More on DP/DR (a bit of wild conjecture)

Part one of this discussion here.

I’ve been having an interesting day and spoken to both a friend and my husband about my experience and what I’ve read about it. It seems anyone can have this experience and most people have at some point or another. When experienced among “normal” people it tends to be fleeting or experienced in association with a trauma. It can be a defense mechanism. I’ve googled “depersonalization, defense mechanism” and there are quite a few results, but they are all articles that you have to pay for in medical journals. My friend who is a therapist has seen it in clients who have experienced trauma. She has not perceived it as pathology in her clients but instead a healthy process that blunts painful feelings temporarily and allows for a slow process of healing at which point it resolves itself.

Interestingly enough this friend of mine herself experienced periods of depersonalization as a young child. She did not fear it and enjoyed the dreamlike quality of her experience. It was transient, but she experienced it often. She knew it was not “normal” but did not judge it and therefore did not experience it with fear.

My experience this morning lasted about three hours, then went away for a couple and has now returned. It is not a constant state. In light of what my friend shared, I am trying to accept my current experience as simply my reality right now and not be afraid of it. This is allowing me to (almost) enjoy it as a somewhat pleasant altered state. Of course, I am not able to completely rid myself of the opinion that it is not normal and there is an underlying fear that it could get worse. But right now in and of itself it is not altogether unpleasant.

In addition, I’ve spoken with my husband who also reports having experienced it as a child into his teen years after waking from dreams. His reports of the experience are quite dramatic and classic “textbook” as linked to the page in my last post. He was quite disturbed by its occurence. Some of these more classic symptoms are described below: (my husband by no means experienced all the the below–he simply inspired the search for further description)

Emotional, Physical, and Psychological Effects often associated or accompanying Depersonalisation and Derealisation:Many of these bizarre and morbid sensations listed below might be classed as pseudohallucination, that is, they are not concrete. Instead they are attempts to describe inner subjective experiences and therefore have and ‘as if’ quality. Although strictly speaking some of these experiences lie outside the definitions of derealisation and depersonalisation, they are often described alongside them.

With derealisation, objects can seem somehow diminished or distorted (metamorphopsia). Other metaphorical descriptions of visual experiences include; blurred vision, tunnel/corridor vision, sensitivity to light (photophobia), false changes in lighting conditions, i.e. sensations that the light is fading, the contrast is changing or the hues have shifted slightly.

Voices sound faint or distant, (as though ‘filtered’ through an auditory ‘fog’), or loud and echoing.

Perceived alteration of limb size and shape, often a swelling or thinning can be felt, as can changes in the texture of the extremities, as though they are made of cotton wool, or as if your bones have become thinner or hollow.

Changes in experience of time are common, almost as though there is a delay between an event happening and its perception. Sometimes it feels as though time is standing still, with the sense of future lost.

Body image
Body doubling or out-of-body feelings can be experienced often as if you are viewing the world from above or behind, or as if your body is misaligned from its normal position, i.e. you might experience a sinking sensation as though your legs are beneath ground level. Actually seeing a double of yourself (autoscopy) is a class of hallucination that is distinct from, although it may rarely accompany, derealisation.

Feelings are dull and blunted and the capacity to experience most emotion, (pleasure, love or hate) is lost (de-affectualisation). Paradoxically this can be intensely frightening. Anhedhonia is also experienced, a hollowness characterised by loss of drive and vitality, personality or power of imagination. These feelings are also characteristics of depression.

Other physical sensations
Dizziness, faintness and unsteadiness on the feet are common and are often mistakenly diagnosed as ear infections or cardiac problems. Dry mouth, muscle pain and tension (particularly across neck and shoulders) stooping (difficulty in standing erect), headache, upset stomach and nausea, and loss of appetite are often seen, a result of stress and depression.

The above was taken from a file on one of my groups. There is no reference to it’s source so I cannot lend it any more credibility than my validation of it through listening now to my friend and husband and reading about it at length in discussion on withdrawal boards. If this continues to fascinate me I will attempt to do a more thorough research, but like I said most references on google seem to be linked to medical journals not available to the public or they refer to much of the above information but not in as clear or concise a fashion.

More from the file from the group:

Who experiences these feelings?
As a transient phenomena, to different extents, just about everybody, including healthy adults and children, will encounter these odd feelings. Anyone who is emotionally disturbed, fatigued, frightened or stressed is also prone to derealisation in particular.

I find this above piece and what is written below of particular interest.

If the person has induced derealisation deliberately and in a controlled way, (I.e. through meditation or drug usage), then the experience can be one of detached calmness and enlightenment.Repetition can elicit depersonalisation, for instance; meditation involving repeating a mantra or concentrating on an object, certain kinds of dancing, and even Yoga. Some research conducted into depersonalisation has apparently used these activities to cue episodes of derealisation. Consequently, people who practice repetitive rituals and meditation in order to achieve ‘enlightenment’ or ‘cosmic ecstasy’, may actually be triggering depersonalisation as opposed to transcending an Earthly paradise.

I have spent a lot of time with meditators and have myself participated in meditation retreats. I know I have certainly experienced these so-called “enlightened” moments. It certainly never crossed my mind to interpret them as anything other than positive. But in retrospect, the experiences were not completely unrelated to what I am experiencing now. The difference is context and interpretation.

I’m not assuming that all experienced states of altered consciousness by practitioners of meditation are in fact simply depersonalization. That would be grossly presumptuous. But I have no doubt that it is sometimes the case.

Okay…I’ve done enough conjecturing. This is kinda fun!

6 thoughts on “More on DP/DR (a bit of wild conjecture)

Add yours

  1. Gianna,

    Very interesting topic here today –

    Your therapist friend – I don’t even know her, but like her already –
    ‘a healthy process that blunts painful feelilngs temporarily…….slow process of healing…..

    She sounds like a good therapist – seeing the trauma and pain as the issue – a healthy person inside of it……

    This is such a key element – ie, vs and ill ‘person’ – more than semantics here – gets to the crux of what recovery is – a process – the person inside whole – helping that person see themselves as whole, and the pain as a process of the whole person coming into actualization of self – the trauma from the outside – the healing – slowly from within……

    This is so diametrically opposed to our convetional model – ‘acceptance’ of a disease state – insistance on ‘fixing’ the person – compliance with meds to make the brain ‘work right’……

    You’re on to some good learning here – very exciting stuff….

    I think that a good therapist can be very helpful – as long as they see the whole person inside – broken, but whole nontheless – not shattered – beyond repair – but, a body-mind in search of healing……..don’t mean to ramble…..

    The other parts – to sensory ones you list – I believe that these connections to the primary ways we communicate with our world in the physical sense are so closely bonded to the ways we connect in the ‘pscyhe’ that they come into contact……….

    In other words, the mind-body is one unit in many ways……personally, I am beginning to become a believer in the more ancient chinese (traditional view) here – our hair stands on end when we are frightened, we get lumps in our throats when we are frightened, throats dry when we stand up in front of a group to give a speech……

    Connections with past events – traumas – these things can not only get trapped in our psyche, but in the physical body as well – using the meridians, these things can be released – ie, allowed to move out of the body – released – as we do when we let go in a spiritual sense, as we experience when we deeply forgive and release the person who has harmed us…..

    Now, I’m really rambling – this topic got me very motivated to say some of what has been on my mind lately – appreciate the forum here…..

    Lastly, can you imagine if the psych hospitals of today (maybe not the same brick and mortar, but the same structures of decades ago) were replaced with some of this information – people encouraged to research – encouarged to believe in the body-mind’s ability to heal – a spiritual journey of recovery incorporated into the model…….with nobody needing any ‘fixing’ – only the opportunity to learn – to discover, and to heal – to truly recover…..

    I’m ready to see such a place – really –
    Good piece for discussion today Gianna – as always –


  2. hi this post is very intresting i suffer with dp and dr i have funny vison acheing muscles and tingling i have been so stressed out that it could be something else and ive probley got anxiety aswell thanks

  3. Honey’s Mom,
    I think it’s safe to assume that anti-depressants frequently induce these states. In the most dramatic and tragic cases leading to the suicides and homicides committed by those afflicted. This is again, conjecture on my part, but the idea was introduced to me by a mother who thinks her daughter was probably afflicted by DP when she committed suicide. It makes sense to me. It is for this reason that if someone is put on anti-depressants severe characterlogic disturbance should be closely monitored. To reassure you, these kind of radical situations usually occur soon after introduction to the anti-depressant and during precipitous withdrawal. Neither situation pertains to your daughter at this point.

  4. Gianna,
    cool stuff 🙂
    I am going to share your thoughts and information on DP. I think Honey has “been there” acouple or more times. I know it will be comforting for her to put a “name” to it.
    thanks for sharing this
    Amy- Honey’s mom

Leave a Reply

Powered by

Up ↑