Triggering Dissociation with a Task

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I have written about my dissociation in the past in My Mental Illness: Depression and Dissociation and written a guest post attempting to explain a little bit about dissociation on SB4MH.

Dissociation is defined as ‘the action of disconnecting or separating or the state of being disconnected’. (Google’s definition) Dissociation is often associated with trauma and serves as a defence mechanism when we have to face an experience or an emotion that is so overwhelming to us that we cannot deal with it. Dissociation helps us to survive this situation by allowing us to distance ourselves from the situation so we cannot feel the full blow.

However, a person doesn’t have to experience the traditional type of trauma such as abuse in order to dissociate. We all do it sometimes, often without being aware of it.

Trauma is also subjective and different for every person. In the Myth of Sanity, Strout gives the example of two parachutists. One of them has been doing it for years while the other only just started today. After jumping out of the plane their parachute does not open. The experienced jumper doesn’t panic as she’s very aware of the emergency parachute. For her, the jump will have been like any other. However, the new parachutist freaks out and only realizes she has an emergency parachute after about 30 seconds; the experience becomes traumatizing to her.

For you, a shouting parent during your childhood can have been traumatizing. As a result, you might have started distancing yourself whenever anyone raises their voice, as a raised voice is inevitably linked to that first traumatic event of your parents raising their voice. In the current, this might mean that you can’t speak when you have to be a part of a confrontation, as your system automatically removes you from the present moment when a voice is raised. Because this is normal for you, you might see it as your own fault, thinking you’re simply not grown up enough to deal with confrontations. You are likely not aware that this could be dissociation.

If dissociation goes unnoticed for a long time it can prevent a person from living in the present if the defence mechanism continues to be triggered outside of the original traumatic event, such as mentioned in the example above. This is because while dissociation may help the individual endure the situation, people ‘cannot simultaneously protect [them]selves and experience life fully,’ as Stout describes. In other words, dissociation won’t only take you away from a stressful situation, it can also take you away from the pleasurable things in life if the state of dissociation continues beyond when it’s triggered.

But dissociation doesn’t have to be that extreme in your life. As I mentioned, we all do it sometimes. You might be able to recognize that you have dissociated in the past if you think about it now. If you’ve ever broken your leg or been in any kind of traffic accident or something similar, you might have noticed that you didn’t feel immediate pain or panic. The situation was so extreme that you needed to distance yourself in order to cope. Once the extreme circumstances ended you probably started feeling the pain.


Considering the forms of dissociation out there like, Dissociative Identity Disorder about which DeviantSuccumbus has written some great posts (here &
 here) that explains it well, mine is pretty mild. I don’t have multiple personalities but I do seem to have an ego state. This is different from a dissociative identity disorder, as when ‘a person merely influenced by a dissociated ego state retains an observing ego, which is simply the capacity to observe and evaluate one’s self.’ (Strout, p. 91) Following up my previous post, Miss Lois pointed out that I was aware of what was happening but didn’t appear to be able to do anything about it.

When this first happened when I was thirteen it felt like everything was empty. Suddenly I had no idea who I was anymore. The way I can best describe how it felt was that I wasn’t present. I was incapable of responding automatically, like smiling. I even had to tell myself when to walk. It felt like I had to be the puppet master of my own body, which is funny as I apparently identify with being a puppet kink wise? I mean… MLSlavePuppet…

I have also repeatedly mentioned that I had/sometimes still have to check if I’m wet in order to know if I’m aroused. My feelings are often absent. Especially in the first years, it felt as if my ego state was the only one that existed; I thought that was me. When I realised it wasn’t me I started feeling scared of it. I pictured it as a dark shadow me whose only goal was to erase me, but of course, dissociation is originally meant to protect. My ego state has been an asset, though I’m slowly attempting to convince it that I’m safe now.

However, sometimes dissociating is still very useful as long as it happens in a controlled way. I can use it to overcome nerves to hold a presentation or meet a person I’ve never met before. I have used it to start out wearing heels in the past. Following the Trying to Orgasm with Clamps on my Labia post, I wasn’t able to stay ok for a few days after taking that smiling picture of myself and this sparked another conversation with Miss Lois about my dissociation. It’s quite interesting because while a session could sometimes take me out of dissociation (wrote about that in part 1: Trying to Dig up Feelings, Fighting dissociation and part 2: Body Writing to Recognise my Slave Identity) this particular session did the opposite and caused me to dissociate.

She asked me what I’d been thinking of in regards to the session and the overwhelming feeling and memory that I had was my worry about having dissociated and thinking that this meant I had done something wrong. It made me feel like I had failed because I thought I hadn’t handled and coped well with the pain, and therefore had, in extension not managed to do what she’d asked of me. Additionally, dissociating always felt like a failure to me. To me, it meant that I wasn’t strong enough to survive things on my own.

She asked me if, when I dissociate, I can cope with more and if I became a shell. I guessed so? I wasn’t sure because it didn’t feel like the I, the real me couldn’t cope with much more because it meant I wasn’t there; I had fled.

Miss Lois: “So when you dissociate when I use you, you hand over your body and retreat the part of you that would hold you back from serving properly?”

That sort of sounded right but I couldn’t really see what she said for what it was.

Miss Lois: “So even if it feels bad for you, do you think you could have coped without dissociating?”

It’s important to note that it has been a real learning curve for me personally and also was for Miss Lois about what dissociation meant or what happened exactly when it was triggered. I understand it much better nowadays but wasn’t that far yet back then.

Me: “I don’t know Miss. I don’t know how it works or what I should be able to cope with without dissociating.”

She said that she thought I was too hard on myself. She thought that when I dissociate while serving it became a way for me to serve even past my current limit and that it was a talent of mine rather than a curse. If I hadn’t I would have had to give up and take the clamps off but instead, I dissociated and handed over my body for her to use as she pleased. Instead of not serving, she concluded, I served more than anyone else could.

I supposed that was true, but worried about the aftereffect of dissociating. When I did (and do) I often start feeling suicidal, which is bad and makes me feel as if I become a burden to her and anyone else, while the initial reason for my dissociation at 13 was to ensure I wouldn’t hurt or be a burden on anyone else ever again.

Miss Lois: “You would have stopped with the task otherwise, which would have been another kind of burden.”

Me: “I guess that’s true Miss. That would have been worse.”

(Which is probably why I dissociated because I desperately didn’t want to fail the task.)

Miss Lois: “It is my decision to push you beyond the brink when I want to or not. And in a dissociative state, are there any limits for you?”

I didn’t know the answer to that. It didn’t make sense to me that there wouldn’t be a limit; there is a limit to everything. Yet, at the same time, it felt like I would have continued the task for as long as Miss Lois told me to. (Another reason why it’s very important to choose the right Dominant I guess otherwise imagine how dangerous it would be if someone abused this power!)

I added that dissociation didn’t make it any easier though. If anything it seemed to make it more difficult to keep on doing it.

Miss Lois: “But it is a different difficult. It is difficult to hand on to reality to understand and execute the task, not to execute the task. And did you feel the urge to take the clamps off more or less because of dissociating?”

It had felt like the urge to take them off and to leave them on had changed every few seconds or so.

Miss Lois: “Is that because you didn’t dissociate completely? Like oscillating between dissociating and clinging on?”

I supposed it was. It was my current theory, at least. I knew that when I had self-harmed in the past I couldn’t feel the pain as much compared to if I’d been present. Therefore, in theory, if I fully dissociated I should be able to cope with pain better.

She wanted to know if I had self-harmed in the past because I was dissociation or as a result of the dissociation. It was the former. I guess it was some sort of attempt to feel, which is also why people that suffer from depression might try and self-harm, to feel something other than the numbness. Additionally, when I dissociate I’m not myself and I would never self-harm if I didn’t dissociate. That’s also why dissociation can be dangerous for me, as it’s only then that I feel like I desperately want to kill myself.

This can be explained in the sense that, dissociation is meant to protect. When I break down, all the incredibly intense and negative feelings wash over me and they’re super overwhelming to the point that it’s paralysing. It’s feels as if there’s a whirlwind destroying my room while I sit in the middle of my bed paralysed from the internal pain I’m feeling. My mere existence is painful; breathing is painful; registering life and items around me is painful. I dissociate and if that’s supposed to protect me the answer to protect me from this terrible feeling is to take my own life. It’s a little bit of a broken system.

She asked me if I found it scary that she could make me dissociate. You’d probably think my answer is quite strange as it didn’t scare me. The only thing I felt afraid of was being able to fail. And the feeling of the fear was so strong that it overwhelmed me so I dissociated in that sense too.

I asked her if she had expected the dissociation and where she had meant to go with the clamps. She said that she hadn’t but thought it was an interesting effect. Again she said that she thought it was a talent of mine rather than a curse, which is also what my counsellor keeps on saying and I suppose it’s true; I just need to control it.

Miss Lois: “Being able to put you in that state feels very good.”

That surprised me. I was happy to hear that it made her feel very good but I didn’t understand why. She said it was because it gave her a lot of power over me, which I realise, of course, now. She added that she thought it would be interesting to explore me while I was in that state.

Evidently, I saw dissociation as a very negative thing and still do in a way, but I liked that Miss Lois saw something positive in every situation, no matter what it was. She said that she was trying to teach me to see myself more positively. She recognised that dissociation was something I struggled with but thought that the less I feared them, the less I would get into that state. We ended our conversation on that note.

Nowadays, or quite recently, really, I have been able to go less down the deep end when strong emotions wash over me and I dissociate. I am able to believe that this is just a moment that won’t stay, rather than only being aware of it, and it helps me come down from it sooner. It also means that it has less power over me nowadays, though I recently told my counsellor about a new trigger I discovered.

It’s a very strange trigger. It happens when I look out at the sea for example or am walking in nature. You’d think doing these things would be very peaceful but somehow it instantly causes me to disconnect from myself and then starts looking very strange; nothing seems normal. As of yet, we have no clue why this causes me to dissociate but I’m sure we’ll figure it out eventually.

Xx Marie Louise

Part of SB4MH topic on Dissociation

Previous post in from my journey with Lois: Trying to orgasm with clamps on my labia until I cried
Next post in from my journey with Lois: Licking Wasabi off My Stilettos

8 Replies to “Triggering Dissociation with a Task”

  1. Never Waste a Dirty Mind

    Dear Marie Louise,

    Thank you for another very interesting post. It answers my curiosity about the aftercare or debriefing you did with miss Lois after the binder clip task.

    As a dom, I can recognize what a rush it must be to know that you have the power to put a submissive into that dissociative state. It is, as you say, a power that is very dangerous in the wrong hands. You were lucky that miss Lois was an ethical and responsible owner for you.

    As somebody without mental health issues (if that is possible), I have never understood self harm. But if a person uses it to (intentionally) trigger to dissociation and escape the numbness and misery of a situation, then it makes perfect rational sense. It is no less destructive, but it makes sense. I can see why somebody would do it. That is new to me.

    I think it is a useful description that you have this out-of-body ego with no feelings, as you hand your body over to suffer and be used by miss Lois, when things get too painful or scary. It allows an outsider to understand what it is like, and that is otherwise so difficult or even impossible.

    I think it is a talent you have. One that it sounds like you have spent a lot of time developing. Not in the sense that you are faking dissociation, but in the sense that you are becoming able to control it and use it to help you get through difficult situations.

    You talk about the situations where you use it to do things you would otherwise be scared to do. I hope you can perfect this use of dissociation. And, of course, that you can stop feeling suicidal, when you dissociate. That is quite a high price to pay.

    Do you think you can get to the point where you can control your dissociation, so you can intentionally use it when you need it, without triggering negative thoughts and feelings along with it?

    And, back to the sexy stuff, after all, that is why we are all here! Did miss Lois intentionally make you dissociate again after this task? Did it become part of your dynamic? Or did it just remain a latent element of the power she had over you? That you both knew that she could do it and it was her right to do it, but she chose not to? And what about you, then and today, do you have a submissive urge to be pushed to the point of dissociation, or would you feel more accomplished, if you managed to complete a painful or scary task without dissociating?

    All the best,
    Henrik

    Reply
    • MLSlavePuppet Post author

      Hi Henrik,

      Haha yeah, I thought that would be an important one to add, but thought it deserved its own post.

      Honestly, I don’t think we could have even got to the point of me being triggered into dissociation like that if I didn’t know I could trust her. Of course, we’d known each other for quite some time by then and she was always very inquisitive. The majority of our conversations were just conversations rather than tasks.

      I hope I can learn to control it. It is something I have discussed with my counsellor many times and we believe it must be possible. There has been a positive change in that I can now often simply let it be and pass, without feeling the intense need to kill myself, which is an incredible improvement as I never though I’d ever get control over that.

      Maybe it’s never possible to control it completely though. If there’s a traumatic trigger it’s quite hard to get that out of the system, especially if you don’t know what the trigger is exactly.

      She didn’t know but I know that she could. However, I think we both agreed that it would not be safe or ideal to do it when I’m on my own, so to do it she’d have to be in my presence physically. I felt the submissive urge to be pushed that far by her because I think it’s both interesting and if that’s what she wanted then that’s my most important desire, to please her so long as it is safe for me.

      I don’t really care about how I fulfil a task as long as I complete it, if that makes sense. I don’t know if I’d feel the same about this with someone else and if they’d even want to go that far but time will tell I’m sure

      all the best,
      ML

      Reply
  2. May

    Wow this was facinating – it made me wonder if the daughter I wrote about recently has a similar thing now and then. She acts and seems to be able to become some one else on stage and then when she is not acting – on occasions – she seems a bit robotic as if she isn’t aware of how she is behaving – if that makes sense? I am learning so much today.
    Great post MLSlave
    x

    Reply
    • MLSlavePuppet Post author

      Thank you. The way I discovered this about myself was by reading a book: The Myth of Sanity by Martha Stout. I felt so disconnected from myself since this very specific moment/event when I was 13 and of course I had no idea what was happening and didn’t feel like I could convey to others what was happening either. It only suddenly made sense when I read this when I was 21? For me dissociation meant I was very aware of how I behaved. It felt like I became the puppet master of myself and couldn’t do anything without specifically telling myself to like smile or walk etc. But there are many different forms and I’m sure everyones experience is different. The book, for example, has an example of someone being in the pub with his friends, he hears something that triggers him (was someone raising their voice perhaps), which he is not aware of, and suddenly he is absent for a minute. His surrounding just think: oh he is absentminded, and he thinks the same, but the cause is from something ‘traumatic’ from his past. To him as a child, his mum shouting could have been traumatic. Trauma can be anything as it is very subjective. And then of course you have the major trauma’s that everyone knows about. So looking at this example, you don’t have to be in control like I am. Most people are very unaware of a shift that might be happening
      X

      Reply
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  4. melodyinsights

    A rather fascinating read here as you’ve discovered more about yourself and how dissociation affects you. Especially interesting to read how you’re learning not just to control it, but also to harness it for other purposes. I can sympathise with giving presentations. I’d say that my own variant of it is a learned behaviour stemming from hypnosis – I certainly couldn’t have started wearing heels in public without it

    Reply
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