Dissociative disorders and conversion disorders are a group of reactive mental disorders whose main symptom is altered state of consciousness with prolonged and severe dissociation, psychosomatic symptoms, and poor interaction between functions of consciousness, in particular with regard to memory, perception, sensation, motor function, and identity.
Many of these disorders were classified in the past as hysteria. Dissociative disorders can turn into psychosis, the so-called hysterical psychosis. Unlike simple dissociation, which is a defense mechanism in normal psychology, it has a longer-lasting and dissociative interference palpable effect on mental health and debilitating.
About 10% of the population suffer dissociative disorder, and approximately 1% of population have a multiple personality disorder. About 16% of psychiatric clinic inmates (not outpatient) suffer from a dissociative disorder.
The lines between the shapes of the dissociative disorders is diffuse, and in most forms include memory loss, decreased consciousness or attendance rate and the change in motor skills. Common to all forms is that they can be triggered suddenly in response to mental stress or a life crisis or in response to something reminiscent of a past trauma, that the condition is prolonged. The symptoms do not depend on drugs, another psychosis or organic contingent malfunctions (brain damage, endocrine disorder, etc.). The functions affected are in all cases related to identity and its conditions, and also forms other than multiple personality disorder.
Symptoms of dissociative disorder are sometimes manifested as symptoms of somatic illnesses or drug abuse. According to ICD-10, dissociative disorder cannot be diagnosed until other disease or drug misuse have been excluded. The dissociative disorder is always a result of extreme stress or trauma. Such experience is necessary for someone to get dissociative disorder diagnosed.
The most famous group of dissociative disorders is multiple personality disorder (or split personality), which many believe to be a form of schizophrenia.
The dissociative disorders triggered by a mental trauma or intractable life problems often lasts no more than a week, but can become chronic. Somatic form disorders have also physical symptoms that cannot be explained by organic problems (fixed ideas), such as state of trance, hypoesthesia, and paralyses, and portrays the person’s idea of how a disease occurs.
Unlike somatic form disorders, the dissociative disorders symptoms do not cause any pain and the individual are rarely seeking contact to care for their physical symptoms. The dissociative individual’s indifference to their own physical ailments was described by Freud as La belle indifférence.
Self-injury is common for the patients with dissociative disorders, and occurs in between 20 and 50% of the cases, depending on the diagnosis. Self-injury is more common among women than men. One theory is that deliberate self-harm works as an experience of trauma and an identification with the aggressor; again the experience of trauma is also a common symptom in women.
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