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What is the difference between psychosis and dissociation?


Psychosis involves a garbling or scrambling of one’s mental representations of external reality. The psychotic jumbles together distinct elements (e.g. she sees a connection between her recent break-up and the thunder-storm that is now occurring) and gives undue weight to connections that actually do exist (e.g. she is right to believe that her mother is angry with her but wrongly infers that her mother is going to kill her). Dissociation does not necessarily involve such distortions; it involves a suppression of the emotional accompaniments of one’s representations of the world, resulting in a stated of ‘disconnectedness’ or ‘dissociation’, but does not necessarily involve a warping of those representations themselves. In fact, dissociation diminishes the likelihood of such distortions, since it disarms those representations by robbing them of emotional force and therefore makes it unnecessary to disarm them by altering them.

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