Positive Dissociation?

Laura

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I've been thinking about the positive uses of dissociation and, in
addition to what we have already surmised about meditation as a
dissociative healing process, a way to get in touch with the higher
self, I decided to think about such things as video games, movies, TV
shows, books, etc., which are common methods of dissociation.

According to one book I read, many people like to repeatedly engage in
certain fantasies that fascinate them - dramas of great good and evil -
which are generally a child's view of the world: monsters and angels,
with the helpless child either pursued by the one or saved by the other.

There is also the variation where the emotional child self can
identify with one or the other and "play the role" of either the monster
or the angel. (This is just a loose description, you can extrapolate
that general dynamic to all kinds of TV shows, movies, video games, etc.)

The main thing is that daydreaming/dissociating/movies/games/books are
not intrinsically destructive. In fact, they can be very helpful. Such
states can be the wellspring of creative activities such as art, music,
discoveries, etc.

It seems to me that the significance of dissociating depends entirely on
what happens during that time - on the content - and, most importantly,
WHY it is being done.

Daydreaming, watching movies, playing games, reading, used as a form of
learn, experimentation and rehearsal of real-life issues that are played
out free from the constraints of reality, where we can give free rein to
our emotions and ideas so as to test them, wonder about them, and then
select good ones and make plans to implement them, seems to me to be
healthy and life-affirming.

Pathological dissociation serve no other purpose than to engulf us in a
fantasy world as an escape from real life and dealing with our issues.
Sure, it may restore our hope or "good feeling" momentarily, but when it
is over, we have no new thoughts about what to do next, how to do it,
how to bring our dissociative fantasy back with us into real-world
practical issues. We have stolen energy from somebody else's fantasy
instead of finding the wellspring of our own creativity.

Our time spent in dissociation should enrich our lives, give us ideas
about how to reshape our lives, change our programs, create new patterns
of behavior, and so on. They should not be an escape that is only
temporary, and when we emerge from it we are still trapped in our old
feelings that we are helpless and unlovable.

So, if you think about dissociating in this way, what kinds of movies,
shows, games, fantasies, reading material, etc, would you consider
positive?
 

allen

Jedi Master
I think the most positive for me have been those that involved me actively: making music (or just practicing an instrument), acting, and writing. All of those can be dissociative, but they aren't passively dissociative like just being entertained by a movie or tv show are.

The one that can really be a lot of fun and is open to anyone (no special skills needed to participate) is acting, especially improvisational acting. In my experience in improv you can find a lot of programs getting triggered in a safe environment, where you can look at them and laugh at them...or even just let them play out as part of the scene and see where they lead you without necessarily getting completely caught up in them.

More formalized acting can be really useful too, I think. I've worked through the "to be or not to be" speech from Hamlet a thousand different ways looking for the nuance by delivering it as different characters,
from an old Jewish man to a street thug to a guy working in an office who just can't take it any more. Every reading as a different character brings out something new.
 

truth seeker

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Right now for me it would be artwork. I feel renewed by it and at the same time that I'm accomplishing something.
 

knowledge_of_self

The Living Force
Laura said:
The main thing is that daydreaming/dissociating/movies/games/books are
not intrinsically destructive. In fact, they can be very helpful. Such
states can be the wellspring of creative activities such as art, music,
discoveries, etc.

It seems to me that the significance of dissociating depends entirely on
what happens during that time - on the content - and, most importantly,
WHY it is being done.
Thank you for starting this topic Laura. I was actually going to start a thread on this very subject because I was reading Myth of Sanity last night and it was talking about how dissociation can be a positive thing in a way for some very abused kids. Because it’s the only way they can handle what is happening to them, so they dissociate. But from what I understand that dissociation starts to feel so good that they become used to it and it becomes routine and eventually harmful.

I was thinking while I was reading this how imagination is pretty much the same thing as dissociation. I recall when I was a child my mom and peers encouraged me to expand my imagination. Thinking of the impossibilities. That’s why I really loved cartoons and Disney movies especially like the little mermaid. Because it stretched my imagination like a sling shot. But than if that IS a form of dissociation, how can it be a bad thing because that’s where our creative juice comes from. Imagination! That’s what I remember my art teacher telling me when I was younger. Therefore, I agree with you Laura that dissociation can become negative due to the circumstances of trauma.


Laura said:
Pathological dissociation serve no other purpose than to engulf us in a
fantasy world as an escape from real life and dealing with our issues.
Sure, it may restore our hope or "good feeling" momentarily, but when it
is over, we have no new thoughts about what to do next, how to do it,
how to bring our dissociative fantasy back with us into real-world
practical issues. We have stolen energy from somebody else's fantasy
instead of finding the wellspring of our own creativity.

Our time spent in dissociation should enrich our lives, give us ideas
about how to reshape our lives, change our programs, create new patterns
of behavior, and so on. They should not be an escape that is only
temporary, and when we emerge from it we are still trapped in our old
feelings that we are helpless and unlovable.

So, if you think about dissociating in this way, what kinds of movies,
shows, games, fantasies, reading material, etc, would you consider
positive?
I can name many movies and books, especially cartoons that have helped me throughout my life. In fact, I think movies and heroic stories about ‘good’ & ‘evil’ were some of the stories that got me to start thinking in ‘esoteric’ ways.

Some titles off the top of my head are: Sailor Moon (anime), Experimental Series Lain (anime)
Story of the Alps: My Annette (very old anime), Daddy Long legs (Book/Cartoon) Gone with the wind (Book/Movie –though I actually haven’t read the book) Great Expectations (Book & Movie)Many fairy tales such as, Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Snow White, I can go on and on… The reason I name these titles is because they have all in one way or another helped me learn a moral lesson or expanded my mind/imagination in some way that I think was towards the positive. And I know that sometimes when I watch an anime that's very moving it gives me the will to draw & sketch. It makes me want to create art... so it's very helpful to me.

However, I can’t say that video games have helped me as much… they are very dissosiative but most video games don’t have a very strong underlying message most of the time. And the ones that do are already based on a story introduced through movies/books/comics. Etc. Like Star Wars the game or Batman, Spiderman, etc… I’d love to add Mario to that list, but… I think that’s just pure dissociation. If that even makes sense. Most video games give you the feeling that the makers of the games are stealing other people’s creativity. Not to mention they are extremely expensive when they first come out. But I’m getting off topic here. I just think most video games can’t be considered as a tool for positive dissociation.
 

Mountain Crown

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Many thanks for posting this Laura; I've been trying with limited success to think about this since it was mentioned by the Cs.

Maybe the positive dissociative activities would be those that engage and strengthen processes that are used in normal "awake" states? Puzzles come to mind. Movies and theater less geared to sensation and more to inspiration and education would be another example.

Could fantasies be used to compliment self-remembering? The imagination may allow the observer in ourselves to become aware of the more subtle or hidden feelings and beliefs we carry.
 

Laura

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FOTCM Member
Hmmm... makes me wonder about cartoons. Why can someone expand their imagination in a two dimensional world - a world that is clearly NOT real nor even purports to be - but cannot do the same in relation to the real world?

I suspect some insidious programming relating to the use of cartoons.
 

Mountain Crown

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Laura said:
Hmmm... makes me wonder about cartoons. Why can someone expand their imagination in a two dimensional world - a world that is clearly NOT real nor even purports to be - but cannot do the same in relation to the real world?

I suspect some insidious programming relating to the use of cartoons.
Now that's an insight worth pondering. It seems to be connected in a real sense to YCYOR.

I think stand-up comedy and performance art may be vulnerable to this also.
 

ana

The Living Force
I do remember two movies tha timpress/ impact me in my childhood, one is The labyrinth and the other one is The neverending story.

In the first case I do have a first impression on how the "dark side" is waiting the oportunity to seize the best of us, and how only we, have the hability and capability of restoring it with great effort and will.



The never ending story gave me strength and faith in the possible existence of another kind of world, and how this world that is first only perceived as an illusory an hanker one, can later became one and the same with the physical world.

Falkor the luckdragon wich helps Atreyou represent for me the power from above that helps anyone who goes in search of truth, I also remember "The swamp of sadness" it really broke my heart seeing Atreyu's horse being swallowed by the swamp without fighting while Atreyou was in despair struggling to save him.

For me this film represent the start of the search of the seeker of truth, the trials going on in the instintive/spiritual world as described by Clarissa Pinkola in women who run with wolves and the last trial wich is to keep the faith in the existence of this inner world even if we find ourselves in the physical world.

That's when The Oracle tells Atreyou that the only way to stop the Nothing is to save the Empress, and for that to occur, she needs to be given a new name by a human child outside the boundaries of Fantasia:

Here is the video where Bastian gives a name to the Empress:

_http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifhJHYjovA8

Once Bastian is able to stand for the world He perceive in himself, that world became real.
 

Adaryn

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Deedlet said:
Thank you for starting this topic Laura. I was actually going to start a thread on this very subject because I was reading Myth of Sanity last night and it was talking about how dissociation can be a positive thing in a way for some very abused kids. Because it’s the only way they can handle what is happening to them, so they dissociate. But from what I understand that dissociation starts to feel so good that they become used to it and it becomes routine and eventually harmful.
According to my understanding, it's not that it "feels good", it's just a defence mechanism that gets triggered unconsciously/automatically whenever one finds themselves in a situation deemed as threatening (even if it is in fact not so). In the past, it did help the child to cope with the traumatic situation, but is no longer needed now, as the child is grown up and the situation is over; as you say, what was once positive and useful, even possibly saving the child's life, has now become negative and harmful to the individual.
 

Helle

Jedi Master
Times when I dissociate in a positive way is when I do gardening.
I believe it to be positive because I feel I connect with myself somehow, doing psychical labor, being outside, hands buried in soil.

Exercising is another way where I can dissociate in a positive way. I turn my eye so inward that I completely loose myself mentally, and it makes me feel renewed afterwards.

I also loose complete track of time while trying to keep up with this forum, so that also feels like a sort of positive dissociation to me. I'm learning alot :)
 

T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
What interests me is the question of whether it is the specific thing, or the person themselves that positive dissociation depends on. So we're talking about something objective? Because, don't we all receive a different impression from the same thing, if there's nothing objective about it?

The C's said something like, only 11 percent of Americans (possibly people in general) actually think. If you took a person like this, and showed them something like a movie that's a true story about oppression, they might get the escape factor during the viewing, but then not apply any of that afterwards and return to life with nothing helpful to them. Whereas someone who does, at least try to think, might come away from it motivated to do something.
 

Adaryn

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Hi Helle,

Times when I dissociate in a positive way is when I do gardening.
I believe it to be positive because I feel I connect with myself somehow, doing psychical labor, being outside, hands buried in soil.

Exercising is another way where I can dissociate in a positive way. I turn my eye so inward that I completely loose myself mentally, and it makes me feel renewed afterwards.
Gardening or other physical activities are certainly positive (though I'm ashamed to say that is not really my cup of tea and I should exercize more :-[). However, Laura's specific question here is:

So, if you think about dissociating in this way, what kinds of movies, shows, games, fantasies, reading material, etc, would you consider
positive?
 

Adaryn

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
T.C. said:
What interests me is the question of whether it is the specific thing, or the person themselves that positive dissociation depends on. So we're talking about something objective? Because, don't we all receive a different impression from the same thing, if there's nothing objective about it?
Interesting question. I think both the "transmitter" and the receiver are important. Thought I'd tend to say that the kind of movies/books/works that make you think and reflect would not interest people who watch movies/read books just to escape and for pure, mindless entertainement.

If you took a person like this, and showed them something like a movie that's a true story about oppression, they might get the escape factor during the viewing, but then not apply any of that afterwards and return to life with nothing helpful to them
The lesson aspect, and applying it in one's own life is a good point, and something to ponder IMO.
 

Be Like Water

Padawan Learner
For me, Sci-Fi has been a big "learning" dissociation. Especially movies such as Logan's run, Farenheit 451 and THX 1138, all society-gone-wrong science-fiction, and I do recommend all 3, and authors such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke ect.... Also the series "V", which I have vague memories of seeing as a child.....
Role-Playing games can be an interesting one in that observing your own choices in regard to hypothetical situations can be usefull and storylines can be interesting, not to mention the artwork in some of the better games. Nearly all of my "dissociative media" do have an element of good Vs evil and the role we play in this drama of life.....
 

RedFox

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Laura said:
I've been thinking about the positive uses of dissociation and, in
addition to what we have already surmised about meditation as a
dissociative healing process, a way to get in touch with the higher
self, I decided to think about such things as video games, movies, TV
shows, books, etc., which are common methods of dissociation.
Laura said:
It seems to me that the significance of dissociating depends entirely on
what happens during that time - on the content - and, most importantly,
WHY it is being done.
Could it be that a parallel could be drawn between dissociation and mediation in regard to the WHY (intent)? By this I mean meditating with or without a seed, and dissociating with or without a seed/intent/goal/aim.
I am unable to find reference to meditations with/without seed I got my understanding from...my understanding is that meditating without a seed leaves you open to outside influence.....
So does I think dissociating without a seed/intent/goal/aim...

I guess the difference is what you take into the state, what parts of you are chosen to be 'on' or 'off' during that state......what awareness you have within it.
With a seed in meditation or a goal whilst dissociating (say tending your garden) you are aiming at something, even if its intangible it is still an aim....thus certain thinking parts (analytical?) of you are still present.
Without a seed or goal (say watching TV) you tend not to have those thinking parts engaged.....

So to use a computer analogy (and I hope this isn't too simplified) with a seed/goal and meditation/dissociation you go into it with your firewall (critical thinking) engaged.....without seed/goal you probably have it disabled.
I doubt its that fully black/white, but I think its close.

I watched Darren Browns 'how to control the nation' on TV a few weeks ago (because others where watching it)....he was meant to get the people watching to 'stick' to there chair....and it worked on my girlfriend and her son.
They where stuck/couldn't get up.....I realised after a moment of talking to my girlfriend that (despite never having seen one before) she was actually in a semi hypnotic state.
I watched it with the intent of critically analysing how it all worked....and I did feel some influence...but because my thinking was engaged I could acknowledge the effect rather than go with it (as he suggested).

Whenever I am watching TV (very little now) or a DVD or at the cinema I try and break myself away (stop the disassociation for a moment) and double check my critical thinking....mostly with films I just 'go with it'....but try to retain part of me that is paying attention to what I am 'going with' so that I can change course if needed......this is not easy.
I will no longer be fed something I won't question. Or at least try to question......and I think the questioning part of the mind is the part that's either present or not, and may be the key to defining if dissociating is entropic or creative.
Perhaps then without questioning you give your power (choice) to something external, and with questioning you give power to the internal?

I tend to have a very active imagination....and tend to zone out (day dream) a lot daily...so this topic and thinking with a hammer over it is very timely for me.
A few places/activities I tend to disassociate positively in (or so I think) are cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes and sitting on the toilet :lol:
I can engage some critical thinking and work through different problems.....I can also do this when I walk to/fro the car at work (but have to actively Stop myself doing so when driving!! I had my car accident in just such a state).
So its a bit of a tightrope walk it seems...

I'm like Deelet I love cartoons, more so than I do now but am concerned that they promote a simplistic view of reality....but then so do many things (tv soap operas for one).
I like manga, because of the mythology/magic that tends to go into them. But again are you questioning what your watching or just going with the flow of it without question?? I've been so wrapped up in cartoons....infact I even posted that I chose my forum/on line name after a cartoon RedFox because of its emotional appeal to me at the time (without any critical thinking I completely identified with this now internalised archetypal cartoon fox because of the emotions it brought up inside me).

So without questioning what is let it and what emotions it attaches to....things (programs/beliefs/responces/reactions/thoughts) can take up residence (because they where not analysed by the thinking mind) and survive because they elicited emotions in a dissociated state at the time of entry and are now intwined/feed off that emotion, forever to play out in your thoughts/programs/reactions until questioned and separated from the (probably buried) emotions fueling it. osit

I'm very interested to see how this thread develops.

*edit* spelling, and clarity.
 
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