. At the other end is chronic and complex dissociation which may make it difficult for an individual to function in the "real" world.


Dissociation is one of the many defense mechanisms the brain can use to cope with the trauma of sexual violence. It’s often described as an “out of body” experience where someone feels detached from reality. It may be upsetting for someone to realize that they have dissociated, but it is a natural reaction to trauma.

What is dissociative identity disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder, is part of the spectrum of dissociation. Only a healthcare professional can make this diagnosis.


Where can I go for help?

If you believe you are experiencing dissociation, talk to a healthcare professional or someone you trust. You can learn more about dissociation and dissociative identity disorder from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).



To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

Please note that content on this site does not constitute medical advice and RAINN is not a medical expert. If after reading this information you have further questions, please contact a local healthcare professional or hospital.

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