Dissociation and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Rafaële J.C. Huntjens, Martin J. Dorahy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Dissociative experiences are thought to occur acutely (e.g., during or immediately following trauma) or chronically and are considered to reduce the subjective distress accompanying stressful events. Growing evidence is consistent with a model that distinguishes between two qualitatively different types of phenomena—“compartmentalization” and “detachment.” Compartmentalization involves a deficit in the ability to deliberately control processes or actions that would normally be amendable to such control (e.g., amnesia and dissociative identities). Detachment refers to an experienced state of disconnection from the self or the environment (e.g., depersonalization, derealization, and numbing).

In the present contribution, we discuss both detachment and compartmentalization phenomena. In addition, we discuss both dissociation as an acute response to trauma and persistent dissociation in the form of the most severe and chronic of the dissociative disorders, dissociative identity disorder (DID). We attend to the burgeoning empirical literature on memory processing and dissociation given the central role of these cognitive operations in the development and maintenance of the dissociative disorders, and more broadly, posttraumatic symptomatology.

We end with a more general appeal for more transdiagnostic studies of dissociative phenomena, both in the areas of detachment and compartmentalization, emphasizing that dissociative disorders are not a category of mysterious diagnoses that need to be understood outside of well‐known cognitive operations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationAn Interdisciplinary, Searchable, and Linkable Resource
EditorsRobert A. Scott, Stephen M. Kosslyn
Place of PublicationHoboken, N.J.
PublisherWiley Online Library
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-118-90077-2
Publication statusPublished - May-2015


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