Current research on dissociation builds on a tradition dating back to Janet’s (1887) distinction between psychological phenomena, or psychoform dissociative symptoms, and bodily phenomena, or somatoform dissociative symptoms. FND is typically understood to primarily involve the latter (Nijenhuis et al., 1996; Pick et al., 2017; Vuilleumier & Cojan, 2011).
Explanations for why individuals with FND are experientially disconnected from their bodies are manifold: dissociation as a survival response to trauma; cultural, familial, or religious reasons; alexithymia (difficulty identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal); or impaired interoception (the ability to sense the internal states of the body). The most widely accepted contributing etiologic factor, however, is prior exposure to chronic stress and trauma.
Dr. Moenter talks about dissociation happening on a continuum from “spacing out” to out-of-body experiences and full dissociative states such as non-epileptic seizures. The healing process involves learning how to self-regulate dissociative states early so as to not fully disconnect from the present moment experience. The ability to stay present allows for a greater capacity to be mindful of changes in nervous system activation (FND symptoms).