Depersonalization Disorder: Lost Inside The Self Issue 1, May, 2014 - Page 13


Many sufferers of depersonalization often complain that their memories, which would have evoked feeling, seem to have lost the personal meaning they once had.

Studies have found the ‘factual’ aspect of the memory is preserved in DPD, unlike cases with ‘psychogenic amnesia’ while the ‘remembering’ component may become disrupted in some sufferers.

For many sufferers of DPD, autobiographical memories are remembered from a detached point outside the body. The memory is recalled and visualized as if it had been witnessed from the outside as a spectator, rather than through the person’s own eyes.

This type of memory distortion is called ‘observers perspective’ remembering. It has been shown to affect the recall of traumatic events, or situations, which were experienced as threatening


The disruption of time is a highly reported feature amongst DPD sufferers. Most frequently sufferers complain that recently experienced events seem to recede into an unknown remote past. For depersonalized people it may feel like they do not have any perception of time, time often does not unfold in the normal manner- past, present and future can seem hard to distinguish, as if they were all happening at once.

Mind emptiness

Sufferers of DP/DR also commonly complain of feelings of an empty mind, as if they did not have any thoughts.

The feelings of mind emptiness are likely to affect concentration levels, as many DP/DR sufferers complain of attentional difficulties, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by stimuli.

Surroundings (Derealization)

William-Mayer- Gross coined the term derealization in 1935. Most sufferers of DPD describe feelings of the world and their surroundings appearing unfamiliar.

They also report feeling cut off from the world around them, and of things around seeming ‘unreal’ like a movie or video game. Derealization commonly accompanies DPD, and its occurrence without depersonalization has been reported as extremely rare.

A surveyed sufferer from online forum describes derealization:

“Derealization is a feeling or perception of the world, where the world seems dream like or unreal in some manner.”