Depersonalization vs Dissociation

Recently I’ve seen a good article on depersonalization disorder floating around. Like many people, I’d never heard much about depersonalization, despite the fact that I have experienced it for extended periods of time in my life. But when I read this description, I felt both a sense of overwhelming familiarity and also some serious confusion. Because what they were describing was something I had been told was called dissociation.

So just to clear things up, I have researched the differences between depersonalization and dissociation so that you don’t have to. Both of these are surprisingly common experiences that don’t get a lot of airtime and could use more attention. So let’s clarify terms and learn! Huzzah!


You can find this full post at Aut of Spoons.

7 thoughts on “Depersonalization vs Dissociation

  1. Vicki says:

    What if you experience both but in depersonalization they tell you to look at a bigger goal or see things in a positive light.. I already do that but sometimes my brain still shuts down as if I’m far away vision can be blurry or I hear talking but don’t comprehend what’s being said. Also I’ve been diagnosed with skitzoeffective disorder as well as major depression. Anxiety disorder to name a few.. Any suggestions?tired of therapy

    • oj27 says:

      Do you think it would be helpful when you’re feeling far away to focus really immediately on something that’s happening in front of you? I think it helps to have a strong sensation, like picking up an ice cube or jumping into water to bring myself back to what’s going on. It could also help to look into mindfulness and meditation if you haven’t already. I’m not sure how much help depersonalization strategies will be if you’re so dissociated you can’t focus on anything, so maybe focus on the dissociation first?

  2. jvwl says:

    thank you that was helpful

  3. Sarah says:

    I don’t know if disassociation could be described as a daydream… That seems to really discount the actual disorder because an actual episode is quite frightening and very real unlike a daydream which you can usually control or is just a pleasant distraction for a minute or a few seconds.

    • oj27 says:

      Hm, that was how it was explained to me by a therapist who specializes in psychoeducation related to borderline personality disorder. I think the point that I was trying to make is that there is a continuum, and on one hand you have an experience that is benign but when it’s extreme it is terrifying. I have absolutely experienced extreme dissociation that lasted for months at a time and I in no way want to discount what other people have experienced. I do appreciate the feedback though, and I can see how trying to explain it in a way that makes it understandable can also make it seem less serious.

  4. anon. says:

    While these definitions are extremely helpful to my understanding, I’m still confused which is more aligned with what I experience. When in these moments, I do things and don’t remember having just done them, so I end up repeating the action (for a simple example, such as re-making a sandwich despite having just done that), or having to check multiple times that I have done it. So I’m doing things and don’t feel aware that I’m doing them, and I sometimes say things but feel detached from the experience, and don’t know what I said… my responses feel automatic yet foreign.

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