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Lost in Time: Understanding Dissociation and the Experience of Losing Time

Feb 10, 2024

Dissociation is a complex and often misunderstood phenomenon that affects millions of people worldwide. Among its various manifestations, one of the most disconcerting experiences is losing time—moments or even hours passing by without conscious awareness or recollection. In this blog post, we'll delve into the intricacies of dissociation, explore how and why people lose time during dissociative episodes, and provide insights into coping mechanisms and seeking support.

Understanding Dissociation

Dissociation is a defense mechanism that the mind employs in response to overwhelming stress or trauma. It involves a disruption in the normal integration of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment. Dissociative experiences can range from mild detachment to severe disconnection from one's thoughts, feelings, or sense of identity.

Losing Time: The Experience

One of the hallmark experiences of dissociation is losing time. Individuals may find themselves unable to account for periods of time, ranging from minutes to hours. During these episodes, they may feel as though they are on autopilot, going through the motions without full awareness or recollection of their actions. Losing time can be disorienting and distressing, leading to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and even fear.

Causes of Time Loss in Dissociation

Several factors contribute to the experience of losing time during dissociative episodes:

  • Dissociative Amnesia: Dissociation can disrupt memory encoding and retrieval processes, leading to gaps in memory formation. During dissociative episodes, individuals may experience amnesia for the events that occurred during that time, resulting in time loss.

  • Altered Perception of Time: Dissociation can distort one's perception of time, making it feel either elongated or compressed. This altered sense of time can contribute to the feeling of losing time during dissociative episodes.

  • Fragmentation of Consciousness: Dissociation involves a fragmentation of consciousness, where different aspects of the self become disconnected or compartmentalized. This fragmentation can result in periods of time where certain aspects of consciousness are inaccessible or unavailable to the individual.

Coping Strategies and Seeking Support

If you experience episodes of dissociation and losing time, it's essential to prioritize self-care and seek support:

  • Grounding Techniques: Practice grounding exercises, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or sensory grounding, to anchor yourself in the present moment and reduce dissociative symptoms.

  • Establish Routines: Establishing daily routines and rituals can provide structure and stability, reducing the likelihood of dissociative episodes and time loss.

  • Seek Professional Help: If dissociation and losing time significantly impact your daily life or functioning, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. Therapy, particularly approaches like trauma-informed therapy or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can help you understand and manage dissociative symptoms effectively.

Dissociation and losing time are complex experiences that can have profound effects on individuals' lives. By understanding the underlying mechanisms of dissociation and implementing coping strategies, individuals can learn to navigate dissociative episodes and reclaim a sense of agency and control over their lives. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available. Reach out to supportive friends, family, or mental health professionals for assistance on your journey toward healing and recovery.

Dissociation: Where does the time go?

Calling all mental health professionals in Central Ohio! Don't miss out on the upcoming Learning Luncheon hosted by Teal Saguaro Wellness, featuring presenter Jonathan Miller, LPCC-S, of Miller Counseling LLC. Join us on February 29, 2024, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM for an insightful presentation titled "Dissociation: Where does the time go?" Gain valuable insights into this complex phenomenon and discover effective strategies for supporting clients experiencing dissociation. With Jonathan's extensive experience in trauma treatment and a focus on trauma-related issues, this luncheon promises to be both informative and enriching. Reserve your spot today for an opportunity to learn, network, and grow in your practice. We look forward to seeing you there!

Holistic Mental Health


Mental Wellness




Fragmentation of Consciousness

Mental Wellness

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