You can call it dissociation or disassociation. There's no difference. The phrase refers to a state where you are detached from the physical world around you or even your emotions.
Ideally, we should not be like that. This condition comes about after trauma or internal contradiction, stress, or even boredom.
So, when you are daydreaming, you are actually experiencing dissociation. But that's the harmless kind.
Dissociation Is Actually A Defense Mechanism
But not all forms of dissociation are harmless. Some people can suffer from amnesia, change their identities (fugue), feel unreal (depersonalization), suffer from PTSD, and even feel like the world is not real (derealization).
Dissociation comes from stress or fear. For instance, when thinking of something stressful, some people may dissociate. Similarly, when faced with terrifying social situations, some people's minds experience dissociation.
Drug use can also bring about dissociation, and so can panic attacks and other situations. That is also why situations such as migraines, tinnitus, and light sensitivity can also cause dissociation.
The Connection Between Trauma And Dissociation
Trauma usually comes with a lot of pain and powerlessness. For this reason, our psyche protects us by disconnecting us from the experience to make it more palatable.
That is why you will hear people say they felt like they were watching themselves suffering the severe abuse they experienced. They don't feel like it was happening to them.
While this can actually help the trauma victim get through the experience more easily, the problem is that this dissociation can keep happening even after the trauma has passed, and it is usually very terrifying and unpleasant.
To those who have experienced dissociation, it is one of the most horrifying things ever. It makes you relive the trauma again and again and that messes up your mind.
Dissociation And Childhood Trauma
Usually, although not always, dissociation in adults has a connection to the trauma they suffered in their childhood.
Children easily suffer from trauma as their minds are still developing. Their caregivers can even traumatize them without knowing it.
In any case, after the trauma has happened, the child dissociates. Over time, the experience is repeated until it becomes a regular problem, regardless of whether or not the traumatic situation happens again.
The dissociation then manifests itself in two ways. First, the person can suffer from PTSD. And second, they can take part in dissociative tendencies like drug use or any other addiction.
Living With The Dissociation
In order to deal with the dissociation, some people find ways to justify the abuse they suffered.
But the dissociation feels like torture because you would like to reconnect yourself back to reality but can't. The worst part is that the dissociation helps as it gives you some relief from the trauma you are going through, even though it is all in your head.
In this way, childhood trauma can make you dissociate even as an adult. Your best option is to deal with it. It might take time, but the psychological problem can abate over time with some professional help. That would be nice, wouldn't it?