Story telling is something extremely powerful. Stories are used as an escape, a connection, or a memory. In “How To Tell A True War Story”, by veteran and author Tim O’Brien, stories were used to help keep the author sane after fighting in a brutal war. In “Selections from Reading Lolita in Tehran”, written by Azar Nafisi an author and activist, Nafisi explains how escaping reality through works of fiction helped her keep her individuality and sanity during a time of great struggle in her homeland of Iran. Opposing these two authors ideas is Martha Stout’s, a clinical psychologist, “When I Woke Up Tuesday Morning, It Was Friday”, by scientifically examining her patients experiences to explain the phenomenon of dissociation. Stout’s definition of dissociation was described in a way that it has varying levels, from slight to monumental, and how it disrupts people lives and changes their sense of self. In all three of these pieces it is clear to see that dissociation is used differently, and has different effects on each scenario. Dissociation is often linked to healing, but it is not a method of healing, it is a method of coping with tragedy. People utilize different aspects such as imagination and fiction as tools to aid their dissociation, but in the end they are still forced to come back and face the harsh reality of their lives. The true question is if dissociating helps protect or if it harms the delicate sense of self. This essay will explain how these tools, of imagination and fiction, are used to shield the person’s sense of identity, and whether dissociation is helping them or harming them.
The mind is fragile, so when it breaks it ‘heals’ in different ways, but it is never truly healed. In Stout’s work she describes many different patients who suffered from dissociation. In her piece she makes it clear that the mind is fragile, and that most likely when it breaks it cannot be fixed. The mind is much like glass it is strong and fragile; but once it is broken there will always be cracks left behind. Stout wrote,
While she was being abused, Julia developed the reaction of standing apart from herself and her situation…. But the part of herself consciousness that she thinks of as her self was not there; it was split off, put aside, and therefore in some sense protected. And because her self had not been there, her self could not remember what had happened during much of her childhood (Stout 389).
Julia, like many of Stout’s examples, was forced into a dissociative state by her mind. Though she did not have to suffer as much emotionally during the times of trauma, she also lost a lot of herself. As an adult she remembers practically nothing of her childhood, and continues to dissociate even though there is no additional trauma. This loss prevents Julia from ever truly knowing herself, and she will continually be pulled back into her mind throughout her life due to her minds’ ‘shield’. Julia’s case is not a common occurrence, and it is...