CPT View of Depersonalisation

What is depersonalisation?

In cognitive principle theory depersonalisation can be viewed as a dysfunctional state of the Observable self. The observable self occurs when the conscious mind deliberately chooses not to think and enters the neutral state within the Task Positive Network. [TPN Neutral]. This is a mindful state and triggers the Default Mode Network to enter the creative mode [DMN Creative mode] where the subconscious mind reveals experiences or creative ideas that the conscious mind that it was not previously aware of. It creates deeper awareness.

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However, depersonalisation is where the mind enters the observable state, but is locked in the conscious TPN and has no control over the mind or the body. This is a defensive mechanism to protect the shadow and the ego from a real or perceived overwhelming threat.

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Posted by lizzie.coopersmith a person with depersonalisation.

Firstly, it is important to point out that depersonalisation should not be confused with an identity crisis. An identity crisis implies that you have a sense of self, but you’re just not sure who that self is yet, or who you want that self to be. Depersonalisation, on the other hand, is the total lack of any sense of self at all. Wikipedia defines it as ‘unreality in one’s sense of self’. It is like watching yourself performing actions, and feeling that you have absolutely no control over what you’re doing, even though you know what you’re doing, and can see yourself doing it. You just feel completely dislocated, like all your limbs are alien and don’t belong to you. You aren’t really there. You’re just sort of existing, but there’s no you. You have no anchor; the very core of your being has totally vanished. Speaking is especially strange, because your voice doesn’t sound like it belongs to you. You know what you’re saying, but you aren’t connected to it. They’re your words, but it feels like some other voice is speaking them. On top of this, depersonalisation very often causes one to feel disconnected from others. You might be looking at someone you know very well, maybe a family member you live with, and you recognise them and know the memories attached to them, but it’s like they’ve lost their meaning. You know who they are, but they no longer feel the same to you.

You can see why this is very difficult to explain. You’re there but you’re not, you exist but you don’t, you know who people are, but you don’t. The worst thing is the looks you get from people when you try and explain it to them. That alone is enough to make you feel that you have totally and utterly lost it.

So, why does depersonalisation occur?

Depersonalisation, as awful as it may be, is actually a defence mechanism, which protects the most important part of you: your ‘self’. By dislocating the ‘self’ from the physical body and its actions, your body is actually protecting your core being from further harm. Although it can occur as a disorder (depersonalisation disorder, or a dissociative disorder) in its own right, depersonalisation is most commonly the result of very high anxiety levels. When anxiety levels reach such a high point, the body basically decides to ‘depersonalise’ in order to prevent the ‘self’ from being damaged by even higher anxiety levels. In theory, that’s rather clever, but in reality, depersonalisation is so distressing that all it does is cause more anxiety, which in turn makes the depersonalisation worse, which in turn makes the anxiety worse. It’s a vicious cycle.

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