Depersonalization Disorder: Lost Inside The Self Issue 1, May, 2014 - Page 9


Pierre Janet

Pierre Janet the French psychologist challenged the sensory distortion theory made by Krishaber. Janet who is also credited for introducing the words “dissociation” and “subconscious” into psychology terminology, considered depersonalization to be a manifestation of “psychasthenia”.

Many phobia’s such as excessive anxiety and obsessions do often accompany depersonalization. In relation to Krishaber’s theory, Janet argued that many patients suffering from DPD were in fact, normal from the sensory viewpoint.


William-Mayer-Gross, an Heidelberg psychiatrist, produced a paper titled “On Depersonalization” in the 1930’s. The paper reviewed theories, speculations and contained case studies of patients.

Mayer-Gross was the first to highlight the distinction between depersonalization and derealization, the two manifestations of what is believed to be the same disorder.

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud had something to say about depersonalization after he had experienced a vivid encounter of fleeting derealization while visiting the Acropolis during a trip to Athens in 1904.

“So all this really does exist, just as we learned at school.” 30 years later, at the age of 80, Freud analysed his experience in an open letter to writer Romain Rolland, Freud wrote:

“These derealizations are remarkable phenomena which are still little understood. These phenomena are to be observed in two forms: the subject feels either that a piece of reality or that a piece of his own self is strange to him. In the latter case we speak of ‘depersonalization’; derealizations and depersonalizations are intimately connected.”