Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Depersonalization, Overview

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_343


One of the first clinical recordings of depersonalization occurred obliquely through the diagnosis of “shell shock” to soldiers during the First World War. Soldiers found wandering from battle, with no memory of their names or what had happened to them, were originally thought to have sustained organic injuries due to proximity to exploding shells (Vermetten, Dorahy, & Spiegel, 2007). Only later was depersonalization seen as a relatively common response to extreme stress and traumatizing conditions. More recently, depersonalization has been associated with childhood interpersonal trauma, particularly chronic emotional abuse and neglect. Depersonalization disorder has also been linked with recreational drug use, including cannabis, Ecstacy, and hallucinogens (Simeon & Abugel, 2008).

The experience of depersonalization is typically described as ubiquitous across cultures and is associated with prosaic life events as well as mental disorders. When understood as a mental...

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mental Health Scholar and PsychotherapistSan FranciscoUSA