The Sensation of Being Out of Body: Embracing a Profound Sense of Disconnect

The sensation of being out of body can be a deeply unsettling experience. It is often described as feeling disconnected from oneself, as if observing from a distance instead of fully inhabiting the physical body. This profound sense of disconnect can be linked to various factors, including trauma and the effects it has on the body and mind. In this article, we will explore the sensation of being out of body, its possible triggers, and how to heal trauma in the body.

The Sensation of Being Out of Body: Embracing a Profound Sense of Disconnect

The sensation of being out of body can manifest in different ways for different individuals. Some may feel as if they are floating above their own bodies, while others may experience a detachment from their physical selves and surroundings. This dissociative experience can be triggered by various factors, such as trauma, stress, anxiety, or even certain medications or medical conditions.

How trauma is stored in the body

What is trauma?

Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope. It can result from a single event, such as a car accident or assault, or from ongoing stressors, such as abuse or neglect. Traumatic experiences can leave lasting imprints on both the mind and body, and these imprints can contribute to the sensation of being out of body.

Trauma and the brain

When a person experiences trauma, the brain’s natural response is to activate the fight-or-flight response, releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. This response is essential for survival in the face of immediate danger. However, in the case of ongoing or repeated trauma, the brain may become dysregulated, and the body remains in a constant state of hyperarousal or disconnection.

What are some possible triggers?

The sensation of being out of body can be triggered by various factors, including:

1. Stress and anxiety: High levels of stress and anxiety can contribute to feelings of detachment from oneself and the surrounding environment. The body’s natural response to stress is often to shut down or dissociate, leading to the sensation of being out of body.

2. Traumatic memories: Memories of traumatic events can trigger the sensation of being out of body. These memories may be brought to the surface by specific triggers or reminders, causing a dissociative response.

3. Medication or medical conditions: Certain medications or medical conditions can induce feelings of dissociation or disconnection from oneself. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you are experiencing these symptoms to rule out any underlying medical causes.

How to heal trauma in the body

Healing trauma in the body requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of trauma. Here are some therapeutic approaches that can be effective in healing trauma:

1. Cognitive processing therapy

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and beliefs related to traumatic experiences. By challenging and reframing these thoughts, individuals can develop a healthier understanding and perception of the trauma, leading to increased self-acceptance and a reduction in dissociative symptoms.

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2. Prolonged exposure therapy

Prolonged exposure therapy (PE) is a form of therapy that aims to reduce the distress associated with traumatic memories by gradually exposing individuals to the thoughts, feelings, and situations that remind them of the trauma. Through repeated exposure, individuals can learn to process and integrate these memories, reducing the frequency and intensity of dissociative experiences.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy approach that utilizes eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation to help individuals process traumatic memories and alleviate the distress associated with them. EMDR has been shown to be effective in reducing dissociative symptoms and promoting healing in the body.

4. Somatic Experiencing (SE™)

Somatic Experiencing (SE™) is a body-centered therapy approach that focuses on the physiological sensations and responses associated with trauma. By slowly and safely exploring bodily sensations, SE™ helps individuals discharge and regulate the trapped energy and trauma stored in the body, leading to a greater sense of embodiment and reduced dissociation.

5. Certain types of talk therapy

Various types of talk therapy, such as psychoanalysis or psychodynamic therapy, can also be beneficial in healing trauma and reducing dissociative symptoms. These therapies provide a safe space for individuals to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to trauma, facilitating healing and integration.

6. A movement practice

Incorporating a movement practice, such as yoga, dance, or martial arts, can be helpful in reconnecting with the body and reducing dissociative experiences. Engaging in mindful movement allows individuals to cultivate a sense of presence and embodiment, fostering a deeper connection between the mind and body.

Next steps

If you are experiencing the sensation of being out of body or struggling with dissociative symptoms, it is essential to seek professional help. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can provide guidance and support in navigating the healing process. Remember, healing takes time, and it is important to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you embark on your healing journey.

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Understanding Dissociation: Exploring the Disconnect from Reality

Dissociation refers to an altered state of consciousness that involves a sense of detachment from oneself or one’s surroundings. It is a phenomenon that can occur in response to various factors, such as trauma, stress, or even certain medical conditions. This sub-article aims to delve deeper into the concept of dissociation and its impact on an individual’s perception of reality.

What is Dissociation?

Dissociation is commonly described as a defense mechanism that the mind employs to cope with overwhelming or traumatic experiences. It involves a disruption in the normal integration of thoughts, feelings, and memories, leading to a subjective sense of detachment from reality. The experience of dissociation can range from mild instances of daydreaming to severe disruptions in identity and memory.

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The Different Types of Dissociation

There are several different types of dissociative experiences that individuals may encounter. These include depersonalization, derealization, dissociative amnesia, and dissociative identity disorder (DID). Depersonalization involves feeling disconnected from one’s own body or experiencing a distorted sense of self. Derealization, on the other hand, refers to feelings of detachment or unreality towards the external world. Dissociative amnesia pertains to the inability to recall important personal information, usually following a traumatic event. Lastly, DID is a complex dissociative disorder where an individual displays multiple distinct personalities or identities.

The Causes and Triggers of Dissociation

While dissociation can occur spontaneously or as a result of medical conditions, it is most commonly associated with traumatic experiences. Trauma, including physical or sexual abuse, childhood neglect, or witnessing a distressing event, can disrupt an individual’s sense of self and lead to dissociative symptoms. Additionally, high-stress situations, such as accidents or natural disasters, can also trigger dissociation. Understanding the causes and triggers of dissociation is crucial in addressing and managing its effects.

The Role of Mind-Body Connection in Overcoming Dissociation

Dissociation not only affects the mind but also has profound impacts on the body. This sub-article explores the intricate relationship between mind and body in the context of trauma and dissociation, emphasizing the role of somatic approaches in promoting healing and recovery.

Somatic Experiences and Healing

Somatic experiences are centered around the belief that the body holds and processes traumatic memories. By engaging in various somatic therapies and practices, individuals can tap into the body’s wisdom, release stored trauma, and reintegrate their fragmented selves. Somatic Experiencing (SE™), a therapeutic approach developed by Peter A. Levine, is particularly effective in addressing the lasting effects of trauma by working with bodily sensations and allowing the body to complete its natural stress responses.

Embodied Movement and Expressive Arts

In addition to traditional therapeutic modalities, movement-based practices and expressive arts can also play a significant role in healing dissociation. Engaging in activities such as yoga, dance, or tai chi helps individuals reconnect with their bodies, release tension, and cultivate a sense of grounding. Expressive arts, including music therapy, art therapy, or journaling, provide alternative channels for self-expression and processing traumatic experiences.

Integrating Talk Therapy and the Body

While somatic approaches are crucial in addressing dissociation, talk therapy remains a valuable tool for supporting individuals in their healing journeys. Integrating body-centered techniques into traditional talk therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychodynamic therapy, enhances the therapeutic process. By encouraging clients to explore and express their bodily experiences through verbal communication, therapists can help bridge the gap between mind and body, fostering holistic healing and integration.

Understanding the Long-term Effects: Post-Dissociation Integration

This sub-article delves into the long-term effects of dissociation and the importance of post-dissociation integration. It explores the challenges individuals may face as they navigate their lives following dissociative experiences and offers insights into strategies and resources for promoting integration and well-being.

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Rebuilding Identity and Connection

Individuals who have experienced dissociation often struggle with a sense of fragmented identity and disconnection from others. The process of post-dissociation integration involves actively working towards rebuilding a cohesive sense of self and cultivating healthy relationships. This may involve developing self-awareness, practicing self-compassion, and seeking support from therapeutic relationships, support groups, or loved ones.

Developing Coping Mechanisms

As dissociation can be triggered by stress or trauma, it is crucial to develop healthy coping mechanisms to prevent dissociative episodes and manage their effects. Learning stress management techniques, grounding exercises, and relaxation strategies can help individuals stay present and regulate their emotions when faced with triggers. Developing a personalized toolkit of coping mechanisms empowers individuals to navigate their daily lives with greater stability and resilience.

Expert Insights and Resources

Engaging with expert insights and accessing relevant resources can be invaluable in the post-dissociation integration process. Seeking professional help from therapists experienced in trauma and dissociation is essential for receiving the specific support needed. Additionally, books, articles, support groups, and online communities dedicated to dissociation offer valuable information, validation, and a sense of belonging for individuals seeking to understand and overcome dissociative experiences.

FAQS – Frequently Asked Questions

1. Question: What is the sensation of being out of body?

Answer: The sensation of being out of body refers to a profound experience where an individual feels disconnected from their physical body and perceives themselves as floating or observing their surroundings from an external vantage point.

2. Question: What are the possible causes of the sensation of being out of body?

Answer: The sensation of being out of body can be triggered by various factors, such as sleep disorders, near-death experiences, certain medications, trauma or extreme stress, neurological conditions, or even specific spiritual practices.

3. Question: Are out of body experiences considered normal or pathological?

Answer: Out of body experiences, or the sensation of being out of body, can occur in both healthy individuals and those with certain medical or psychiatric conditions. While they can sometimes be associated with pathological conditions, they can also occur spontaneously or in certain mental states without any underlying disorder.

4. Question: Can the sensation of being out of body be replicated or induced intentionally?

Answer: Yes, certain techniques and practices, such as meditation, lucid dreaming, sensory deprivation, or the use of psychoactive substances, have been known to induce or enhance the sensation of being out of body. However, intentionally inducing such experiences should be done with caution and under appropriate guidance.

5. Question: How does the sensation of being out of body affect individuals?

Answer: The effects of the sensation of being out of body can vary among individuals. While some may find the experience fascinating or even transcendental, others may feel frightened or disoriented. Further research is needed to understand the psychological and neurological underpinnings of these experiences and their potential long-term impacts.

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