Jung and dissociation – some notes

According to Jung: dissociation is a natural necessity for consciousness to operate in one faculty unhampered by the demands of its opposite.

Interestingly, Jung (an old favourite of mine) is one of the only psycho-philosophers to postulate that dissociation is a functional mechanism. From what I have read, many commentators view dissociation as dysfunction.

I cannot agree. Where there are people that find the energy minima, en masse, there must be mental processes that are being met by the dissociation process. I can agree that extreme dissociation that results in multiple personality disorder, amnesia or PTSD is not functional.

Most information I have read speaks to people that suffer from extreme dissociative states rather than those with my problem, which I perceive as an inability to functionally dissociate at all. Those that tend to dissociate can find that a problem in itself. In fact, apparently, it is “fake” relaxation, which isn’t relaxation at all and instead is a slipping into dissociation rather than sitting with a functioning nervous system. One person reports:

“Dissociation is like fake relaxation. It numbs your body and your emotions so you feel nothing. It can be akin to a blissful state and as such, can be deceiving to you and your therapist when you attempt relaxation therapy. If you have a tendency to dissociate and you attempt to do a relaxation technique you may be merely moving into dissociation instead of a relaxation state. Similarly, if you like to meditate all you may be doing is moving into dissociation.”

It is common for therapists to view dissociation on a scale. I can see the logic in that. But almost all therapy seems to come at it from one end – the people that are overly dissociating that want to feel more. I am interested at coming from the other end, which is where I am not functionally dissociating to make space.

The same person on a website reports:

“Somatic therapy enabled me to develop increasing capacity to manage larger amounts of stimulation. And, with the help of a good grounding technique I was able to increasingly move out of it. (Grounding helps to discharge the energy.) As my nervous system became more regulated (i.e. it could handle higher amounts of stimulation) I became less dissociative overall. Once I began to recognize it in myself outside the session, I could take steps to reduce my stimulation in order to reduce it (i.e. make the room quiet, have a hot bath, turn off the radio etc.).


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