Biology of dissociation: current findings from stress research

Saturday, 25th September 2021 State of the Art Kim Hinkelmann 09:45am - 10:30am Room: Humboldt

The term dissociation describes an interruption of the normally integrative functions of consciousness, memory, identity or perception of the environment. Dissociative phenomena are quite common and also occur in everyday life. The development of dissociation is multifactorial, i.e. caused by an interaction of biological, life and learning history as well as genetic factors.

Dissociative symptoms are multifaceted and range from feeling confused to the loss of pain sensation and the ability to act. According to ICD-10, functional neurological symptoms such as movement disorders or seizures are also counted among them. However, "psychological" dissociative symptoms are often reported in the context of traumatization, so that a connection with the stress response is obvious.

This lecture will use examples from animal and human studies to provide an overview of various neurobiological factors that play a role in dissociation, as well as illustrating possible mechanisms of dissociation on the basis of findings from stress research.

Simple and to the point:

  • In dissociation, important functions such as consciousness, memory, self-perception and perception of the environment are interrupted
  • Dissociation can feel like “being beside oneself”, but can also be associated with complete inability to act
  • The reasons for a dissociative state are manifold, psychological dissociative symptoms are usually stress reactions and associated with traumatization
  • Studies on animals and humans as well as stress research give an overview of neurological factors and mechanisms involved in dissociation.