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Dissociation & Awareness

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Our society is all about conditioning. From earliest childhood, parents are pushed to 'make' their children behave in certain ways.

Some aspects of conditioning aren't meant to be harmful. For example, teaching a child not to touch a hot stove protects her even though it is a form of conditioning.

But many forms of conditioning are harmful because they limit what we are consciously aware of. This limiting of our conscious awareness creates an outer silence that in turn creates inner pressure and conflict.

In abusive homes, one of the most common areas of suppression is that of reporting abuse, telling what is said behind closed doors and telling when the child has been frightened, hurt, neglected or intimidated.

Each time a child is forced to remain silent when she is abused, it creates inner tension. If the inner tension is too strong, she will need to create an inner escape valve. One type of escape valve is to dissociate.

Maybe, for example, it isn't Kriss who is hit or threatened by her parents. To create distance between herself and the unrelenting abuse, she may decide that Stacy is the one who is being hit or threatened. She might decide that Tommy is the strong one who can 'take a beating.' She might decide that Tina is the one who goes without dinner.

Since she cannot separate herself from the abuse in any physical way, creating inner personalities can provide a sense of distance at least from the most intense aspects of the abuse, as well as take down some of the overwhelming sense of fear and pain of the moments of abuse and neglect.

Alice Miller, author of many books on awareness, including Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, calls those who practice abuse tyrants, and says "Those addicted to power—the tyrants of the world—pay (for their actions) with the lives of others." (page viii)

Why are tyrants allowed to continue practicing such draconian measures? Again, according to Alice Miller, because, ". . ..there are many people in this same society who absolutely do not want to know the truth." (page ix, emphasis Miller's).

The real issue, and one of the strongest indications of the hidden value of people who dissociate is that society is running from itself, from its own deepest fears and feelings.

I agree with Miller when she says that our deepest conflicts can only be resolved by "experiencing, articulating, and judging every facet of the original experience. . .." (page 1)

Though this blog can only scratch the surface of this deeply embedded pattern, the silence that is enforced when children are abused not only damages the child. It damages the abusers and society as a whole.

Silence is never the answer. The pattern of covering up messes, not 'airing dirty laundry' as I was taught as a child, only brings more pain to children who are abused and to society as a whole.

The solution is disclosure, no matter the cost. Often the attempt to hide mistakes or abuses creates situations that end up being far worse than the original abuse.

Children are acutely aware of their surroundings. To say they aren't is yet another bit of evidence of conditioning on a societal level. When brought into the light, the choice is clear: Take responsibility for your actions. If you make a mistake, own up to it.

Paying the price in the moment is a lot like doing the dishes after breakfast instead of waiting a week and struggling with a stinky mountain of filth.

The changes we need to make as a society need to be made in each moment. I urge you to step up to your life moments with integrity, courage and honest awareness. By doing that, we will be creating an atmosphere of awareness and gradually cleaning the mountain of reeking silence society has created.


Miller, Alice: Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, Meridian Publishing, New York, NY, 1993.


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