Verb > Dissociate

Verb – Dissociate

Dissociate” has Latin roots that literally mean “to un-join,” or less literally, “to separate, to remove from companionship.”

To dissociate yourself from a group, or from things or ideas, is to cut yourself off from them: to separate yourself from them, and–literally or figuratively–to no longer keep them company or spend time with them.

And to dissociate two things is to separate them, to cut them off from each other, as if making sure they don’t keep each other company.

Part of speech:
verb, usually the transitive kind: “we dissociate this from that,” “they’ve become dissociated from it,” “he dissociated himself from them.”

Other forms:
dissociated, dissociating, dissociation, dissociative.

how to use it:
Although the word “dissociate” has been around in some form or another since 1611, it took on a psychological tone around 1890, when the psychologist William James wrote about people being dissociated, meaning, made up of more than one consciousness each. And, around 1994, we started hearing about dissociative identity disorder,” or multiple personalities. So, the word “dissociate” definitely still has that heavy, serious, psychological tone.

You might talk about people dissociating themselves from the ideas, groups, and movements that they no longer want to be connected to.

Or, talk about people dissociating something from something else. Here’s the Washington Post: “choices that are dissociated from costs or complexity.”

And if you talk about people simply dissociating, then you’re saying they’re disconnecting themselves from reality, or from their own bodies. Here’s Lady Gaga, discussing a serious trauma: “My whole body went numb; I fully dissociated.”

“It’s women like Marissa Mayer and Cheryl Sandburg who help the world dissociate technology from gender and encourage the next generation.”
— Sarah Lahav, Forbes, 9 March 2014

“The audience, deeply embedded in the girl’s subjectivity… (tries) to locate a stable perspective from which to judge the situation. Which is precisely what (the filmmaker) Ms. Decker withholds. Her scenes are collages of dissociated sounds and decentered images.”
— A. O. Scott, New York Times, 9 August 2018