top of page

Is hyper-focus a form of dissociation?

This question really hit me just now when I was thinking about the last few days.

I was thinking about how so many of us feel like we never accomplish anything, no matter how much gets done. For myself, I guess I had chalked it up to a combination of worth rooted in productivity which meant a need to continuously produce, and assuming I’d eventually reach some goal that felt… done?

I save… a lot of stuff. Especially academic things, probably because I have a lot more to show in that realm than the social - and this includes things like exams and papers I’ve written. Yes, WRITTEN. Ya girl is no spring chicken lol.


I’ve gone back and re-read things with absolutely no recollection of writing it. I mean, it sounds like me. Those were my thoughts I remember tossing around in the sticky spiderweb brain. But how TF did they get there on paper? Coherently?

I digressed, again.

This morning I was thinking about how many loose ends I’ve tied up in the last week, finalizing so many things on my list that I’ve been working on for awhile yet I sort of feel like I got nothing done? Even though a rational account of everything says much differently. But it was all a blur. I barely remember the last week. The hyper-focus was… heavy.

And one thing about me, when I have a short term deadline in sight (brief naturalistic stressor - put that term in your back pocket), I can turn those on like nobody’s business. I can block out the world entirely… to the detriment of, you know, things like hydrating myself.

In those moments though, I felt very present… it feels different than my normal dissociation yet the memories of all end up feeling the same. But that got me thinking, is hyper-focus just a different form of dissociation? Because let’s be honest, the mere definition basically asserts the need for some level of disconnect. Hang on, let’s get a definition:

“Hyperfocus, broadly and anecdotally speaking, is a phenomenon that reflects one’s complete absorption in a task, to a point where a person appears to completely ignore or ‘tune out’ everything else. It is generally reported to occur when a person is engaged in an activity that is particularly fun or interesting”

Okay, yeah. 'Completely ignore or tune out'… and this is usually not even really conscious for us, right? Which means… disconnect?

There is so much of my life that I vaguely remember… I’ve spent much of my life chasing academic/career goals that gave me a steady stream of these brief naturalistic stressors, which put me in these constant cycles of hyper-focus which were perhaps also a form of dissociation - just not the way I had ever thought of it before.

As per usual, I don’t necessarily have a huge point other than to share this realization and that, although I don’t remember a lot of sh*t because of trauma and dissociation, I think I also don’t remember a lot of sh*t because of this.

And with that, it’s 7:00am on Saturday… I’ve been up since 5:30 because Izzy wanted the bed back so thank you Izzy for these early morning thoughts.

Does anyone want to hear more about types of stressors and how I manage them based on their type?

Stay regulated,



bottom of page