Dissociation: A Survival Mechanism for Narcissistic Abuse Victims

The Psychological Escape Route: Navigating Dissociation in the Aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse

Mark Randall Havens
3 min readMay 29
As the woman stands disconnected, peering at the town below from the forest clearing, it mirrors how victims of narcissistic abuse often dissociate, observing their own life from an external perspective, seeking solace in the mental detachment from an overwhelming reality. Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Exploring the intricate connection between narcissistic abuse and the mind’s protective mechanism of dissociation, this article sheds light on the manifestations, implications, and effective management strategies to regain mental equilibrium.

When the mind finds itself in uncharted territories of psychological trauma, it has an escape plan — a complex defense mechanism known as dissociation.


Dissociation is a psychological phenomenon referring to the disconnection or detachment from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories, or surroundings. It’s a complex defense mechanism that the mind employs to protect an individual from overwhelming stress or trauma. In its essence, dissociation is an escape hatch, a means of psychological flight when fight or physical flight is not possible.

Dissociation is often observed in people who have endured narcissistic abuse. Narcissistic abuse involves emotional manipulation and exploitation, often leading to a toxic relationship where the victim’s mental health is significantly impacted. This article delves into the nuanced connection between dissociation and narcissistic abuse, its manifestations, implications, and methods for management.

Understanding Dissociation

Dissociation can range from mild, day-to-day episodes like mind wandering or ‘zoning out,’ to severe disorders like dissociative identity disorder (DID) or depersonalization-derealization disorder. These dissociative disorders represent an extreme and persistent form of dissociation, often linked to significant trauma.

In the context of trauma, dissociation is the mind’s way of creating psychological distance from an event that’s too intense to absorb all at once. It temporarily removes the individual from their current reality, providing a sort of ‘psychological breathing room.’

Narcissistic Abuse and Dissociation



Mark Randall Havens

Journey with Mark Havens: a soul guide in COPARENT's healing mission & the creative pulse of Dallas Maker Community. Transform, heal, and innovate with us.