Complex PTSD Workbook: Dissociation


“Dissociation, like all other symptoms of C-PTSD, is a learned behavior that initially helped you cope with a threatening environment.

A neglected or abused child will rely upon built-in, biological protection mechanisms for survival to “tune out” threatening experiences.

In adulthood, dissociation becomes a well-maintained division between the part of you involved in keeping up with daily tasks of living and the part of you that is holding emotions of fear, shame, or anger.

You might feel that it’s just too much to think about what happened.

When emotions or body sensations come to the surface of your awareness, it is common to instinctively push the scary, yucky, painful, or confusing feelings far away by resorting to learned dissociative patterns.

Symptoms of dissociation exist on a continuum, and can be relatively mild such as feeling foggy or fuzzy, having a hard time talking about experiences, or feeling tired.

You might feel distracted or have difficulty concentrating. You might feel numb or cut off.

More intense symptoms include feeling out of control, having lapses of memory, or experiencing “lost time.”


My two cents: We have two parts, part of you involved in keeping up with daily tasks of living and the part of you that is holding emotions of fear, shame, or anger.

I feel this division inside, I live it.

How about you?



4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by rudid96 on May 27, 2022 at 8:58 pm

    I live in this maddening division that for way too long left me thinking I must be crazy or a fraud. Nope, just good old dissociation. I greet the neighbor, speak to the gas station attendant, and do lots of ‘normal’ things. However, gearing myself up for a social event, talking about my own history, or any number of other triggers, and my head begins to swim. I can’t breathe, my limbs are numb, and it feels likes I’ve been thrown into a dark vortex. I hate it.

  2. You can navigate the shallow areas of social interaction very well

    I was a salesman, hard to believe

    Hated to talk in front of a group

    I would have a panic attack.

    I would visualize it was game day when I had to cold call

    Looking back PTSD was dormant back then

    Since PTSD exploded my life has drastically changed

    The salesman went down a dark hole.

  3. Posted by rudid96 on May 28, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    The role of the salesman was false. You were able to summon up the creative forces within to create the outline of choice. A nice testament to your inner strength and intellect. I’ve adopted lots of socially sanctioned false roles. These masks allow for life navigation for a limited time and then they become too difficult because they’re inauthentic. C-PTSD leaves me feeling like a stranger even to myself. Since many of us live more socially isolated, we lack the witnessing that helps meld the personality.

  4. Wow

    Sanctioned false roles

    Yes I identify with that

    My salesman was not truly me, but he functioned well amongst the sharks somehow

    A stranger to ourselves

    Well as kids that false imprint of unworthiness is what we hide

    That identity we are afraid will be seen and people will know for sure how flawed we are

    Normal people wonder how we feel this worthless

    I feel it but do not understand it

    Thanks for sharing this

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