Coping with Pain Through Disassociation?

A dissociative state is not the solution to pain. You can do it — just detach from the individual part of your being where the pain is abiding. But there is another way.

If you dissociate from the part of self that is in pain, that part of self does not disappear; it goes underground and will appear again in some form. There is no resolution or healing, just escape.

And when one learns dissociation, it is soon applied in every part of life, leaving one alone and disconnected, even from one’s self. A dissociative person loses the sense of “I”, and then can’t take responsibility. This passivity is a weakness that makes life in the world untenable.

There are other coping methods that work better.

  1. For example, knowing that love and hate are both emotions of connection, the prisoner can feel, through love, pity for the torturer, who will surely experience in himself, through hate, a reflection of what the prisoner experiences. The torturer will see in the prisoner’s eyes that he knows; it is inescapable.
  2. Or one who knows that when hatred is expressed, hatred is spent, could accept the violence directed toward oneself as a relief value to spare others. I know a woman who, as a child, would wait by the door so that when her drunken father came home he would take out his self-hatred on her rather than on his wife. She accepted his beating to protect the others.
  3. Some saints have endured severe beatings by knowing that their body is the body of humanity. As the body experiences hate in one place, it is also experiencing love in another. Incorporating both, one is hurt and healed simultaneously.

Modern spiritual teachers are teaching the attachment of love rather than the detachment of dissociation. Hazrat Inayat Khan: “We cannot be detached, we are never detached. Life is one and nothing can separate it. Detachment is only an illusionary aspect of life. There is no such thing as detachment in truth. How can there be detachment when life is one!”

Blessings on your meditations,

Puran Bair 
Chancellor, The University of the Heart


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