Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders most often occur in people who have been physically, sexually or verbally abused. In order to protect them, their mind separates the painful memories and emotions from the rest of their thoughts. It “disassociates” the two.

This separation affects their thoughts, their memory and even their identity. The suppressed memories and feelings often emerge in strange ways and at odd times. In severe cases, it can lead to a split personality.

Sleep-related dissociative disorders emerge during sleep transitions —while falling asleep or within a few minutes of waking up, when the memory of past abuse emerges from the mind. As the mind recalls the episode, the body acts it out and violent behavior is often the result.

Walking or running away, screaming, sexual behavior, binge eating, driving away or even suicide attempts can occur. An episode may last just a few minutes or longer than an hour. And, even though dissociative disorders happen while technically awake, there is no memory of what happened during the episode.

* Also know as: Nocturnal (psychogenic) dissociative disorders, hysterical somnambulistic

See also:

Potential forensic implications:

  • missing persons (amnestic wandering)
  • sexual assault
  • sleep-related violence