Dissociative Amnesia in PTSD and CPTSD as Survival
Dissociative amnesia or dissociative fugue:
You dissociate in order to survive. Dissociation isn’t a static state you move into when you come out of a fight and flight activated state; rather, it is a gradual process in which, with each step, you dissociate further into a state of disconnection.
Each time you further disconnect from yourself through dissociation, you leave behind a part of your awareness. As a consequence, a sense of forgetfulness or amnesia sets in. This PTSD dissociative amnesia can manifest in your not being able to feel certain emotions clearly anymore, or not remembering what happened to you.
The Ins and Outs of PTSD Dissociative Amnesia
It isn’t that your memory is lost to you; it is more that your focus has shifted to something that you feel you are more capable of dealing with.
For example, addiction is part and parcel of trauma and is a way of dissociating to help you “forget” yourself for a moment. It helps you cope with the underlying emotional stress of feeling activated.
Over time, addiction can become a problem in itself and your focus will be geared to overcoming your addiction.
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It is this focus on the more superficial– and making that into a problem– that you think you need to overcome. This is the essence of dissociative amnesia. Moreover, it works in more than one way. It helps you to cope, and simultaneously it prevents you from healing, as you have fragmented and removed your awareness from the underlying emotional charge.
From Addictive Behavior into Numbness and Depression
Dissociative amnesia can be mild or can morph into something more severe. The longer the emotional residue of trauma or PTSD stays alive, the greater the chance that you will further dissociate into a collapsed state. That state will be marked by a shut-down, depression, and numbness.
Again, that state in itself isn’t static. You will move in and out of a shut-down state. Similarly, you will move in and out of the ability to remember what happened to you, and when that gets to be too much, you might divert that energy back into dissociating and stimulating dissociative amnesia.
How is forgetfulness or dissociative amnesia for you?