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Dislocation, 2021

60 x 90 cm

Acrylic on canvas


Persistent dissociation is an extended separation from the traumatic event and the individual. This process may be part of a cognitive avoidance mechanism rather than an active behavioural avoidance. Research into the alterations of brain activity in people who experience dissociation has been conducted by taking MRI scans of these individuals while they listened to autobiographical narrative of traumatic events. Of the approximately 30% of individuals that experienced a dissociative reaction, the study noticed that the typical increase in heart rate was not present. Instead, there was increased activity in the medial frontal gyrus, anterior and medial cingulate, middle temporal gyri, precuneus, occipital areas and inferior frontal gyrus, largely thought to the be areas of the brain that control emotional recall, understanding and the attention to and absorption of information. Another study of patients specifically with dissociative subtype PTSD found an increase in the amygdala, responsible for correlating meaning to emotions and associations between memories and feelings, and the thalamus, responsible for relaying motor and sensory signals to the cerebral cortex which then organises the information gathered. This suggests that there is a somewhat conscious over-modulation of emotions and suppression of processing in individuals which experience dissociation because of a traumatic event.

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