Depersonalization Disorder and Childhood Trauma

Depolarization disorder involves a disturbance in one’s perceptual experience and sensory distortions. Patients with suffering from depersonalization disorder can experience a detachment from their own self and body. The feeling of observing their own thoughts and behavior from the outside has been reported by some patients, like an out-of-body experience (Maldonado, 2007). According to some studies, as many as 50 % of people will experience some short symptoms of depolarization, but not enough to cause big disruption or to be considered a disorder (Schlozman & Nonacs, 2008). The disorder usually starts in late adolescence or early adulthood and it almost twice as common for women compared to men (Schlozman & Nonacs, 2008).

It has been carried out a research to look at the role of childhood interpersonal trauma in depersonalization disorders. The research included 49 participants with depersonalization disorder and 26 participants without the disorder, they were all of comparable age and gender. They took the Dissociative Experiences Scale and participated in a Childhood Trauma Interview. The results of the study showed that childhood interpersonal trauma was highly predictive of depersonalization disorder and that emotional abuse, both in total score and in severity was the best predictor for the diagnosis of depersonalization (Simeon et al., 2001). The researchers therefore concluded that childhood interpersonal trauma – especially emotional abuse, can have an impact on the pathogenesis of depersonalization disorder.

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Maldonado, J. R. (2007). Dissociation. In Encyclopedia of Stress (2nd ed.). Academic Press.

Schlozman, S. C., & Nonacs, R. M. (2008). Dissociative Disorders. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry, 481–486.

Simeon, D., Guralnik, O., Schmeidler, J., Sirof, B., & Knutelska, M. (2001). The role of childhood interpersonal trauma in depersonalization disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry158(7), 1027–1033.

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