According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), Dissociative Disorder is “a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity or perception of the environment. The disturbance may be sudden or gradual, transient or chronic.” One of the predominant characteristics of this disorder in general and, specifically of Dissociative Amnesia, is the inability to recall important personal information usually due to a traumatic event, and not ordinary forgetfulness.
This paper is an attempt to discuss some of the various approaches that define dissociation, and will particularly focus on the debate of whether this phenomenon is an adaptive or maladaptive coping mechanism triggered during and after stressful or traumatic situations and during everyday life events. Dissociative states have direct clinical implications in the goal setting and treatment of patients during the therapeutic process. Therefore, some techniques for determining therapeutic goals and effective treatment will be discussed as well.