“Robbed of my life”: The Felt Loss of Familiar and Engaged Presence in Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

In: Journal of Phenomenological Psychology
Elizabeth Pienkos Psychology Department, Clarkson University Potsdam, NY USA

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Louis Sass Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University NJ USA

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Depersonalization/derealization disorder (DPDR) is classified as a dissociative disorder in the DSM5. It is noteworthy that the symptoms of depersonalization and derealization are commonly found in many other psychological disorders, including schizophrenia spectrum disorders, while phenomenological features of schizophrenia are commonly found in DPDR. The current study attempts to clarify these apparent similarities via highly detailed phenomenological interviews with four persons diagnosed with DPDR. The data revealed four interrelated facets: 1, Loss of resonance, 2, Detachment from experience, 3, Loss of self, and 4, Commitment to reality. These facets point to a felt loss of immediate and familiar engagement in experience as a basic organizing Gestalt which permeates the various symptoms and signs of our participants with DPDR. Close consideration of this disruption allows their experiences to be more easily distinguished from those of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders.

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