Peace of Minds

I feel disconnected, detached from reality

Disconnection is the brain's way of dealing with intense stress.

Disconnection is first and foremost a survival mechanism, and is often used to deal with stressful situations that are reminders of past traumas.

When faced with a threatening situation, an extreme danger that represents a vital risk and that we can't get out of, our mental functions are paralyzed and don't allow for an emotional response. That's why it's difficult to think logically in such situations. To escape, the brain switches off the emotional circuit, leading to a disconnection with our sensory, pain-related and emotional perceptions through emotional anesthesia. This is known as trauma-related dissociation.

Experiences of disassociation or diconnection are frequent in the general population. Disconnection helps individuals to adapt and protect themselves at a given moment. It can occur shortly after a traumatic event or years later. It is triggered when a situation, a place, a person, or a detail reminds us of the event. Even distant from the event, it can continue to occur outside stressful situations, exhausting our organism which will switch to alarm mode.

Disconnection can take the form of a feeling of strangeness and detachment from others (derealization), detachment from oneself (depersonalization), emotional numbness (disaffection) and memory disorders (dissociative amnesia). Somatoform symptoms may also occur, whereby the body expresses psychological symptoms and warns us to take our emotions into account and the need for change. These disorders are reversible and can be cured.

An essential part of treating disconnection is to accept that its origin is linked to the traumatic experience and then to understand its mechanisms and why it continues to be present even when the stressful situation is no longer present. Dissociative symptoms have an understandable function as they provide an involuntary way to escape emotions, thoughts and what you feel.

Often, behaviours such as alcohol abuse, hyperphagia or self-harm are a way of avoiding feelings and pushing away unbearable emotions and thoughts. Disconnection symptoms are ill-adapted when they become uncontrollable in everyday life.

That's why it's useful to spot disconnection! Learning to identify, evaluate and reconnect with our emotions, thoughts, bodily reactions and behaviours in a mindful way will help us to regain control so that we no longer need to disconnect. In short, it's about using our body as a healing tool, taking care of it, and helping it to calm down so that it can react in an appropriate way.

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