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Dissociative and Somatoform Disorders

     Dissociative disorders occur when stress causes parts of a persons personality (which is usually all together as a whole person) to split apart or "dissociate." As a result, some psychological functions are screened out and higher cognitive functioning such as language and intelligence are disturbed. A person with a somatoform disorder has some sort of psychological problem that expresses itself in a physical form (i.e., physical pain etc.)

a) Dissociative Amnesia: Dissociative amnesia occurs when memory is blocked. Usually this time period of memory loss occurs after a stressful event. The memory loss is selective (only some things are not remembered), the person is still able to learn new things, does not disturb or disorient the amnesiac, and is recoverable.

b) Dissociative Fugue: Dissociative Fugue occurs when someone forgets all or some of their past and also takes an unexpected trip and often assumes a new identity.

c) Dissociative Identity Disorder: This disorder was formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, where a person develops 2 or more distinct identities or personalities, and these take turns controlling the person's behaviour. At least one of the personalities doesn't know about the others, and in some cases the different personalities display different physiological characteristics - such as different handwriting and blood pressures.

d) Depersonalization Disorder: This disorder involves a persistent sense of strangeness or unreality about one's identity. For example the person may feel like a robot or an actor in a dream. The person feels a sense of strangeness about the world and other people. The person who suffers from this disorder recognizes these feelings of strangeness and may fear that they are going insane.


e) Body Dismorphic Disorder: A person with this disorder is so obsessed and preoccupied with an imagined or exaggerated defect in appearance that they cannot function normally. For example, they may think that they have horrible skin and will spend hours looking at themselves in the mirror and taking steps to cover their skin. Often this disorder is accompanied by obsessive compulsive disorders and depression.

f) Hypochondriasis: A person suffering from this disorder has a constant fear of disease and misinterprets physical signs and sensations as problematic. They are not faking their symptoms - they genuinely believe that they are ill.


g) Somatization Disorder: People who experience this disorder generally begin to have persistent physical complaints that start at the age of 30, that go on for several years and cannot be medically explained. They experience many complaints, that are different, dramatic and not focused on a particular illness.

h) Pain disorder: People with this disorder experience pain that seems more severe or persistent than can be explained by medical causes. A patient has difficulty in locating the pain and often describe the pain in emotional ways rather than sensory (i.e., the pain in my arm is an angry throbbing), and does not specify changes in the pain (i.e., a decrease or increase).


i) Conversion Disorder: With conversion disorder, an actual physical disability exists without medical basis - for example - unexplained paralysis or blindness. The condition occurs involuntarily, but is often thought to reflect an internal conflict.

Related Links

Abnormal Psychology
Emotional & Behavioural Disorders
     Anxiety Disorders
     Psychological Stress & Physical Disorders
     Mood Disorders
     Personality Disorders
     Substance Use Disorders
     Sexual Dysfunction's, Paraphilias & Gender Identity Disorders
Psychotic and Neuropsychological Disorders
     Schizophrenia
     Acquired Brain Disorders
     Disorders of Childhood & Adolescence
     Mental Retardation & Autism
     Antisocial & Violent Behaviour