This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 12 table of contents.

Depersonalization Disorders

A person suffering the dissociative disorder called depersonalization disorder feels unreal or cut-off from the environment, as if he or she has changed in some fundamental and mysterious way, becoming a different person or living in a dream.

What are symptoms of a depersonalization disorder?

One variety of depersonalization disorder involves out-of-body experiences or feelings of detachment from the body.

Charlotte D., a recently separated 19-year-old woman, was referred to an outpatient mental health service by her physician because she had experienced several "spells" in which her mind left her body and went to a strange place in another state....She had four episodes of "traveling" that had occurred during her waking state and had lasted for 15 to 20 minutes. She described her experiences as a dreamy feeling in which her arms and legs were not attached to her body and other people around her were perceived as zombie-like. Typically she felt dizzy and had pains in her stomach for hours after each spell. (Coleman, Butcher & Carson, 1984, p.222).

The DSM-IV manual noted that "Voluntarily induced experiences of depersonalization or derealization form part of the meditative and trance practices that are prevalent in many religions and cultures and should not be confused with depersonalization disorder" (DSM-IV, p. 488).

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