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The concept of dissociation was developed in the late 19th century by Pierre Janet for conditions of "double consciousness" in hypnosis, hysteria, spirit possession and mediumship. He defined dissociation as a deficit in the capacity of integration of two or more different "systems of ideas and functions that constitute personality", and suggested that it can be related to a genetic component, to severe illness and fatigue, and particularly to experiencing adverse, potentially traumatizing events. By the late 20th century, various and often contradictory concepts of dissociation were suggested, which were either insufficient or exceedingly including when compared to the original idea. Currently, dissociation is used to describe a wide range of normal and abnormal phenomena as a process in which behaviour, thoughts and emotions can become separated one from another. A complete presentation of mechanisms involved in dissociation is still unknown. Scientific research on basic processes of dissociation is derived mainly from studies of hypnosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. Given the controversies in modern concepts of dissociation, some researchers and theorists suggest return to the original understanding of dissociation as a basic premise for the further development of the concept of dissociation.


Esmina Avdibegović. Contemporary concepts of dissociation. Psychiatria Danubina. 2012 Oct;24 Suppl 3:S367-72

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PMID: 23114818

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