What Can Be Dissociated?


Any and all Aspects of Experience can be dissociated!


What are Aspects of Experience?

The parts and pieces contained in your experiences are called Aspects of Experience.
You can dissociate one or more Aspects of any given experience.

Every experience is different with a different combination of Aspects that can be dissociated.



Aspects of Experience fall within a framework of 5 CategoriesBehaviour, Emotions, Sensations, Knowledge/Awareness, and Identity. (based on BASK model developed by Bennett Braun.) Each category involves a grouping of specific Aspects of Experience, any of which may or may not be present in individual experiences.

  1. Behaviour: what you do, what you say, habits, routines, activities, coping mechanisms, etc …
  2. Emotions (Affect): Empathy, guilt, shame, love, hope, joy, fear, anger, sadness, etc …
  3. Sensations and Sensory Input: balance, sight, hearing, taste, smell touch/body feelings – temperature control, pain, comfort/discomfort, arousal, etc…
  4. Knowledge and Awareness: conscious memory, knowledge/information, sense of time and place, beliefs, etc …
  5. Identity:  sense of self, personality traits, gender, age, etc … 



Why Do Aspects of Experience Matter?


When an Aspect of Experience is Cut-off from our conscious awareness through dissociation, it can produce effects from the mildest that has no impact on your life, through to extremes of vast and/or intense disruptions, interferences, and intrusions in life.


Dissociated Aspects of Experience Can Intrude in Life


How can you know what effects dissociation is having in your life and that of others?


The Phrases We Use Are Clues!

You know what effects dissociation is having in your life and that of others because the phrases we use are clues! Though we may not realize it, in our everyday lives, we often hear and use words and phrases that convey common dissociative experiences. Recognizing the clues within these commonly used Dissociative Phrases improves our ability to understand ourselves and others, and the role that dissociation plays in all of our lives.


Familiar Phrases of Dissociation

Familiar phrases can convey the impact of dissociation in ordinary, everyday life.

Behavior “I couldn’t make myself do it, no matter how hard I tried”
“I startle at the drop of a hat”
“I couldn’t move a muscle”
“When I’m nervous I tap my foot without noticing” (or twist my hair)
Emotions (Affect) “Grief doesn’t get me – I’m fine”
“She smiles when she tells you of her pain”
“I can’t cry”
“I never get angry”
Sensations “I never feel the cold”
“I just ignore the pain”
“The smell took me back in time”
“I feel nothing during sex”
Knowledge and Awareness “I don’t remember my childhood”
“I was in denial”
“I zoned out”
“Suddenly, it all came back to me”
“I couldn’t see it when it was right there in front of me”
Identity “For the first time, I connected to my inner child”
“I wasn’t myself”
“My life feels like it belongs to someone else”


Phrases of “Moderate to Extreme Dissociation”

Some phrases can indicate the possibility of complex degrees of Dissociation of the various Aspects of a Traumatic Experience. 

When a trauma-related Aspect of Experience is Cut-off from our conscious awareness through dissociation, and not later healed from, it can produce a wide range of negative effects that disrupt and interfere with life. Moderate to Extreme effects of trauma and dissociation can take form as vast and/or intense disruptions, interferences, and intrusions in life. They can involve anything from flashbacks, addiction, mental health issues, or physical disability, through to violence, uncontrollable, dangerous, and/or criminal behavior, or disorders like anorexia or clinical depression, as well as many other behavioral, emotional, mental/psychiatric, or physical disorders. The phrases people use can give us clues to trauma-related dissociative effects they may be experiencing.