Book (p)Review: Depersonalization Disorder

I remember, at the funeral of a loved one, shaking hands, accepting hugs, saying “thank you” – when suddenly my brain gave way.  I couldn’t speak, couldn’t think, had forgotten how to respond to comfort.  It was the lowering of The Bell Jar, a glass wall between me and the rest of the world (including my husband and children), and lasted sporadically for about 8 months.

For me at that time, and at occasional stressful times since, depersonalization has descended.  I felt numb and separate. I felt no joy, no connection, and no interest.  For me it was a part of grief or depression – for others it can be a part of panic or anxiety disorder.  Some develop depersonalization as a result of trauma.  Most inexplicable are those instances in which depersonalization begins for no apparent reason, and stays for weeks, months, or years.

Common Symptoms

  • Derealization – feeling like you’re living in a dream or that everything is 2-dimensional
  • Detachment from surroundings – feeling indifferent to situations and people around you
  • Detachment from personal relationships – feeling emotionless towards others
  • Robotic – feeling like you are a robot, like your body isn’t your own
  • Body distortion – feeling like your body or parts are distorted (smaller or larger)
  • Fear of going crazy – having a phobia or constant fear of “going crazy” or “losing your mind”
  • Lack of sensation – lacking normal feelings of sensation and pain
  • Spontaneous OBEs – having spontaneous moments of “floating above one’s own body” and seeing oneself act without having control over one’s actions

Here is the American book: “Overcoming Depersonalization Disorder: A Mindfulness and Acceptance Guite to Conquering Feelings of Numbness and Unreality” by Katharine Donnelly & Fugen Neziroglu (2010)

Here is the British book: “Overcoming Depersonalization and Feelings of Unreality: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques” by Anthony David, Dawn Baker & Elaine Hunter (2013)

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