The creativity of dissociation

This paper examines the complex and creative strategies employed in keeping beliefs, memories, and various other mental and bodily states effectively dissociated from normal waking consciousness. First, it examines cases of hypnotic anesthesia and hypnotically induced hallucination, which illustrate: (1) our capacity for generating novel mental contents, (2) our capacity for choosing a plan of action from a wider set of options, and (3) our capacity for monitoring and responding to environmental influences threatening to undermine a dissociative state. These observations are then extended to cases involving dissoci- ated memories of trauma. The strategies needed to maintain a dissociated belief or memory are strikingly similar to those involved in preventing our lies from being exposed. Moreover, these strategies are complex, and they potentially affect seemingly remote aspects of a person’s psychol- ogy. That point is illustrated by examining the dispositional nature of both memory and belief, the complex web of relations between our men- tal states and other elements of our psychology, and the interrelatedness of personality states and human capacities. [Article copies available for a..
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