Pain-determined dissociation episodes

David A. Fishbain, R. B. Cutler, H. L. Rosomoff, R. Steele Rosomoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives. Dissociation disorders are a group of conditions characterized by a disruption of integrated function of consciousness, memory, or perception. The purpose of this report is to describe the impact of increased pain levels on the genesis of two types of dissociation disorders, dissociative fugue (DF) and dissociative identity disorder (DID), in patients with chronic pain (PWCP). Design/Patients/Interventions/Outcome Measures. From November 1992 to July 2000, 2 DID and 4 DF patients were identified from 2,544 consecutive PWCP evaluated and/or treated at the University of Miami Comprehensive Pain and Rehabilitation Center. The salient features of these six dissociation PWCP are presented. All four DF PWCP completed a dissociation experience scale first at the time of identification of the dissociation disorder (with chronic pain) and one alleging their experiences with dissociation predevelopment of chronic pain. Results. Frequency percentage for dissociation for this population was 0.235%. For all four of the DF PWCP, dissociation episodes began after the onset of chronic pain. All six (100%) PWCP described or associated their episodes of dissociation to times when their pain would increase. Mean dissociation scale scores for the four DF PWCP were 1.4 ± 1.11 pre-chronic pain and 20.53 ± 16.82 at time of identification of the dissociative disorder (with chronic pain). Conclusions. The frequency percentage for dissociation within PWCP is small compared with psychiatric populations. There may be an etiological association between the development of dissociation episodes and the development of chronic pain and/or increases in chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-224
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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