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The Healing Power of Dissociation

The Healing Power of Dissociation

Peace comes from letting go.  We encounter a paradox in our lives growing as children through adolescence into adulthood, where we recognize the importance of developing our ego stance in order to live within social constraints and cultural boundaries and to develop our own cognitive and character traits. Yet, for our mental health as young adults and later in life it is important to engage in practices that loosen our ego identification with the world and allow us to recharge our energetic core through flow states. 

These flow states are possible only to the extent that we let go of our ego and our more narrowly focused cognition, and allow for a fluid, integrative orientation with our surroundings. For example, when we engage in certain activities such as martial arts or athletics, there comes a time when your training becomes integrated with your participatory practice in such a way that the more you let go of the thinking part of your mind and let your body flow with the experience of what you have learned, the more on-point you are with your movements and your ability to anticipate the sequence of events to follow. There is an aspect of dissociation at play when one enters a flow state that allows for this integrative experience. We need to create moments in this type of flow zone in order to maintain strong energetic, physical and mental health as we age.

Ketamine infusion therapy proves to be an effective treatment for mental health precisely because of the dissociative effects that it creates regarding our ego stance. There is the neurobiological process that Ketamine infusion plays at the synaptic sites of the glutamate neurotransmitter system in the brain. And there is the ego dissolution that takes place in the deeper structures of the mind that studies have shown leads to more robust antidepressant effects in patients who report experiencing dissociation during an infusion. The process of breaking down the barriers that our ego so carefully constructs is dependent on many factors. One factor is, of course, the Ketamine dosage administered per session, which is why levels are titrated over the course of one’s treatment plan. Another factor is one’s state of mind and openness to experience when beginning a session. It is beneficial to understand the different types of dissolution one may encounter during a Ketamine infusion therapy to be mentally prepared.  Know that if you ever encounter an unpleasant sensation or revelation during your session, the best practice to fall back on is to breathe deeply and let yourself be curious about what you are seeing, feeling, or sensing. Let go of trying to stay in the driver’s seat and see where your journey takes you with childlike curiosity. 

There are four types, or stages, of ego dissolution, that one may encounter at varying times during the infusion treatment, or throughout the course of one’s treatment plan.

Empathogenic Experience is the first phase of ego dissolution that results in a more centered awareness of one’s body often with a sense of comfort associated with relaxing into the energetic core of one’s body. Ego defenses begin to relax and often experiences of empathy, compassion and love are described, as well as a sense of warmth as if wrapped by a blanket or feeling a sense of peace. Sometimes vivid colors set in along with a feeling of euphoria and lightness or a dreamy state of mind.    

Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) is the next phase of dissociation that results in a separation of mind from body with significantly reduced ego defenses. These experiences often lead to emotionally charged images of significant people or places in one’s life (past, present or future), sometimes mythologically significant or stemming from the deeper reaches of the psyche. 

 Near-Death Experience (NDE) is the third phase of a complete ego dissolution, complete loss of identity (psychological death) and experience of full disembodiment (physical death) as one may experience being a single point of consciousness in the universal fold. Or there may be a reliving of one’s actions from a moral stance, a judgment of self to the extent that one remains.   

 Ego-Dissolving Transcendental Experience (EDT) is the fourth and final phase of dissociation that results in the complete melting away of boundaries between one’s body and the environment, leading to a complete transcendence of matter and the spacetime continuum. Overall, at this stage of ecstatic state of being some individuals experience a sense of union with the universe, with the energetic ground of nature, or with a larger collective consciousness. This state of ego dissolution generally leads to a sacred awareness of our connection with the universe, or feelings of union with the divine.

Dissociation creates the fertile ground for changes in perspectives that provide a profound shift in attitude and approach to one’s challenges. The ability of our ego to ‘let go’ is a measure of mental health and a marker of resilience. The healing power of dissociation stems from integrating our energetic mind-body and soul. Learn more about Ketamine infusion therapy today.