Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

Derek2, modified 8 Months ago at 10/29/23 8:25 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/29/23 8:25 AM

Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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I was reading this book about Dipa Ma. Someone asked her how things had changed for her as a result of all her practice. She replied that "now it feels like I'm floating, detached" (pp. 145-6).

Does anyone else think that sounds like self-induced dissociation? Is that the end-result of Mahasi-style noting -- dissociation from one's immediate experience?
Ed Evans, modified 8 Months ago at 10/29/23 1:10 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/29/23 1:10 PM

RE: Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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I don't think what she's referring to is the same as a dissociative disorder, although the parallels between that and the kind of experiences people often report on the path are striking. There really needs to be some good research done on this.

It's an early-mid path phenomenon which still relies on the strong feeling of being a witness to things. Later on, as the objects continue to diminish, the feeling of being in a witnessing position to them also diminishes
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 6:50 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/29/23 8:20 PM

RE: Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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Derek2
I was reading this book about Dipa Ma. Someone asked her how things had changed for her as a result of all her practice. She replied that "now it feels like I'm floating, detached" (pp. 145-6).

Does anyone else think that sounds like self-induced dissociation? Is that the end-result of Mahasi-style noting -- dissociation from one's immediate experience?


There are various similar phenomena that get grouped under the term dissociation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociation_(psychology)
Dissociation is a concept that has been developed over time and which concerns a wide array of experiences, ranging from a mild emotional detachment from the immediate surroundings, to a more severe disconnection from physical and emotional experiences. The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis.

And as far as I know there is no concensus on what awakening is. At least that is what I read the last time I asked.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/shinzenyoungmindfulnesscommunity/posts/6347765318604824/?comment_id=6352720284775994&reply_comment_id=6356032024444820

(Sorry the link doesn't work I pasted it correctly but the forum software seems to be mangling it. If it did work I think you would have to be a memeber of the face book group to read the post.)

So I think it is like the glass half empty or half full. People will say what they want.

One thing to consider is if a condition is considered a "disorder" or pathological it is because it intrerferes with functioning in daily life or it causes some sort of distress or (dis-ease=disease). But there is room for opinion and interpretation in that also.

But I think the important point is that labels are used for a reason. What do you get from using that label? Is there some aspect of dissociation that might help people on the path? Is there some aspect of awakening that might help people with dissociation disorders? The symbol is not as important as what it represents.
Nath Eris, modified 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 5:01 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 4:59 AM

RE: Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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"Dissociation" has several meanings, but there are at least two for which I can see some parallels between it and meditation.
(Not vipassana meditation specifically, at least not most forms of it, but that might be just my own experience).

Dissociation can mean, feeling separate from what's going on in the mind.
That's a clear direct consequence of certain forms of meditation and seems closely related to insight into not-self.
If it's all going on on its own, then any sense of doing it is an illusion, so what one identifies with gets reduced over time to the observing and experiencing.

Dissociation can mean, having not one fixed identity/personality but rather a group of several.
That can be a consequence of that first kind of dissociation. It's closer related to insight into impermanence. Reduced identification with specific thoughts can make it easier for other parts of the mind to come into awareness.
Dukkha is occasionally described as friction between different parts of the mind, and if the mind works more like a hivemind than like having one part in charge, friction seems to reduce a lot.

I'm finding it useful to use these comparisons, as they provide another framework for understanding what's going on.
Particularly for the second comparison there are various models that don't consider it a disorder, ranging from plurality/tulpamancy to shadow work of various kinds, to Internal Family System Theory. For the first comparison, I recall that Shinzen Young once said that DP/DR (a strong form of feeling separate from the mind) can happen occasionally as a result of insight meditation and that the best way out is through, as what feels so bad about DP/DR is certain remnants of identifying that resist the dissociation.

Disclaimer: I'm talking only from what I heard and a few glimpses I had of that in my own experience; I'm neither a psychologist nor a particularly advanced meditator.
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Chris M, modified 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 6:51 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 6:51 AM

RE: Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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Jim - hope you don't mind that  I fixed your link to Facebook/Shinzen Young's group.

- Chris M
Nath Eris, modified 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 3:56 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 3:55 PM

RE: Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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The Facebook page linked is sadly still only accessible if one has a Facebook account.
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Ben V, modified 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 6:28 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 6:28 PM

RE: Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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Dissociation involves a profound dread and anguish to that which one is dissociating from. It is ''so dreadful'' that the mind reacts defensively by dissociating. The mind just doesn't want to experience what is going on. It's a very, very different flavour than meditative non-attachment, even though the written definitions make them look like they could be the same thing. 
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 8 Months ago at 10/31/23 10:10 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/30/23 10:07 PM

RE: Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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Does anyone else think that sounds like self-induced dissociation? Is that the end-result of Mahasi-style noting -- dissociation from one's immediate experience?

Well, I think the answer is kinda yes and no (it depends on who you ask). You see very realized people talking about a deep sense of deattachment from their experience, that it's occurring by itself, there is no doer, etc. But they also will say it's very liberating. However, if you go and talk to a therapist or whomever about that experience, they would probably label it as some type of dissociation. Now is the dissociation a person with PTSD feels the same as a deeply enlightened person? Almost certainly not. And if you check out this big survey most of the people who are mystical and ended up going to therapy said they got tagged as dissociative and said it wasnt helpful. Specifically

Those who were not involved in a religious or
spiritual tradition that contextualized the
transition to PNSE often felt that they might
have acquired a mental disorder. This analysis
was not based on mental or emotional distress.
It was typically arrived at rationally, because
the way they were experiencing reality was
suddenly considerably different and, in most
cases, different from everyone they knew.
Many of these participants sought professional
mental health care, which no participant
viewed as having been beneficial. Clinicians
often told them their descriptions showed
similarities to disassociation, depersonalization
and derealization, except for the positive nature
of the experience.
Ben Sulsky, modified 8 Months ago at 10/31/23 10:07 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/31/23 10:07 AM

RE: Vipassana as self-induced dissociation

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My experience with vipassana is the increasing intimacy of experience.

Sometimes the afterglow of concentration states can feel "floating, detached"", but I'd be tempted to paraphrase this as meaning that there's a lot of space, tranquility etc.

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