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The iconic 20th-century psychologist, Carl Jung, once famously said, “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” While this is a beautiful sentiment, what does it mean for those who are currently immersed in the “darkness” of mental illness? Many of these individuals struggle with different types of dissociative disorders.

Individuals with dissociative disorders need some help out of the darkness of their disorder. This is not only necessary so they can see the light of recovery, but also so they can “kindle” their own light that will shine for them through long-term recovery.

What Are Dissociative Disorders?

Many people outside of the mental health field don’t understand precisely what dissociative disorders are and what symptoms they entail. This is partly because dissociative disorders have long been mischaracterized and miscategorized in television, film, and literature as the overarching disorder once known as “multiple personality disorder.”

Because of this misinformation, it is important to garner a more respected clinical description of dissociative disorders. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “Dissociative disorders involve problems with memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior and sense of self. Dissociative symptoms can potentially disrupt every area of mental functioning.” 

The Different Types of Dissociative Disorders

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Dissociative disorders affect an estimated 2% of people living in the United States.” Based on the current U.S. population, that is almost 7 million individuals that are struggling with some form of dissociative disorder.

Notice the plurality of dissociative disorders. This is because “dissociative disorders” is actually an umbrella term for three separate types of dissociative disorders. These types include dissociative identity disorder (DID), dissociative amnesia, and depersonalization/derealization disorder.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

DID is perhaps the most recognizable type of the three dissociative disorders. This is because this is the primary disorder once referred to as “multiple personality disorder. ”

According to the book titled Dissociative Identity Disorder by Paroma Mitra and Ankit Jain, “The DID person is described as a person who experiences separate identities that function independently of each other and are autonomous of each other.” The creation of these separate identities is often related to underlying trauma that has not been properly addressed. 

However, there are other symptoms associated with DID, which are often overlooked. These include anxiety and depression, insomnia, and bouts of amnesia; though more intense periods and symptoms of amnesia are more characteristic of the next disorder discussed.

Dissociative Amnesia

According to an article published in the clinical journal, Psychiatry (Edgmont),Dissociative amnesia is a disorder characterized by retrospectively reported memory gaps. These gaps involve an inability to recall personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature.” As with DID, these gaps are also most often associated with unresolved trauma that an individual is continually reacting to.

In addition, like DID, there are other symptoms associated with dissociative amnesia. These include disordered eating, trouble concentrating, and some instances of detachment. Though, if the latter is more severe and persistent, it could represent the next dissociative disorder discussed.

Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

According to the journal Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, “Depersonalization/derealization disorder is characterized by depersonalization often co-occurring with derealization in the absence of significant psychosis, memory, or identity disturbance.” In more succinct terms, this disorder can make an individual feel like they are outside of their body watching themself function. This is the depersonalization aspect of the disorder.

The derealization part of the disorder refers to when an individual feels disconnected from the world around them. This may also include experiencing distortions of time as well as trouble placing oneself in space.

Achieving Long-Term Recovery From the Different Types of Dissociative Disorders

As severe as the symptoms may manifest for those struggling with a dissociative disorder, there is always an option available for treatment and recovery. Here at the Phoenix Recovery Center, we have several treatment programs that can fit most clients’ mental health needs.

For someone that is experiencing more intense symptoms of a dissociative disorder, we have residential treatment that can help them find more stable footing before they start to integrate back into their everyday life. Now, for individuals that are already able to function in their day-to-day lives but find that their symptoms can be highly disruptive at times, we have an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Then for those that have gone through the more intense stages of treatment, we have a generalized outpatient program (GOP). This GOP can continue the integration process as a client works toward their long-term recovery goals.

Here at the Phoenix Recovery Center, we don’t just want to treat our clients in the short term. We want to empower them so they can experience a long-term recovery and an unimpeded life that no longer has the obstacles of mental health in their way.If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with a type of dissociative disorder, please know that you are not alone. We can help you and your loved ones recover. For more information on dissociative disorders and how they can best be treated, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT