Dissociation. We’ve all done it. Sometimes it’s more conscious than others. Sometimes it’s more necessary than others. Sometimes it’s more dangerous than others.
To be human in this world is to figure out the ways in which to physically and mentally survive. The former needs resources, like food and shelter to be successful. The latter needs protection, like peace and sanity to be successful.
Unfortunately, peace and sanity are hard to come by these days. And while we may not all be fully aware of just how difficult it’s become; our minds certainly are. They’re constantly fighting to bring us back to baseline, while our environment is constantly challenging it in increasingly harsher ways.
The human mind is resilient and can withstand tremendous amounts of trauma while still being able to function. There are vastly different levels of trauma and vastly different responses to them, but the mind does have some common reactions to negative stimuli and works in ways that we can’t always understand. Or even control.
Dissociation can present in a variety of ways and at its most extreme, can lead to disorders such as multiple personality. At its most common, however, it works as a barrier between the human mind and a painful reality that it can’t (or won’t) accept. Without even knowing it, people dissociate in their everyday lives.
We can dissociate when cognitive dissonance rears its undeniable head. We dissociate when our thoughts become too overwhelming. We dissociate when we know that things are very wrong but feel helpless to change them.
The world we live in feels very overwhelming and wrong because it is. It’s been built to benefit the very few at the expense of the rest of us. It’s not natural nor is it sustainable and somewhere deep down, we all know that’s the truth. But with the pressure of work, bills, children and relationships, that truth becomes an impossible pill to swallow.
Instead, we are collectively dissociating from reality and disconnecting from the pain that we all find ourselves in. It’s a very human response but also a very concerning one. If we can’t face our reality, how can we ever hope to change it?
Those few people who have managed to gain control over our resources, and therefore our lives, are not unfamiliar with the ways in which the human mind works. In fact, many powerful people throughout history have sought the advice of well-known psychoanalysts, philosophers, scientists and theorists. For instance, the “founder of public relations”, or the creator of modern-day propaganda, was Edward Bernays. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, the “founder of psychoanalysis”.
The powerful know how to stress the human mind to the point of dissociation and they do so to keep us from actively fighting against their abuses of power. They’re continuously funneling money into ways in which it’s even easier to disconnect from reality. We are rarely without a screen in front of our eyes. We are constantly bombarded with narratives to make us feel fearful, angry and isolated. Why would we want to experience this day after day?
The answer is complicated, but the truth is the only way to stop having to dissociate from reality, is to live in it and actively change it. Nothing changes if we don’t force it. We have to collectively agree to stand firmly in reality. We have to pay attention to all of the injustices so that we can learn how to combat them. And most importantly, we have to support one another in this journey because it won’t be possible alone.
But it will be worth it, because reality will be a place we can finally enjoy together.