This item is only available as the following downloads:
DEPERSONALIZATION: CHANGE IN THE SENSE OF
SELF IN NORMALS
ELIZABETH KIRKLEY BEST
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The author wishes to thank her committee for their help in the
design and preparation of this study. The following people are included:
Dr. Elizabeth Altmaier, Dr. Corbin Carnell, and Dr. James C. Dixon,
chairman. For statistical and computer programming advise, the assistance
of Dr. William Froming and Maria Delgado has been greatly appreciated.
Pat Converse is noted for her help in subject collection. Special
mention must be made here of Dr. James C. Dixon whose aid has been
invaluable. Sincerest thanks and appreciation are offered for his
valuable time, advise, patience, editorial assistance, wisdom and
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. . . .... .
ABSTRACT . . ... .
I INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW . .... .
Description . ........
Characteristics of the Depersonalized Patient ......
Conditions in Occurrence of Dp .. ......
Normals. . .
Theories ....... ...
Statement of the Problem .
II METHOD . .
Subjects . .
Procedures and Materials .
Statistical Design .
Hypothesis for Part I.
Hypothesis for Part II .
III RESULTS . ..
Part I . .
Part II. . .
IV DISCUSSION . .
V CONCLUSION . .
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
CONSENT FORM . . .
EPQ (ADULT) . . .
APPENDIX: THE ITEMS OF THE INVENTORY .. ...
DEPERSONALIZATION QUESTIONNAIRE .. ...
. . 12
. . 18
. . 25
. . 27
. . 28
. . 32
. . 32
. . 33
. . 34
. . 36
5 SUMMARY OF STATISTICAL RESULTS . ... 63
6 FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS. ..... . 65
7 EXAMPLES OF ACCOUNTS OF DEPERSONALIZATION. ... 68
BIBLIOGRAPHY. . . .. .. .70
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ..... .. ... ....... ... .. .72
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Master of Arts
DEPERSONALIZATION: CHANGE IN THE SENSE OF
SELF IN NORMALS
Elizabeth Kirkley Best
Chairman: James C. Dixon
Major Department: Psychology
Depersonalization as an area of research has provided many
conflicting results. In non-clinical, normal groups persons who
experience depersonalization have been difficult to distinguish on
demographic and personality variables from those who do not report the
experience. This study attempts to elucidate some distinguishing
characteristics in these two groups.
One-hundred-twenty subjects (sixty male, sixty female) were
administered the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), Coan's
Experience Inventory, and a questionnaire on depersonalization (Dp). A
follow-up funneled interview helped to determine true-positive accounts
of the experience.
Approximately 15% of all subjects gave accounts of depersonali-
zation. Female subjects reporting depersonalization were found to have
greater aesthetic sensitivity, greater openness to unusual perceptions,
greater openness to hypothetical ideas, greater openness to
unconventional views of reality and greater indulgence in fantasy than
those not reporting depersonalization.
Males who experienced depersonalization scored significantly higher
on the neuroticism scale of the EPQ than non-reporting males. Men who
reported depersonalization showed greater aesthetic sensitivity, greater
openness to unusual perceptions, greater openness to unconventional views
of reality and greater indulgence in fantasy than non-reporting males.
No demographic variables yielded significant results.
Subjects reporting depersonalization with varying frequency were
compared on demographic and personality factors as well as variables
relating to conditions, duration, attitude toward depersonalization and
time of occurrence. The only personality factor which reached significance
among frequency groups was the extraversion scale for females which
pointed to significantly higher scores for those reporting low frequency
of Dp occurrence.
Clarity of mind at the time of the experience was moderately
positively correlated with frequency of report as was attitude. Attitude
and duration of the experience were moderately negatively correlated.
Attitude and clarity of mind received a low positive correlation. The
possibility of differences in abstraction level of the self concept
between those who experience depersonalizaton and those who do not is
INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW
Williams James in discussing the self pointed to an interesting
Whatever I may be thinking of, I am always at the
same time more or less aware of myself, my personal
existence. At the same time it is I who am aware;
so that the total self of me, being as it were
duplex, partly known and partly knower, partly
object and partly subject, must have two aspects
discriminated in it, of which for shortness we may
call the one me and the other 'I.' (James, 1890,
This dichotomy of the reflective and prereflective state of self is
essential to the phenomena of depersonalization (Ambrosino, 1975).
The literature describing depersonalization phenomena has been scarce
when considering its frequency as clinical and normal phenomena. It
is an inherently difficult concept structurally, and while it has
been described at some length in the psychiatric literature, deperson-
alization has eluded a clear definition and structural understanding.
At the same time, the phenomenon may very well hold a key to a clearer
understanding of the self, for it is at the very core of the subject-
object dichotomy discussed above.
Depersonalization involves a change in the awareness of self,
often accompanied by a feeling of unreality. Mayer-Gross (1935)
quotes a definition by Schilder which is relevant to this dis-
cussion, although probably more descriptive than definitional.
Depersonalization is a state in which the individual
feels himself changed throughout in comparison with
his former state. This change extends to both the
self and the outer world, and leads to the individual
not acknowledging himself as a personality. His
actions seem to him automatic. He observes his own
actions like a spectator. The outer world seems
strange to him and has lost its character of
reality. (Mayer-Gross, 1935, p. 104)
Two distinctions arise which will be useful in this dis-
cussion. They are changes'in self, which shall be referred to
specifically as depersonalization (Dp), and changes in the environ-
ment, which shall be denoted as derealization (Dr). Sedman (1970)
makes a clearer distinction still by indicating the change is in
the awareness of the self and the awareness of the world in the
direction of feelings of unreality; this direction will be dis-
cussed later. As Ackner (1954) pointed out, this change often
exhibits an unpleasant quality. At this point, it should be
noted also that Dp occurs by itself and accompanied by Dr, and that
Dr may occur without the occurrence of Dp. Roth (1959) noted
just under half his patients felt derealized. Reiterating,
changes in perception of self refer to Dp; changes in personal
perception of the enviornment refer to Dr.
Descriptions and limits of clinical Dp vary greatly from author
to author. Four salient features of Dp commonly agreed upon are a
feeling of change; a feeling of unreality; a feeling of unpleasantness,
even distress at the experience; and a lack of delusion (Ackner, 1954).
Other often cited characteristics are metaphorical communication,
differences in clearness and range of consciousness, increased intro-
spection, lack of feeling or emotional affect, disturbance of memory,
spatial changes, temporal changes, and body changes (Mayer-Gross, 1935).
These characteristics will be examined separately.
Descriptions of the Dp experience are as varied as the approaches
used to discuss them. Workers in the field vary as to what phenomena
they will or will not accept as evidence of Dp. It will be helpful to
note, when dealing with literature in this realm, the individual
researcher's definitional range of phenomena since some researchers
insist upon more strict criteria than others.
A prominent finding in many persons' descriptions in the meta-
phorical communication of the phenomena due to a felt inability to
adequately express the depersonalization experience. This quality
was specifically noted by Mayer-Gross (1935) in his patients' descrip-
tions. Myers and Grant (1972) have described the communication mode
as possessing an "as-if" quality. Other authors have noted this
peculiarity as well when reviewing Dp descriptions (Noyes and Kletti,
1976). Indeed, vivid imagery is often noted in these descriptions
(Ackner, 1954; Mayer-Gross, 1935; Noyes and Kletti, 1976).
Clearness and range of consciousness receive more attention in some
accounts of Dp. Mayer-Gross (1935) felt that for short term episodic Dp,
it was possible that some clouding of consciousness could occur; but in
chronic Dp experiences, clouding of consciousness was highly unlikely
as persons with chronic Dp often function well in daily life; a propo-
sition unlikely in a more pervasive nebulous state. He felt that perhaps
a "narrowing of consciousness" was occurring in some instances. Myers
and Grant (1972) in their study of college students found many instances
of Dp in normals in hypnogogic and/or waking states. Sedman (1966)
found differences between persons experiencing Dp during clear states
and persons experiencing Dp in altered states. In the clear state he
found more women, lower mean age, and greater frequency of Dp. Clarity
of consciousness during Dp, though, is a largely contested attribute of
the phenomenon (Sedman, 1970).
Increased introspection and self-awareness is a commonly noted
aspect of the phenomenon and one of its manifest features. Schilder
placed self-observation at the core of the experience (Mayer-Gross, 1935).
Roth (1959) found a large degree of self-scrutiny and self-preoccupation
in 45% of his depersonalized subjects. This exaggerated self-awareness
was pointed to as the major distinction between Dp and schizophrenia
because in the Dp experience there is a retention of insight as to the
strangeness of the situation. In the Dp patient there is a notable lack
of delusion (Myers and Grant, 1972). The person with Dp is more aware of
the atypical nature of his experience than is the psychotic.
In some instances, a lack of feeling or emotional affect is
evident. Mayer-Gross (1935) found a lack of feeling apparent in all
of his 26 accounts of Dp. He further noted that a paradox exists, as
the patient feels distress in the very process of loss of affect.
Roth (1959) found some distress (agorophobia) at leaving familiar
surroundings in association with reports of Dp. Roberts (1960), working
with normals, found almost half of his Dp subjects to complain of a loss
of feeling. Sedman and Reed (1963), though, argued that a lack of
feeling was a distinctive category versus "true" depersonalization;
they chose the stricter sense in their study.
A disturbance of memory has been implicated in Dp particularly by
those theorizing an organic basis of Dp, Mayer-Gross most notably (Ackner,
1954, mentions others). Mayer-Gross (1935) held that memory disturbance
might be responsible for the entire syndrome. This would likewise
account for a loss of "feeling of familiarity," a constant comparison
of the former "rooted" self with the depersonalized self. Some patients
in fact cannot remember the former self state at all. There is also
some indication of a disturbance in picturing (Mayer-Gross, 1935).
Body changes is a contested category of description but is generally
accepted as an aspect occurring in some instances of Dp. Roth (1959)
mentions the onset of Dp often comes after waking from a half sleep
preceded by a person's awareness of bodily discomfort. By bodily changes
is generally meant, though, mild to severe disturbances in perception
of body parts. Mayer-Gross found this in 12 of 26 cases. There was
a complete range from a feeling of weakness to a feeling of complete
loss of the body. Psychogenic analgesia was found in the affected
area in a few of the persons. One might feel, for example, that
one's head had changed in size, shape, or form. Both the head and
limbs are mentioned as often-disturbed sites. Ackner (1954) cites
arguments against inclusion of bodily affects which maintain that these
are delusional happenings, and that they do not coincide with the
accepted view of Dp as a non-delusional state.
Spatial and temporal changes have been considered as aspects of
Dp but because of the low incidence of such, they are not always included
in the Dp syndrome by all authors. When space is mentioned, it is often
in terms of distance and remoteness of the world, and a lack of depth.
Roberts (1960) found only one subject of 23 reporting this. Eight of
the 26 of Mayer-Gross's patients reported temporal changes. Time was
seen as a very slow or reported as non-existent--a "timelessness" in an
indescribable fashion. Noyes and Kletti (1975) found a marked degree
of this timelessness in near-death Dp. Once again, Roberts (1960) found
only one indication of this in 23 reports.
An interesting and enlightening study on temporal disintegration
and Dp has been offered by Freeman and Melges (1977). Thirty-seven
subjects with acute mental illnesses were tested via questionnaire
in regard to Dp (defined as self estrangement and body image diffusion)
and temporal disintegration (impaired goal directedness and temporal
indistinction). Psychotic patients scored significantly higher than
non-psychotic on measures of Dp (p < .025), and temporal disintegration
(P < .05). No diagnostic, sex, or age differences were found. Dp and
temporal disintegration were correlated at r = .66, p < .001, Body
image diffusion and temporal disintegration showed a correlation coef-
ficient of .51 (p < .001). Results were interpreted as demonstrating
that fragmentation of personal time and experience of depersonalization
went hand in hand, as the undermining of time undermines the con-
tinuity of self and might therefore render it unrecognizable.
Characteristics of the Depersonalized Patient
The incidence of Dp is higher than one might expect in normal
populations. Dixon (1963) found roughly half of a sample of college
students reported some evidence of Dp. Roberts (1960) noted approximately
one-third to experience Dp, although at the time he felt this figure high.
Findings on age of onset are diverse but most seem to center iin
the 20-35 year old range. Mayer-Gross (1935) found the average age of
onset to be 26.6 years with all but 8 patients out of 26 between 20 and
30. Of the 8, 2 were under 20 and 6 were between 30 and 39. Fleiss,
Gurland, and Goldberg (1975) found the age range for Dp to be 20-59 in
their sample. Roth (1959) noted an onset in the late 20's with a peak
later after 45. Roberts (1960), working with college students, found
an onset of age of approximately 13. Sedman and Reed (1963), on the
other hand, found a mean age of 39 with a range from 19 to 60, but one
must keep in mind the higher mean age of this group.
Sex differences are somewhat questionable. Although early on a
preponderance of women was thought to be the case, some new findings
have cast some doubt upon this. Mayer-Gross (1935) found 20 women in
his group of 26 Dp patients. Myers and Grant (1972) found a statis-
tically significant sex difference favoring women. Roth (1959) found
two-thirds of his Dp reports to have come from females. However,
negative findings abound. Roberts (1960), Dixon (1963), and Fleiss
et al. (1975) found no preponderance of women in their samples, nor
did Sedman (1966).
Abnormals and normals differ in regard to frequency and duration.
Normals mostly exhibit brief episodic experiences of Dp, but long
lasting periods (chronic Dp) are sometimes reported. Mayer-Gross (1935)
and Roberts (1960) both note the suddenness of onset. In Roberts'
sample of normals, attacks varied from lasting momentarily to as much
as 2 days length. Clinical cases are the ones in which longer duration
is usually the case, causing the person to seek professional help.
Diagnostic categories of clinical descriptions of Dp vary over a
wide range of "illnesses." Mayer-Gross (1935) observed anxiety and a
tendency to faint. Roth (1959) felt approximately 60% of Dp-experiencing
patients had mild obsessional symptoms and that as a group, they were
more dependent, immature, routine-bound, and anxiety-prone. Likewise,
obsessional traits and depression were thought by Sedman and Reed
(1963) to be salient in the personality of the Dp patient. (Some of
these findings will be discussed later in conjunction with theoretical
positions.) Roth (1959) found 54% of his patients to exhibit
"depressive coloring." Greater incidence of Dp was observed by Myers
and Grant (1972) in both men and women who scored higher on the Eysenck
Personality Inventory neuroticism scale. Davison (1964) observed
patterns of EEG and saw a slight, between-episode increase in frequency
of slower rhythms, and a greater increase of slower rhythms during an
episode. Diagnoses observed were schizophrenia, endogenous depression,
temporal lobe epilepsy, and one case of mild phobic anxiety. Mayer-
Gross (1935) found evidence of hypomanic characters, schizoid person-
alities, obsessional personalities, endogenous depression, schizophrenia,
hysteria, and neurasthenia.
This diversity of diagnoses suggests that Dp might be usefully
viewed as a symptom common to a number of diagnostic categories or even
independent of diagnosis. Fleiss et al. (1975) studied the relative
independence of Dp-Dr across diagnostic categories using the data
collected on 866 patients in the United States-United Kingdom Diagnostic
Project (1972) consisting of 442 in New York and 424 in London. Age
range was 20-59 years but was otherwise representative of general
admissions. The project groupadministered a700-question structured
interview to each patient to determine current mental state within 2-3
days of admission. A diagnosis was determined for each patient by at
least 2 project psychiatrists. Interviewers and observers showed high
agreement on the presence of Dp-Dr; on a sample of 37 patients, there
existed a .91 intra-class correlation coefficient. Agreement between
an interviewer and a psychiatrist who rated taped interviews stand
at r = .68 for a group of 24 patients. The total sample was divided
into the first 500 and the second 366 patients. A factor analysis was
applied to the first group and cross-validated on the second.
The descriptive factors emerging from both groups were "feelings
that things are unreal; that people seem to be acting a part; that the
patient is not really a person; and that he seems unreal when he looks
in the mirror." Correlations between Dp-Dr factor and other factors
were insignificant. The largest shared variance between factors was
depression at 6% followed by phobic anxiety at 5%. Not even 1% of the
variance was attributed to diagnostic differentiation. Fifteen percent
of the patients had had Dp-Dr experiences during the month prior to
admission. This varied slightly by age with those between 20 and 39
reporting 19%; 40 to 50, 10%.
In short, this study finds a "relative independence" of Dp-Dr
from other symptoms and diagnoses. No association with sex was found,
as in Dixon (1963), but a reduction in report of the phenomena as a
function of increasing age was noted. No strong correlation with
anxiety or depression was found which stands in opposition to Dixon's
findings. Methods may have played a substantial role in the differences
as Fleiss and associates obtained data by means of a more comprehensive
structured clinical interviews, while Dixon's data was based on
The above discussion of personality and diagnostic categories
would seem to indicate, then, no one stereotypical candidate for Dp.
Conditions in Occurrence of Dp
Depersonalization occurs in a wide variety of situations, in some
cases appearing as a response to those situations. Ackner (1954) cites
several studies finding Dp in LSD intoxication and temporal lobe epilepsy.
Roberts (1960) found Dp occurring in fatigue following great effort,
danger, or mental strain. Myers and Grant (1970 hinted at fatigue as a
backdrop for Dp. This idea of Dp as a reaction to a greatly stressing
situation is largely akin to Roth's impression of Dp and the "calamity
syndrome" which will be discussed in the theoretical portion of this
Along this line, Noyes and Kletti (1976) have found interesting
accounts of Dp-Dr experiences in persons confronted with life-threaten-
ing danger. They describe Dp experiences as phenomena occurring in
many instances as a reaction, perhaps an emotionally protective reaction,
to situations which could be considered as near-death. The elements
appearing in the experience include an altered temporal perception,
absence of emotional feeling, a feeling of unreality, attentional
differences, detachment, loss of volition, a "life-flashed-before-my-
eyes" memory, and ineffability. Sometimes a mystical experience was
Excerpts of individual experiences were included, drawn from a
study of 104 persons experiencing life-threatening situations. Often
a feeling of transcendence from the body is included, with the "transcended
self" viewing the body from which it is transcended. The transcendence
also appeared to affect the nature of the temporal and spatial contexts,
in which time and space did not seem to exist for the subjects in any
familiar way. Limitations seemed removed.
The near-death experience was divided into 3 categories: resist-
ance, review, and transcendence. A person faced with death will make
all attempts to survive when that survival seems even remotely feasible.
A review of the important events in one's life often comes next, and
takes place in a seemingly long period although the actual time elapsed
is usually seconds. When the impending danger is realized as in-
escapable, paramount serenity and sometimes joy is experienced. This
transcendent phase may be largely akin to Freud's "oceanic feeling."
A sense of truth pervades this final phase, and a few subjects identified
their experience as God. Noyes and Kletti also recognize a similarity
of descriptions with Maslow's "peak experience."
Following these close encounters with death, 52% of the subjects
said their attitudes toward death had altered (mostly in the form of
losing their fear towards death), and that death had become integrated
as a part of their lives. A "rebirth" or heightened awareness of
one's existence was experienced among many of these persons.
Noyes, Hoenk, Kuperman and Slymen (1977) compared a group of
accident victims and a group of psychiatric patients. Thirty-one per-
cent of the victims and 42% of the psychiatric patients reported Dp.
A factor analyzed questionnaire was distributed to subjects. Psychiatric
patients reported more mental clouding items. Victims reported more
"hyperaltertness" items. Derealization was correlated for accident
victims (r = .55) and patients (r = .38). Accident victims reported
fewer characteristics of Dp than did psychiatric patients (yl = 3.3 vs.
Y2 = 4.7). Wtih regard to psychiatric patients, the relationship between
Dp and anxiety was significant, with reports of high levels of anxiety
going with high reports of Dp items (X = 12.05; p < .01). Reports of
panic in this group were associated with high reports of Dp items as
well (X = 10.68; p < .01). It was noted that unlike psychiatric
patients, accident victims experienced Dp transiently. Noyes et al.
conclude that Dp in their groups may be a reaction to danger either
physical or emotional.
Depersonalization phenomena have been in several instances found
in normal groups, most notably investigated among college students.
Roberts in 1960 undertook a study of Dp phenomena in college students.
Of 57 students, 23 were chosen by Roberts as having written descriptions
of authentic Dp experiences. Selection was subjective but reliable
because of the opinion of a second professional rater. This sample
included 2 groups of psychology students and one of philosophy students.
Among the true positives (those descriptions selected as authentic), 18
were female, 5 male; males predominated among the false-positives.
Negative replies were approximately normally distributed between males
and females. Differences in report of Dp between males and females
however did not achieve statistical significance. Mean range for true
positives was 21.35 + 3.06 years.
Nineteen of the true positive group showed Dp, 14 showed Dr
(described earlier in this paper), 10 exhibited a loss of feeling,
5 exhibited some temporal disorder, 2 mentioned visual or spatial
changes. In 4 cases, either Dp or Dr were mentioned as occurring alone.
Four students mentioned episodes as having occurred only once, 3 or
more years previously. Seven reported their experiences as diminishing,
12 counted them as current possibilities. One student noted an increase
in the experience.
In a group of older persons studied by Roberts, approximately
the same proportion of persons experiencing Dp was found (13/37). Age
of the group was 39.5 + 8.64 years. This finding is in contrast to that
of Mayer-Gross (1935), who reported an infrequency of Dp phenomena in
this age group.
Roberts (1960) noted that the observed proportion of normals
experiencing Dp in his study was high and not indicative of the general
population. He posited that perhaps "brief Dp as a normal experience
does occur in a proportion of young, intelligent and reflective
individuals." Roberts felt the normal experience of brief episodes of
Dp was in contrast to an abnormal, persistent state. However, other
researchers have established a similarly high incidence among normals
(Dixon, 1963; Myers and Grant, 1972; Sedman, 1966).
Dixon (1963) attempted to investigate Dp and its relationship
to introversion-extraversion and anxiety. A questionnaire was dis-
tributed to an introductory university-level psychology class consisting
of 69 males and 58 females mostly in the 18- to 21-year-old bracket.
Instructions were to answer "yes" or "no" to a variety of items relative
to self-experience. Upon answering "yes," further inquiry was made as
to whether it had occurred in the past year and how often. Items
included experiences of Dr, "self-estrangement," self-identity, body
changes, and so on, as well as items not commonly associated in the
Dp syndrome. A 9 item "lie scale" was included. Guilford's Inventory
of Factors STDCR was used to test introversion-extraversion while
Taylor's Manifest Anxiety Scale was used as a measure of anxiety.
A large cluster of correlated "self-alientation" items was found
with 2 smaller clusters of mystical and hallucinatory experience. Items
common to the 3 clusters were deleted from the "self-alientation"
factor. On the basis of scores on this refined factor, about 45% of
the students were judged as probably having experienced Dp during the
previous year. No correlation was found between Dp and introversion-
extraversion for men; for women only a low correlation (r = -.22).
Anxiety was correlated with Dp in women (r = .54), and in men (r = .32).
Similar findings appeared in a small replication. These data are
highly similar to the Roberts (1960) data dealing with a normal college
In 1966, Sedman further explored Dp in normals with 50 subjects:
27 medical students and 23 staff members. Twenty-six males and 24
females were included with a mean age of 26.5 years and a range of
The HOQ questionnaire (Hysteroid-Obsessoid Questionnaire),
similar and correlated to Eysenck's MPI extraversion-introversion
scale, was distributed to subjects. Subjects were also asked to
complete a questionnaire about Dp experiences, including questions about
frequency of occurrence, details of phenomenon description, etc.
Results were largely consistent with other studies of normals.
Thirty-five of 50 subjects reported incidents of Dp. Nineteen reported
Dp and Dr; 8 reported Dp only; 8 reported Dr only. A preponderance of
females was not found. Most Dp-Dr experiences were of 30 minutes
length or less, and infrequent; a majority reported the occurrence of
Dp as less than 5 times in the past 12 months.
Micropsia and an altered time perception were two frequently
mentioned accompanying experiences (13/35 in both cases). Other
associated phenomena included concentration difficulties, altered
body-weight perception and dej6 vu. Infrequent reports were hallucina-
tions and body image disturbance. Seven subjects reported a family
history of Dp, but most were unaware of such connections.
Conditions differed from subject to subject, but only 13/35
reported Dp during daytime with a clear mind. Twenty-three subjects
reported Dp in relationship to altered states of consciousness. Nine
reported Dp in a stressful situation, and 9 mentioned it in conjunction
with a sad mood.
Differences in the personality dimensions hysteroid and obsessoid
were not found between Dp-present and Dp-absent groups as measured by the
HOQ personality inventory. Age difference was not statistically
significant between the 2 groups. There were no differences between the
2 groups in regard to sex, family history of Dp, or staff-student
Subjects who reported Dp most frequently, however, reported it
significantly (statistically) more often in states of clarity of mind.
These persons were younger than those who reported it infrequently or
not at all (p < .05). At a .10 level of significance, this group also
included primarily females. No other relationships were apparent.
In 1972, Myers and Grant also undertook to study Dp in college
students. They were interested in the form and situation in which Dp
occurred in students. Students in 7 dormitories were sent brief,
vague descriptions of Dp and asked to write an account of any experience
which came to mind as a likeness, or reply "no." Replies were divided
into 3 groups: those considered "Dp-present," "Dp-uncertain," and
"Dp-absent." Criteria were an awareness of body-change in an unreal
sort of way; "jamais vu" was included as a description of Dp although
one might judge from the reasoning that derealization was implied by
this term. Accounts were rejected if they reflected the initial
description or were easily confusable with other phenomena.
Of 339 women replying, 42 accounts were accepted as Dp; 34 of
552 men were deemed as having experienced Dp. These persons and a
randomly selected sample were then interviewed. A striking finding
was that these accounts of Dp, in a group of normal college students,
differed in no way from clinical accounts of Dp. Situations in which
Dp occurred included both hypnogogic and waking states. Agoraphobia
was found significantly more often in women experiencing Dp, but it
was noted that women in general may experience agoraphobia more often
The only difference in emotional health between Dp-experiencing
students and controls was in Dp women reporting slightly more emotional
disturbance on a questionnaire regarding emotional status during the
last year, and Dp men scoring higher on EPI ratings of neuroticism. No
student exhibited epilepsy or schizophrenia, and personality back-
grounds were similar for Dp and control groups. Dp as a defensive
reaction was discussed with emphasis on the Dp-agoraphobia finding
(Myers and Grant, 1972). Certain questions might arise from this study
since phenomena not usually included in the Dp syndrome were used as
criteria. Body image change seemed central to the probe description,
while it is generally accepted that body image is only one aspect of
Dp (Ackner, 1954; Mayer-Gross, 1935). Also, caution must be added to
generalizing to other normal populations since college students, the
salient focus of four of the studies (Dixon, 1963; Myers and Grant, 1972;
Roberts, 1960), constitutes a select, distinctive group found often
in psychological research as subject pools. While our knowledge
of Dp is certainly increased by these studies, our knowledge
of Dp in other normal groups is limited. Possibly the selection
criteria or the stresses of college life might be more con-
ducive to Dp. Certainly further work with other normals is
Theories about Dp have been as varied as the situations in which
it occurs. Ackner in 1954 delineated the theories into four categories
which are generally accepted. These include Dp as an organically-based
phenomenon ("cortical dysfunction"), Dp associated with a particular
psychological dysfunction, Dp as a form or precursor of schizophrenia,
and Dp as a defense mechanism in psychoanalytic literature. Sedman
(1970) argued for the same clustering of theories, updating the literature
included in each. For our purposes, theories will be discussed with
these categories in mind.
Mayer-Gross (1935) proposed Dp to be a "preformed functional
response of the brain." He viewed Dp as a non-specific syndrome which
may be the main feature of a neurosis or a precursor to depression or
schizophrenia but appears usually only in a low intensity phase of an
illness, dropping out as severity increases. Dp is a reaction by the
brain brought about by a variety of stimuli. In support of this
suggestion, he notes evidence of difficulty in verbal description of
the experience and the fact that correct recognition of the experience
does not in any way diminish the phenomenon for the patient. He points
further to the indication of Dp in normal persons as supportive of his
claim of a preformed, cerebral reaction to a variety of causes
(similar to the epileptic fit, delirium,catatonic states, etc.).
A similarity of Dp to sensory disturbances originating in the
thalamus is noted. Also, in drug-produced psychosis,a counterpart to
the naturally occurring Dp phenomena was observed. These instances
point again to an organic base (Mayer-Gross, 1935).
Although he argues for a different line of reasoning, Roth
(1959) found in several patients a severe onset of Dp with electro-
convulsive shock treatment. Roth found further 5 patients with cerebral
lesions in the temporal lobes with persistent Dp although he points out
the co-finding of phobic anxiety.
Roberts' (1960), Dixon's (1963), and Myers' and Grant's (1972)
studies of Dp in normals offer support for Mayer-Gross's concept of a
"preformed functional response of the brain.'
The second major grouping of theories Ackner (1954) mentions are
those theories viewing Dp as associated with a particular psychological
dysfunction. Both Sedman (1970) and Ackner (1954) note the attempts
of early authors such as Janet, Krischaber, Ribot and Taine, to ascribe
Dp as a dysfunction of sense perception. These theories were later
discarded for the most part when no physiological evidence became
apparent to support their claims. Ackner (1954), Sedman (1970), and
Mayer-Gross (1935) all mentioned the possibility of memory disorders as
the primary basis for Dp, but this approach (discussed earlier) fell
into disuse because of the over-emphasis on one particular feature as
opposed to any other providing the aetiology for Dp. As with sensory
disturbances, memory disturbances are also simply not found universally
in Dp, a criticism which may be leveled against many of the theories in
this category. Depression and forms of anxiety have been implicated by
several authors to be the primary experiences responsible for Dp.
For Sedman and Reed (1963) symptoms of depression coupled with
an insecure personality were thought to be at the core of the Dp
experience. They found indications of Dp phenomena in a combination
of obsessional personalities and depression. Three groups of psychiatric
patients were studied: a group with manic-depressive psychosis, a group
of persons with obsessional personalities and depression, and a group
with just obsessional personalities. Schizophrenia and organically-
based syndromes were left out of the sample. After categorization by
diagnosis, patients were examined for Dp phenomena on a 3-point con-
tinuum of 0-no Dp, 1-transient Dp, and 2-permanent Dp (over 6 months).
A mix of depression and an insecure personality was found to have
the most significant occurrence of Dp. Sex was not a significant factor
in any group. Overall age range of 19-60 was much wider than that of
Mayer-Gross (1935). Obsessional personalities (insecure) did not seem
to exhibit severe symptoms, at least among those experiencing Dp.
Manic depressives showed only one incident of Dp (out of 23 subjects),
and in the third group (obsessional only), only 2 out of 41 had Dp.
Fourteen of 49 patients with insecure personalities and depression
exhibited statistically significant Dp differences from the other groups.
This in turn leads to the assertion of Dp as a prominent feature of
obsessive depressives (Sedman and Reed, 1963).
Emphasis on anxiety states as the salient condition for Dp has
gained wide attention also. Roth (1959) proposed Dp to follow a sudden
calamity. His studies covered 135 cases of Phobic Anxiety Dp, compared
for life histories, with 50 control patients with other illnesses, 50
physically ill patients with no psychological disturbances, 6 patients
with cerebral lesion, and 5 patients left out who had Op, but in con-
junction with depressive or schizophrenic psychosis. There were 93
women and 42 men with mean ages of 35 and 38 respectively. Association
of Dp with "calamitous" circumstances was notable in descriptions. In
37% of patients, Dp followed grief over the death or sudden illness in
a close friend or relative; in 31%, the patient himself became in danger
or very ill, and in 15% of his patients, Dp came after breakdown in the
family or following serious marital stress. Dp following illness was
more common in men and older groups; Dp following bereavement was more
common in women (statistically significant, p < .05). The difference
between experimental and control (other neurotics) groups was significant
at p < .01 in precipitating factors, also. Phobic-Anxiety was found in
the Dp group, uniformly present, differing only in intensity. Roth
argues for the Phobic-Anxiety syndrome to be the one, primary syndrome
to covary with Dp phenomena with other incidences often mentioned, to be
secondary. Roth believes Dp to be an "all or none" phenomenon, serving
the function of preventing the person from being overwhelmed by emotion.
Roth posits the stressful, anxious situation as causal where
Mayer-Gross posits the "pre-formed functional response." Sedman (1968)
presented evidence that Dp patients could not be differentiated from
depressives, but could from anxious neurotics. Dixon (1963) discussed
his finding of the slight relationship between Dp and introversion in
his normal female students as being due toacorrelation with anxiety.
As might be evident, though, no one finding on anxiety emerges universal.
Anxiety looms large as a precipitating factor in Dp in psychoanalytic
While it is usually considered a separate category of theory, the
idea of schizophrenia as an aetiological factor in Dp follows a similar
track as those positing an individual emotional/psychological dysfunction.
Ackner (1954) and Sedman (1970) note that most theorists relating
the two see Dp as a prodromal stage for schizophrenia. Others in this
area similarly feel schizophrenia to be only quantitatively different
A general lack of empirical evidence may be noted in most theoriz-
ing relating Dp to schizophrenia. Rosenfeld (1947) dealt with a case
history of a patient with Dp symptoms whom he classified as schizoid.
His descriptions and conjectures were largely analytical in nature,
though, and he saw Dp first as a defense mechanism against guilt,
depression, and persecution and secondly as a primitive phase of
schizoid processes. Rosenfeld saw both schizophrenia and Dp as affect-
ing the core of the ego, splitting and disintegrating the ego by
destructive impulses turned inward. A weakened ego resulting from a
shock in early childhood is pointed to as aetiologically important.
He suggests only a quantitative difference in Dp and complete schizoid
ego disintegration. While Rosenfeld states his case with some clarity,
it must be noted that his case history evidence is highly interpretive,
rendering its scientific contribution minimal. Lewis, in his attempt
to differentiate psychoneurosis and schizophrenia, also noted Dp as a
prodromal phase of schizophrenia, but again, no concrete empirical
evidence is offered (Lewis, 1949). Goldstone (1947) with the same lack
of empirical work sees Dp as aetiological of psychoneurosis.
Tucker, Harrow, and Quinlan (1973) have dealt empirically with
the problem of Dp and psychological dysfunction. By administering a
questionnaire on Dp, as well as the Maudsley Personality Inventory,
Marlow-Crowne scale, Taylor Manifest Anxiety scale, Rorschach, Zung
Depression scale, Zuckerman scale, a semantic differential scale,
Q-sort, Buss-Durkee scale, Srole and Brimm scale, to 155 new admissions
to the Yale-New Haven Hospital and observing Dp frequency across
diagnostic category, they arrived at a prototypical depersonalized
patient. That patient is described as possessing chronic anxiety,
persistent depressed affect and some amount of thought disturbance.
They suggest that Dp is an "experience of discomfort of the self in
the world," and that Dp may be the very center of the concept of mental
illness. The most striking finding of the study was the positive associ-
ation between schizophrenia and Dp particularly in latent and borderline
schizophrenia. Since anxiety, depressed affect and some degree of
thought disturbance are common symptoms in most psychiatric patients,
this finding may be seen as supporting the finding of Fleiss et al. who
noted a relative independence of Dp over most emotional conditions,
including but not limited to schizophrenia.
The last field of theory, psychoanalytic approaches to Dp,
represents a very large body of literature, predominantly psychodynamic
interpretation of Dp phenomena illustrated in case studies. Sarlin
(1962) has proposed that Dp is a defense reaction which differs in range
against aggressive drives of the Id. These aggressive drives are
perceived as a threat to the ego. Other authors propose
the Dp experience as a "regression...to a primitive undifferentiated
oral state, in which the individual yearns for symbiotic union with
the mother" (see Sedman, 1970).
Bradlow (1973) sees "ego-splitting" as the core of Dp. The ego
is "disowned," and not seen as human; anxiety is avoided via the
disownment. In Dp, the split between ego and ego-ideal widens. The
difference between Dp and depression lies in their development; the
first is acute, the second chronic. The psychodynamics of Dp are
reflective of those of shame. Both arise from inferiority feelings,
and it is felt that either could be precursor to the other (Bradlow,
1973). Other psychoanalytic authors see similar patterns. Barring
a discussion of the exact dynamics, Kaplan (1972) related neurotic
shyness as a social phobia to dynamic similarities of Dp. A regression
to the oral stage is noted.
Myers (1976) notes a regressive tendency, also. He sought to
compare Dp with imaginary companions, fantasy twins, and mirror dreams.
Four case histories are analyzed of women who experienced these conditions.
The ego-splitting in Dp serves as a defense mechanism against castration
anxiety and object loss produced by aggressive drives. Anal and
Oepidal traumas are thought to be aetiological. Ego splitting was
further discussed by Lower (1972) who summarized his thesis that "the
alienation of the sense of self, pathognomonic of Dp, can best be under-
stood as the result of a selective regression of the ego's sense of
self, facilitated primarily by an affective isolation." Another set of
authors postulating the defensive quality of Dp against aggressive
tendencies were Miller and Bashkin (1974). They saw the powerful
decompensating superego, turning on the powerless ego. They further
related self-mutilation as a way for the person to attempt to restore
These authors, of course, are but a sampling of psychodynamic
approaches to Dp phenomena. As was noted previously, caution must be
taken in dealing with this theoretical set because of its limited case
history data base. As Sedman (1970) has pointed out, if one is able to
look beyond the jargon, psychoanalytic accounts of Dp are providing little
more than further descriptions of individual accounts.
Statement of the Problem
The striking feature of Dp repeatedly found in the literature is
the seeming inability to adequately define the phenomena or elucidate
its structure. Even the best attempts (Ambrosino, 1975; Ackner, 1954;
Mayer-Gross, 1935; Sedman, 1970) have ended primarily with descriptive
analyses, and in most cases, theorists are aware of their limitations.
Ackner (1954) points out that the task of defining the phenomenon of
Dp is inherently problematic and may not be resolvable. It is certainly
no less problematic than the phenomenon of self-feeling, for it is the
one salient aspect of the personality that most theorists admit is
dramatically changed during Dp. Perhaps with greater understanding of
the Dp experience, a more informative approach to the "self" as commonly
experienced might become available. Dp is one of the few experiences
of the "absence" of self-feeling while still maintaining realistic
The study of the phenomena in normals may be the most promising
setting in which to gain a more lucid understanding of both depersonali-
zation and self-feeling. Most work with normals has included college
students as subjects. The incidence of Dp appears to be high in this
select group. This investigation of Dp focused on a non-college normal
Personality and situational factors of the normal Dp experience
need to be further explored. While Dp occurs in clinical patients
across all categories of disorders, little work has been conducted with
normals to distinguish personality characteristics between those who
report Dp and those who do not. While situational factors have been
addressed in prior research, more data is certainly in order since
investigations have not been very systematic or comparable.
This study seeks to investigate not only personality, gender,
education, socioeconomic and age differences in persons prone to
Dp and persons without Dp, but will also examine differential characteris-
tics of persons who experience Dp with varying frequencies.
Subjects were recruited on a voluntary basis from agencies which
employ large numbers of persons of various ages, socioeconomic levels,
and education. Examples of such agencies include an artisan's guild,
a roofing company, a high school, and an auxiliary sheriff's department.
Solicitation was done in person. Approximately 25 agencies or businesses
were contacted, approximately 18 allowed the solicitation of subjects.
One hundred-sixty sets of questionnaires were distributed, in order to
obtain the 120 final sets used in the analysis. The age range was
from 16 to 84, with a mean of 34.25 and a standard deviation of 13.68.
Most subjects were employed half to full time. Sixty of the subjects
were female; 60 were male. The mean education level was 13.9 years.
Most subjects fell into middle socioeconomic categories. Race infor-
mation was not requested, however, it can be safely stated that the
great majority of subjects were caucasian. A few subjects were
solicited individually but were handled in precisely the same manner
as those in small groups. One small group of subjects (n = 6)
concerned about their identity were handled by taping instructions
and followup interviews. All subjects signed an informed consent
statement before participating in the study.
Procedures and Materials
Subjects were met by the investigator or a research assistant in
small groups where the project was described to them and they were asked
to participate in the study. At that time packets were distributed to
volunteers; the packets consisting of the Informed Consent form, the
Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, Coan's Experience Inventory, and
a questionnaire regarding change in the sense of self (Dp). They were
asked to complete all items of each form and they were invited to ask
for a copy of the completed study. Data collection was completed in
4 months. A short description of each questionnaire is in order.
The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) (adult) is a 90-item
inventory covering four factors: psychotism (toughmindedness-tender-
mindedness), introversion-extraversion, neuroticism (emotionality), and
a lie scale. The EPQ is a clear and direct questionnaire enabling
subjects to concisely present themselves in terms of the 4 above-
mentioned factors (see Appendix 2) (Eysenck and Eysenck, 1975).
The questionnaire on depersonalization was devised by the
investigator to tap a variety of specific variables. The phenomena are
not referred to by name or described in much detail with the intention
of biasing the accounts of Dp as little as possible. When asking for
descriptions of Dp one is confronted with two poles between which is an
uncomfortably slight middle ground. To describe the phenomena too
completely confronts the pole of circularity of the data; to describe
Dp too loosely confronts the problem of the lesser likelihood of the
subject to pinpoint experiences in his repertoire which may indicate
the phenomena to the researcher. In this questionnaire, elements from
researchers who have chosen both routes have been used and hopefully
a middle ground is reached. A followup funneled interview was used to
determine the degree of detail necessary for maximum response.
Whilederealization has been included as part of the account request,
criteria for accepting an account as Dp did not include accounts of
Dr alone. Criteria used included a change in a person's sense of self
in the direction of recognized unreality, i.e., the metaphorical "as-
if" quality of description, introspection as though the self were split
and watching itself, and lastly derealization. The core criteria involve
the "splitness" of the self and observation thereof especially with
regard to the reality factor. All of the criteria have been discussed
in the literature section of this proposal.
An inter-rater reliability measure was used in establishing true-
positive accounts of Dp. When the first 60 subjects had been collected,
a sample of 9 "yes" responses to the Dp questionnaire were randomly
selected and viewed by two raters, the investigator and an experienced
clinical psychologist. Inter-rate reliability was 8 agreements out of
9 and was deemed suitable. Ratings were done blindly and the one out of 9
subjects in question was left out of the analysis due to the nebulous
description therein. (One rater rated the protocol yes [?], the
other labeled it no [?]). Since there was no reason to believe the
second 60 subjects differed in any way from the first, the rest of the
true and false positives were rated by the investigator.
Other items covered by the questionnaire include frequency of
the experience, duration, conditions, time of occurrence, clarity of
consciousness, and attitude towards the experience. Education level was
Coan's Experience Inventory (Coan, 1977) taps seven factors of open-
ness to experience: aesthetic sensitivity versus insensitivity, unusual
perceptions and associations, openness to theoretical or hypothetical
ideas, constructive utilization of fantasy and dreams, openness to uncon-
ventional views of reality versus adherence to mundane material reality,
indulgence in fantasy versus avoidance of fantasy, and deliberate and
systematic thought. It was hoped that the Experience Inventory may
help to elucidate differences between persons reporting Dp and those who
do not since many of the items relate to "openness to experience."
Although this inventory is relatively new (1972), it does have some
established validity largely on college populations (Coan, 1977).
In the initial phase, Coan gave his Experience Inventory to 383
undergraduate psychology students and factor analyzed the items. Twenty-
five percent of the variance was attributed to a general factor of open-
ness, but since so much of the variance was not accounted for by a
general construct it was felt that several factors needed to be con-
sidered when dealing with openness to experience. In other words, no
single factor of openness (aesthetic sensitivity, openness to hypo-
thetical ideas, etc.) could be considered a general factor of openness.
Rotated factors were ranked according to amount of variance accounted
for, and of the 16 original factors the present 7 which make up the
present inventory were maintained as significant.
Coan's subjects were also given other inventories as part of a pro-
ject regarding the optimal personality. Moderate correlations exist between
the Experience Inventory and Early Memories Inventory. An activity
check-list and the Experience Inventory were essentially independent.
Sex differences were found on 4 of the 7 retained factors with women
more open on most factors. Details of the Inventory's correlation with the
other battery variables may be found in Coan (1977). Eight of the original
factors have been found tocorrelatewith measures of attitudinal flexibility.
Coan also cites several further studies which employed the Experience
Inventory. Luce (1971) compared scores from Coan's Inventory with scores
on the Betts Questionnaire (self-ratings on use of imagery) for a group of
124 college students. Only one correlation proved significant--a negative
one comparing visual imagery use and openness to theoretical ideas. In
a study by Pommer (1971) no significant differences in scores on the inven-
tory were found between a group of marijuana users and non-marijuana users.
Coan (1976) notes Bone of Wesleyan College in his work with 135 students
found negative correlations between the Maudsley Personality Inventory
(MPI) extraversion scale and scale 6 in indulgence in fantasy, and
positive correlations between scales 2 (unusual perceptions) and 6 and
the MPI neuroticism scale. Scales 3 (openness to hypothetical ideas)
and 6 correlated positively with the psychoticism scale and negatively
with Wilson and Patterson's conservatism scale. Scales 1 (aesthetic
sensitivity), 3, 5 (openness to conventional views of reality) showed
positive correlations with thrill and adventure seeking of the Zuckerman
scale. Scale 1 was correlated with boredom and susceptibility. Expe-
rience seeking, on the Zuckerman scale was correlated positively with
scales 1, 2, 5, and 6, and negatively with scale 7. On Cattell's 16 PF
Questionnaire, Bone found a large positive correlation of .73 between
factor B, Intelligence and Coan's scale 3. The Myers-Briggs Type
Indicator showed correlations of SN and Coan's scales 1, 2, 3, and 6.
TF correlated positively with 4 (constructive utilization of fantasy)
and 5 and negatively with 7. Other correlations reported may be found
in Coan (1977).
For the purpose of analysis, the study was divided into two broad
areas with subdivisions in each. The first area deals with the question,
"Do people who experience Dp differ in personality, sex, age, socio-
economic status (SES), or education level from those who do not experience
Dp (Dp-yes versus Dp-no)?" The second part of the survey deals with
people who have experienced Dp and asks, "Do people who differ in the
frequency of the experience differ also on conditions, duration, sex, age,
SES, education level, attitude, time of occurrence, and personality (Dp-
yes, frequency)?" The hypotheses are stated below.
Hypothesis for Part I
People who experience Dp differ from those who do not experience Dp
on the above stated variables. To test this hypothesis, the incidence
or number of persons reporting Dp was recorded. To determine edu-
cational, socioeconomic differences, age, and sex differences between
groups, a chi square test was performed. To determine personality
differences or difference in openness to experience, a multivariate
measure, Hotelling's t2 was employed to determine differences in
response to the combined 11 factors on the EPQ and the Experience
Inventory. Male and female data on the above was analyzed separately
as established norms differ somewhat according to gender. A post hoc
analysis, a univariate t test (which breaks down the a level across
factors) was employed to determine precisely where differences lie.
Hypothesis for Part II
Persons who experience Dp with varying degrees of frequency also
differ in personality, openness to experience, conditions under which Dp
occurs, duration of Dp experiences, attitude towards Dp, time of day of
Dp occurrence, or clarity of mind. Age, socioeconomic level (SES),
educational and sex may show differential patterns across frequencies.
Because of indeterminable representation of persons with Dp across
frequencies, the Wilcoxin Test, a non-parametric measure, was used to
examine sex differences, SES differences, educational differences and
age differences across frequencies. Kendall's Taub, a measure used to
correlate two ordinal variables, was employed to determine existing
differences in duration, attitude, and clarity of mind across frequencies.
The Kruskal-Wallis test of correlation between Nominal and Ordinal
scales was the test of salience for time of day of occurrence of Dp.
Number of conditions occurring within different frequency groups were
tested by Kendall's Taub. The 4 factors of the EPQ and the 7 factors
of the Experience Inventory were examined by MANOVA (Multiple Analysis
of Variance). The Greenhouse-Geisser Conservative Correction (Green-
house and Geisser, 1958) was used to control the a level, and a Duncan's
post hoc analysis was performed.
Out of 120 subjects (60 female, 60 male) 17 persons were judged
to have reported true accounts of depersonalization (approximately 15%).
Of those reporting Dp, 12 were female and 5 were male.
When viewing differences between Dp-yes and Dp-no groups, no
significant differences were found (via Pearson's chi square) in regard
to sex, socioeconomic level, or education level. Sex differences did
not show significance although the Dp-yes group consisted of 12 females
and 5 males.
Where differences did become apparent most were in respect to
personality variables. The overall Hotelling's t2 probability value was
t 2(1, 46) = 22.75, p < .043 indicating some difference present. Indi-
vidual t tests, controlling for the a level, were conducted as a post
hoc analysis. When the F test for variance indicated no significant
difference in variance between the 2 groups, a t (pooled variance) test
was conducted; if the F value indicated a difference in variance, a t
(separate variance) test was conducted.
For females no significant difference was found on the 4 scales of
the EPQ between those persons who report Dp and those who do not. The
Experience Inventory yielded significantly higher scores on several
scales for Dp-yes subjects, though. The first scale indicated a
statistically significant finding,
t (pooled)(58) = -2.29, p < .02. This scale indicates aesthetic
sensitivity. The results for scale 2 were t (pooled)(58) = -4.41, p
< .0002 indicating a significant difference in openness to unusual
perceptions and associations. Scale 3 of the Experience Inventory,
openness to theoretical or hypothetical ideas, showed a significant
difference with t (pooled)(58) = -2.48, p < .016. Scale 5, openness to
unconventional views of reality vs. adherence to mundane material reality
showed a difference between groups at t (pooled)(58) = -3.20, p < .002.
Finally, the sixth scale of the Experience Inventory yielded significant
results at t (pooled)(58) = -2.36, p < .022, indicating a difference
between Dp-yes subjects and Dp-no subjects in regard to indulgence
in fantasy vs. avoidance of fantasy. Each significant finding was in
the direction of the Dp group averaging higher scores.
For males a significant difference on the neuroticism scale of
the EPQ was found, t (pooled)(57) = -.203, p < .048. Men who experienced
Dp obtained higher scores. The EPQ yielded no other significant differences.
As with female subjects, the Experience Inventory indicated several
interesting differences between men who do not experience Dp and men who
do. Scale I indicated significantly higher scores for Dp reporting
males at t (pooled)(57) = -2.12, p < .039. Scale 2, openness to unusual
perceptions and associations saw significantly higher scores for Dp-yes
men, at t (pooled)(57) = -3.42, p < .001. Scale 5, described earlier,
indicated a difference in Dp-yes and Dp-no men with the former averag-
ing significantly higher than the Dp-no men t (pooled)(57) = -2.62, p
< .011. Lastly, scale 6 indicates significantly higher scores for
males reporting Dp with t(pooled)(57) = -3.47, p < .001. A summary of
these statistics can be found in Appendix 5.
The 17 persons reporting Dp were classified into 3 groups: low
frequency (3 times or less) of report (n = 12), middle (5 to 25 times)
frequency of report (n = 3) and high (over 25 times ) frequency (n = 2)
of report. The Wilcoxin Signed Rank test failed to show significant
differences in regard to age, sex, education or SES among groups.
Of the 17 persons experiencing Dp, 8 persons experienced it in
the company of others, 6 experienced it alone (3 persons did not respond
to these items). Five persons reported Dp under emotional stress, while
4 reported Dp in connection with fatigue and 3 reported it in connection
with falling asleep or awakening, 3 during excitement and 3 in front of
a mirror. There was only one report each of Dp and alcohol, drugs,
embarrassment or depression. Number of conditions mentioned did not
significantly differ among groups. The low-frequency group included
all four accounts of Dp and fatigue. Miscellaneous conditions mentioned
included Dp experienced as part of an actor's performance, Dp experienced
during the birth of a child, and Dp in connection with a near death
experience (for examples of accounts, see Appendix
Time of day did not differ significantly among groups, (Kruskal-
Wallis One-way ANOVA). The overall mean recorded as 3.76 was somewhere
between afternoon (3) and evening (4), SD = 1.44.
Using Kendall's Rank Correlation Coefficient, clarity of mind
was positively correlated with frequency of report at r = .35. Attitude
and clarity were positively correlated at r = .29; attitude (towards
Dp) and duration were negatively correlated at r = -.27; and attitude
and frequency were positively correlated at r = .26.
Personality differences among frequency groups were tested by a
MANOVA. (he same scales as in Part I). While it is usually not the
custom to use a MANOVA with such a small group (n = 17), the potential
interdependence of the scales and lack of an existing, suitable, non-
parametric test pointed to the MANOVA as best suited under the circum-
stances. In order to assure conservatism in the interpretation of
results, the Greenhouse-Geisser Conservative Correction was used to
control the a level in a post hoc analysis (Greenhouse and Geisser,
1958). This correction involves using the lower bound of Epsilon (1/K -
1, where K = number of levels of factors) correcting the critical F value
(usually making it harder to reject).
The only difference the MANOVA yielded was in the Extroversion
scale of the EPQ, F (2, 9) = 8.69, p < .0079, corrected to F(l, 10) =
8.69, P < .05. Duncan's multiple comparison of means was used to
determine how the groups differed and it was found that the group
reporting low frequency of Dp scored significantly higher on extro-
version than the mid and high frequency groups (a = .05).
Differences between Dp-yes and Dp-no groups were expected. It
was assumed that people reporting Dp might tend towards Introversion on
the EPQ "E" scale, but this was not demonstrated except for females
who reported the experience as occurring frequently. Likewise, the
groups did not differ significantly on any of the demographic variables,
namely age, sex, socioeconomic level (SES), or education level. The
prediction would have been that highly educated persons, young adults,
high SES persons, and females would have shown a preponderance of
Dp-yes responses, based on previous literature (e.g., Roberts, 1960;
Roth, 1959; Sedman, 1968).
Hotelling's t2 employed to determine personality and openness to
experience differences yielded some significant results. In regard to
the EPQ neuroticism scale, Dp-yes males scored significantly higher than
Dp-no men. If, as has been indicated in the past, Dp is associated
with emotional stress and anxiety (Dixon, 1963; Roth, 1959) the higher
score fits well with previous findings. The question which comes to
mind is why Dp-yes women did not also receive higher neuroticism scores
than Dp-no women. It may be due to the fact that both Dp-yes and Dp-no
women scored higher on this scale. The groups differed most frequently
on the Experience Inventory with both sexes exhibiting differences
across several scales. Invariably the Dp-yes group showed greater
openness to experience. The predicted findings for females were borne
out--Dp-yes women scored higher than Dp-no women on scales 2 and 5. In
unusual perceptions and associations (2) a high score indicates a
variety of ways of experiencing one's body, one's self, and one's
physical surroundings. It may be noted that these experiences correspond
to key elements of both depersonalization and derealization. Dp-yes
males also scored significantly higher on scale 2. On scale 5, Openness
to unconventional views of reality vs. adherence to mundane material
reality, high scores indicate a willingness to consider ideas of
reality not commonly entertained. These include unusual reports of
experiences such as astral projection. Dp could certainly be characterized
as an unconventional experience. Both males and females reporting Dp
scored high on these scales, but the chicken-egg dilemma comes up as
to whether the Dp experience leadsto openness to experiencing or whether
an openness to uncommon realities allows the experience to occur and/or
be reported, or whether Dp subjects are simply saying about the same
thing, or referring in part to the same phenomena, when they respond to
the two different forms, the Dp questionnaire and the Experience In-
Several other unpredicted differences occurred. Dp-yes females
showed greater appreciation of aesthetics, and abstract ideas and
greater participation in and enjoyment of fantasies. The key word here
is abstraction--in all three of the above is an openness to more abstract
concepts. The concept of self is not a concrete one, but the disruption
of the self structure in depersonalization takes on an ultimate level of
abstraction, indicated by past authors in the inability of the person
to describe Dp in other than metaphorical terms (Mayer-Gross, 1935;
Ackner, 1954). If there is consistency in "self-experience" and the
self experiencing, then the abstraction element fits well into both
categories in the person who experiences Dp.
As mentioned before, Dp-yes males did show the predicted pattern
on scales 2 and 5; the same propositions are assumed. Males reporting
Dp also differed on scales 1 and 6, aesthetic sensitivity and Indulgence
in fantasy. The assumptions mentioned in regard to females and Dp
hold here as well. The underlying element is assumed to be precisely
this: Dp-no persons score on the Experience Inventory in a manner
which would suggest a concrete experience of self and surroundings,
while Dp-yes persons score in a manner suggestive of a looser more
abstract experience of self and world.
Sedman (1966) suggested that frequency of report might elucidate
variables affecting Dp and the second part of the study was conducted
on this premise. Only one significant difference was found and then
only for females. On the extraversion scale of the EPQ females in the
low frequency group scored significantly higher than those in the
higher frequency groups. This would suggest a tendency towards intro-
version in those who experience Dp often, and the predicted direction
is supported. Those who focus more on the internal world would be more
disposed to the occurrence of Dp. For now though, a word of caution
must be added. The MANOVA was inappropriately used due to a lack of
a truly appropriate technique so the results must be regarded con-
servatively. While this is an interesting and predicted finding it would
have been equally predicted in males and this was not found (possibly due
to the very small size of n = 5). Unless this finding can be replicated
in a much larger study, then the significance of the findings is judged
to be tenuous.
The conditions of report were interesting, although only descriptive
statistics were taken. Eight people mentioned Dp with other people;
6 mentioned Dp experienced alone. Self-awareness or self-consciousness
measures might enlighten these conditions further. The finding of Dp
occurrence over a variety of conditions such as stress, fatigue, pre-
and post sleep states, excitement and other disturbed states may
indicate support for the idea of a "preformed functional response,"
(Mayer-Gross, 1935). In other words, Dp is not situation specific and
may be rooted in an inherent reaction of the system to some disturbance
of variable nature.
While this study undertook to look at a population in which Dp has
not been studied before, it has not been without its problems. To
begin with, all subjects were volunteers (by necessity) and as Irwin
Silverman has pointed out, volunteers have distinguishing character-
istics from non-volunteers. Silverman notes "that volunteers tend to be
more intelligent, better educated, higher in need for approval, more
sociable, more arousal seeking, less conventional, less authoritarian,
more often first born, and younger than non-volunteers" (Silverman,
1977). Silverman further notes that volunteers appear to be more
receptive to the experimenter's purposes. While in some experiments
this may be a source of bias, this characteristic may have in fact
aided the purpose of this study. Since a community sample was used,
the expectancy of distrust of things psychological leads to a prediction
of encounters of refusals to report Dp even if experienced. A desire
to aid the investigator or an overall characteristic of responsiveness
would serve to increase the probability of report and add a counter-
effect to the distrust of psychological research. The distrust was
encountered at times in full force.
While the incidence of Dp stands at approximately 15%, it is felt
to be a low figure due, not only to possible negative response bias,
but also to a few procedural errors. Since subjects could change from
an original "no" response to a "yes" response in the follow-up telephone
interview, it was necessary to return the Dp questionnaire to enquire
about conditions, time of day and so on as well as to obtain written
descriptions of the accounts. Several "yes" responses were not given
back, rendering the data unusable since the original forms often
included only a "no" response. Given these lost Dp-yes responses and
the vagueness of the questionnaire, the assumption is that with a
refined instrument, a realistic prediction of Dp report might easily
range to 25%.
Several problems arose with the questionnaire and follow-up
interview. The most outstanding problem was the inability of certain
questions to convey a clearly understood request. For example, one
followup question asked "Have you ever felt as if there was no difference
between "me" and "not me"? Almost without exception subjects did not
understand the question. It is felt that the question about self and
not self was not so difficult but it was poorly worded. Another problem
which arose was the tendency of some subjects to take the questions too
literally, for example,if asked if they had ever had the feeling of
being two people, the one watching the other, the typical reply was
something on the order of "No, I've never been 2 people." Another
possible problem is that the questionnaire asks whether the person has
experienced a change in sense of self rather than more specifically
inquiring about Dp. It is now felt that a more direct focus on Dp
would have yielded a higher reply rate. While one certainly runs
the riskof circularity (of persons giving accounts based not on real
experiences but rather on the positive response bias to the questionnaire
information), the present assumption is that more true positive accounts
of Dp are lost by the vagueness or indirectness of the questionnaire
than are lost to unusual subject motivation.
What depersonalization may signify as phenomenon remains a matter
of theoretical orientation. It is viewed as a phenomenon of interest
here in regard to its (Dp) ability to elucidate the intact self structure.
While the variables in Dp are debated, the most central and basic
characteristic is that of auto-observation, and the reported self
estrangement (as in Dixon, 1963). Without these key characteristics,
Dp would be indistinguishable from Dr (derealization) and a variety of
The I-me dichotomy spoken of by James remains the essence of self
experience. The self-as-process or doer is in an inextricable union
with the self-as-object (me). James speaks of the Spiritual Self as
a section of the stream of consciousness which initiates self feeling
(object) and projects itself on the world, or goes out to meet it
(process). The self rests in a reflective, or prereflective state,
never in both. To James, the feeling of self-sameness over time and
therefore personal identity is dependent upon a continuity in time.
It is not necessarily that characteristics of the "I" or "me" are
exactly the same every day, but rather "it is a conclusion grounded
either on a resemblance in a fundamental respect, or on the continuity
before the mind, of the phenomena compared" (James, 1890).
It is proposed here that Dp is a disruption of the described
"spiritual self" with its I-me dichotomy and its temporally produced
continuity. That disruptions of temporal perception are highly
correlated with Dp (Freeman and Melges, 1977) should come as no
surprise for the continuity of the self is disorganized. The apprehended
self (the "me") takes on a quality of strangeness and is not recognized
by the process-self (I). The finding in this study that persons who
experience Dp report more abstract ways of dealing with self and world,
(or at least an openness to such) can be seen as consistent with the
above mentioned disruption of self structure. If persons experiencing
Dp entertain more abstract and, in the sense used here, more diffuse
concepts of self identity (particularly in regard to self-as-object)
and dealings with the world, it would come as no surprise that feelings
of a familiar self would be more easily dispersed or disrupted in the
person with an abstract orientation than in the person whose self-as-
object (me) concept is defined and felt as a natural object, a concrete
thing with a location in the body, not open to diffusion or dispersion.
Depersonalization may occur in part as a reaction to stress--internally
or externally induced--which threatens to overpower the person as
suggested by some authors (e.g., Noyes and Kletti, 1976; Roth, 1959).
Since not all threatening experiences lead to Dp, the nature of the self
construction as well as how threat to self leads to Dp must be con-
sidered. While this larger question is beyond the scope of this study,
it is suggested that disruption in time perception be investigated further.
Freeman and Melges (1977) offer some seminal suggestions in this regard.
"Openness to experience" or an abstract self construction also needs
further investigation to determine the extent to which Dp may be cause,
effect, or possibly one aspect or manifestation of such a self structure.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY CONSENT FORM
Project Number Project Title Reported Changes in Sense of Self
Principal Investigator Elizabeth Best Date
Assistant Patricia Converse
I agree to participate in the research as explained to me below:
I will be asked to complete three forms; a questionnaire
regarding experiences of a Change in the Sense of Self, the
EPQ, and the Experience Inventory.
All materials are strictly confidential and shall be seen only
by the investigators and the advisory committee. I am entitled
to a description of the results of the entire study.
The above stated nature and purpose of this research, including discomforts
and risks involved (if any) have been explained to me verbally by
SFurthermore, it is agreed that
the information gained from this investigation may be used for educa-
tional purposes which may include publication. I understand that I may
withdraw my consent at any time without prejudice.
I have defined and fully explained this research to the participant whose
signature appears above.
Please answer each question by marking an x beside the "YES" or the
"NO" following the question. There are no right or wrong answers, and
no trick questions. Work quickly and do not think too long about the
exact meaning of the question.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO ANSWER EACH QUESTION
Published by Edits/Educational and Industrial Testing Service
Box 7234, San Diego, California 92107.
IN EVERY QUESTION, MARK JUST ONE BOX.
1. Do you have many different hobbies? . .
2. Do you stop to think things over before doing anything? .
3. Does your mood often go up and down?. . .
4. Have you ever taken the praise for something you knew
someone else had really done? . .
5. Are you a talkative person? . .
6. Would being in debt worry you?. . .
7. Do you ever feel "just miserable" for no reason? .
8. Were you ever greedy by helping yourself to more
than your share of anything?. . .
9. Do you lock up your house carefully at night? .
10. Are you rather lively? . .
11. Would it upset you a lot to see a child or an
animal suffer? . . .. .
12. Do you often worry about things you should not
have done or said? ...................
13. If you say you will do something, do you always keep
your promise no matter how inconvenient it might be?. .
14. Can you usually let yourself go and enjoy yourself
at a lively party?. . . .
15. Are you an irritable person? . .
16. Have you ever blamed someone for doing something you
knew was really your fault? . .. .
17. Do you enjoy meeting new people? .. .....
18. Do you believe insurance plans are a good idea? .. ..
19. Are your feelings easily hurt? .... .
20. Are all your habits good and desirable ones? .. ..
21. Do you tend to keep in the background on social
GO RIGHT ON TO THI
E NEXT PAGE.
22. Would you take drugs which may have strange or
dangerous effects? . . .
23. Do you often feel "fed up"? . .
24. Have you ever taken anything (even a pin or button)
that belonged to someone else?. . .
25. Do you like going out a lot?. . .
26. Do you enjoy hurting people you love? . .
27. Are you often troubled about feelings of guilt? .
28. Do you sometimes talk about things you know nothing
about? . . .
29. Do you prefer reading to meeting people?. .
30. Do you have enemies who want to harm you? .
31. Would you call yourself a nervous person? .
32. Do you have many friends? . .
33. Do you enjoy practical jokes that can sometimes
really hurt people? . . .
34. Are you a worrier?. .
. YES NO
35. As a child did you do as you were told immediately
and without grumbling?. .. . YES NO
36. Would you call yourself happy-go-lucky? ...... YES NO
37. Do good manners and cleanliness matter much to you? YES NO
38. Do you worry about awful things that might happen?. YES NO
39. Have you ever broken or lost something belonging
to someone else?...... .......... ......... YES NO
40. Do you usually take the initiative in making
new friends?..... .. ....... . YES NO
41. Would you call yourself tense or "highly-strung"? ... .YES NO
42. Are you mostly quiet when you are with other people?. YES NO
43. Do you think marriage is old-fashion and should be
done away with? . .. .. ..... YES NO
GO RIGHT ON TO THE NEXT PAGE.
44. Do you sometimes boast a little?. . ... YES NO
45. Can you easily get some life into a rather dull party?. YES NO
46. Do people who drive carefully annoy you? ... .YES NO
47. Do you worry about your health? . .... YES NO
48. Have you ever said anything bad or nasty about anyone?. YES NO
49. Do you like telling jokes and funny stories to your
friends?. . . ... .... YES NO
50. Do most things taste the same to you? ... YES NO
51. As a child did you ever talk back to your parents?. YES NO
52. Do you like mixing with people? . .... YES NO
53. Does it worry you if you know there are mistakes
in your work? . . YES NO
54. Do you suffer from sleeplessness? . .... YES NO
55. Do you always wash before a meal? . .... YES NO
56. Do you nearly always have a "ready answer" when
people talk to you? ................... YES NO
57. Do you like to arrive at appointments in plenty
of time?. .. . . .... YES NO
58. Have you often felt listless and tired for no reason? YES NO
59. Have you ever cheated at a game? . ... YES NO
60. Do you like doing things in which you have to
act quickly? . .. YES NO
61. Is (or was) your mother a good woman? ... YES NO
62. Do you often feel life is very dull? ... YES NO
63. Have you ever taken advantage of someone? ... .YES NO
64. Do you often take on more activities than you
have time for?. . . ... .YES NO
65. Are there several people who keep trying to avoid you?. YES NO
66. Do you worry a lot about your looks? . ... .YES NO
GO RIGHT ON TO THE NEXT PAGE.
67. Do you think people spend too much time safeguarding their
future with savings and insurances? ........... YES NO
68. Have you ever wished that you were dead? ... .YES NO
69. Would you dodge paying taxes if you were sure you
could never be found out? .............. YES NO
70. Can you get a party going?. ... . YES NO
71. Do you try not to be rude to people? . ... .YES NO
72. Do you worry too long after an embarrassing experience? YES NO
73. Have you ever insisted on having your own way?. .... YES NO
74. When you catch a train do you often arrive at the
last minute?. . ... ... .YES NO
75. Do you suffer from "nerves"?. . .YES NO
76. Do your friendships break up easily without it
being your fault? . .. .... YES NO
77. Do you often feel lonely? ..... . YES NO
78. Do you always practice what you preach? ... YES NO
79. Do you sometimes like teasing animals? ... .YES NO
80. Are you easily hurt when people find fault with
you or the work you do? . ..... YES NO
81. Have you ever been late for an appointment or work? YES NO
82. Do you like plenty of bustle and excitement
around you? . . .... YES NO
83. Would you like other people to be afraid of you?. ..... .YES NO
84. Are you sometimes bubbling over with energy and
sometimes very sluggish? .. .. . YES NO
85. Do you sometimes put off until tomorrow what you
ought to do today?. .. . YES NO
86. Do other people think of you as being very lively?. .... .YES NO
87. Do people tell you a lot of lies? . ... YES NO
GO RIGHT ON TO THE NEXT PAGE.
88. Are you touchy about some things? .... YES NO
89. Are you always willing to admit it when you have
made a mistake? . . YES NO
90. Would you feel very sorry for an animal caught
in a trap?. . ........ ... . YES NO
PLEASE CHECK TO SEE THAT YOU HAVE ANSWERED ALL THE QUESTIONS.
APPENDIX: THE ITEMS OF THE INVENTORY
Below are some statements about different ideas and feelings that many
people have experienced. You are to read each statement and decide
whether it is true or false for you. Then put an X in the appropriate
space on the answer sheet. Mark either T (for true) or F (for false).
Work quickly but try to be truthful. Neither answer is necessarily
"better" or "healthier" than the other.
1. Sometimes when I am reading poetry or looking at a work of art, I
feel a strong wave of excitement that seems to affect my whole
2. Sometimes I have had the impression that the ceiling or the walls
were moving and changing size or shape, even though I knew that
this was impossible.
3. I sometimes get annoyed by people who like to talk about very
abstract theoretical matter.
4. At times the solution to a problem has occurred to me in a dream.
5. It is possible that we had a previous existence of which we have
6. I try to keep all my thoughts directed along realistic lines and
avoid flights of fancy.
7. I often feel a need to gather a lot of clear-cut facts before I
come to a conclusion about something.
8. Poetry has little effect on me.
9. I often enjoy playing with theories or abstract ideas.
10. Fairly often I dream in color.
11. It is definitely impossible for one person to read another person's
12. Sometimes I wander off into my own thoughts while doing a routine
task so that I actually forget that I am doing the task, and then
find, a few minutes later, that I have completed it without even
being aware of what I was doing.
13. I often feel a need to think things out very carefully before I
come to a conclusion about something.
14. I have sometimes experienced a very powerful feeling of movement
when looking at certain paintings or pieces of sculpture.
15. In some kinds of sounds--such as the wind, the noise of machinery,
etc.--I often imagine I hear voices.
16. I do not enjoy solving mathematical problems or puzzles.
17. At times I have solved problems or created something (such as music
or poetry) in my dreams.
18. It is possible that the mind can leave the body and experience
things at a great distance from the body.
19. I prefer not to waste my time daydreaming.
20. Often when I have to choose between doing two different things, I
try very hard to decide which is really more important in the over-
all scheme of things.
21. To be worth reading, a poem should say something that makes fairly
clear sense to any intelligent person.
22. I like to play with ideas other people consider strange or improper.
23. Sometimes I seem to be able to receive thoughts from certain people
I know well when they are not with me.
24. Astrology has no validity whatever.
25. I enjoy an active fantasy life and indulge in it fairly often.
26. I frequently develop special systems or devices to help me remember
27. I think any painting or sculpture should represent something
28. Solutions to problems or ideas for new projects come to me "out of
29. I am quick to see "double meaning" in things people are saying or
in what I am reading.
30. Most of my dreams seem fairly meaningless.
31. It is possible for one to have foreknowledge of future events.
32. I can daydream for long periods of time and completely forget where
33. I don't feel really comfortable with a topic until I can fit all of
its aspects together into some kind of pattern.
34. Art today does not require any talent because the lines and shapes
don't have to be formed to look like anything recognizable.
35. At times I see unusual relations between things.
36. Sometimes experiences in my dreams have predicted later events in
my waking life.
37. I have difficulty believing in something I cannot see or logically
38. I enjoy imagining what it would be like if I could fly.
39. I follow the adage, "A place for everything, and everything in its
place," in my home.
40. An artist should always try to express his ideas clearly so that
his audience can understand him and not just use his art to relieve
his own feelings.
41. I have sometimes imagined myself as some kind of animal.
42. I enjoy jokes based on a double meaning.
43. My most productive thinking occurs when I am wide awake and in full
control of all my senses.
44. It may be possible for two people to communicate with each other
over considerable distances via mental telepathy.
45. I prefer not to spend much time dwelling on the past.
46. Whenever I have to study a topic, I try to organize it in outline
form and get down to essentials.
47. There have been times when I have been completely immersed in nature
or in art and had a feeling of awe sweep over me so that I felt as
if my whole state of consciousness were somehow temporarily altered.
48. It often takes me a while to catch jokes based on puns or double
49. I can often better understand the people around me as the result
of my dreams.
50. I believe that some people really do have extrasensory perception.
51. I would have difficulty free-associating to things and letting
my mind wander without guidance or control.
52. When making an important decision, I like to list all of the positive
aspects versus all of the negative aspects of the situation and
compare them before deciding what to do.
53. I have had experiences which inspired me to write a poem or a story,
or make up a humorous tale, or paint a picture.
54. It is possible that ancient civilizations knew secrets of mystical
power which we do not have.
55. I have always enjoyed games of make-believe.
56. Psychedelic art is nonsensical and means nothing to me.
57. I enjoy reading science fiction stories.
58. It is possible that we are influenced by spirits from the past or
by other people who are not physically present.
59. I very seldom spend time imagining what might have been if only
conditions had been different in my past.
60. Abstract art can convey more feeling to me than a conventional
61. I get the best rest on nights when I don't have any dreams.
62. I enjoy concentrating on a fantasy or daydream and exploring all
its possibilities, letting it grow and develop.
63. If I were an artist, I would prefer scientific illustration to
free-form sculpture and painting.
64. I would enjoy creating a social system with laws, etc., for an
imaginary utopian country.
65. It is possible that some places really are cursed or haunted.
66. I seldom indulge in daydreaming or flights of fancy.
67. I do not like to make a hurried decision because I feel upset if
I can't think things through carefully.
68. I enjoy reading poetry that emphasizes feelings and images more
than story line.
69. I have never been aware of mystical sensations or moods surrounding
a certain place.
70. I often imagine long conversations in which I would say to people
what I really wanted to.
71. I don't get much pleasure from poetry or art that has fantastic
images and no recognizable story line or message.
72. At times in my life I have spent a lot of time wondering why I
experience myself as this person in this body and not as someone
73. I enjoy working on "mind twister" type puzzles which require an
unexpected approach to achieve solutions.
74. I often find that if I break away from a problem and think in an
undirected, free-association way, the solution to the problem will
suddenly appear to me.
75. It is possible for some people to experience color through their
finger tips with their eyes closed and identify the color correctly.
76. If I feel my mind starting to drift off into daydreams, I usually
get busy and start concentrating on some work or activity instead.
77. In spare moments, I frequently find myself planning how to carry out
my next job or project.
78. Occasionally I have experienced a state in which it seemed hard to
tell just where the boundary line was between me and my surroundings.
79. I have never been very interested in thinking up idealistic schemes
to improve society.
80. I believe that some of my most productive thinking goes on in dreams
81. I do not have much interest in spiritual or mystical things.
82. Without fantasy and daydreams, life would seem very dull and drab
83. When making a decision, I would rather flip a coin than spend a lot
of time balancing the pros and cons of the situation.
1. There are times when people report a change in their sense of
self. This state is often accompanied by a variety of other
Have you ever felt even for a moment as if you (or some aspect
of you) had changed from your usual sense of reality; or that your
surroundings (or some aspect of your surroundings) had changed from
your usual sense of reality? Please describe in as much detail as
possible any experience of yours which the above statement brings to
mind. If more than one experience comes to mind, please describe the
one that is most typical. If none, please indicate. Take as much
time as you wish.
2. Please indicate under what conditions the experience occurred.
Circle however many items are appropriate.
A. before falling asleep or upon awakening
B. under emotional stress
C. following fatigue
D. as part of a physical illness
D. after a few drinks of alcohol
F. upon looking in a mirror
G. after taking a drug (what kind?)
H. during a phase of feeling depressed or sad
J. with others
K. accompanied by embarrassment
L. during excitement
3. What time of day did the experience occur?
A. early morning
B. late morning
F. all day or more
4. At the time, did your mind seem
A. unusually cloudy
C. partly cloudy and partly clear
4. D. clear
E. unusually clear
5. How long did the experience last?
A. a minute or less
B. 15 minutes or less
C. 1/2 hour to 2 hours
D. several hours (2 12)
E. 1 2 days
F. one week
G. more than one week (how long?
6. How often has the experience occurred in the last year?
Choose the closest number.
A. 0 time (This means more than one year ago.)
B. 1 time
C. 3 times
D. 5 times
E. 10 times
F. 25 times
G. 50 times
H. 100 times
1. more than 100 times
7. How would you describe your feelings about the experience?
A. very negative
B. moderately negative
C. mildly negative
D. neutral neither positive nor negative
E. ambivalent both positive and negative
7. F. mildly positive
G. moderately positive
H. highly positive
If I have any further questions about your description, may I call you?
If yes, please indicate your phone number and the best time to reach
SUMMARY OF STATISTICAL RESULTS
(Dp-yes vs. Dp-no)
1. Aesthetic sensitivity
2. Unusual perceptions
3. Openness to hypo-
4. Constructive utili-
zation of fantasy
5. Openness to unconven-
tional views of
6. Indulgence in fantasy
7. Deliberate and
Hotelling's s 2
Hotelling's t 2
(p < .048) N.S.
(p < .026) (p < .039)
(p < .000) (p < .001)
(p < .016) N.S.
(p < .002) (p < .011)
(p < .022) (p < .001)
(Differences among Dp Frequency groups) n = 17
N.S. (p < .05)
In company of others
Upon falling asleep or awakening
In front of a mirror
Number of conditions
among frequency groups
FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS
I. Did you feel that your surroundings were unreal?
2. Did you feel at the time:
that things you were once used to seemed suddenly strange?
3. that your self awareness seemed different?
4. that you felt like a stranger to yourself or had the feeling of
being 2 people--one going through the motions while the other
5. that (or as if) there was no difference between "me" and "not me."
6. that there was feeling but it was not "me" feeling?
7. I will read you a definition of an experience. Please tell me if
you have had an experience which fits this definition.
[It reads as follows]
"A state in which a person feels completely changed from how he
usually feels. He feels a change in both himself and his world and
sometimes reports feeling as if he had no "self." His actions
seem mechanical, and he watches his actions as if he were someone
else. Things seem unreal.
8. Three descriptions of experiences will follow. If you have experienced
anything like them, please let me know. (If none described skip the
A. While walking down a campus street one afternoon my frame of
reference was suddenly shifted to a point several feet in front
of me and 8-10 feet in the air. Instead of looking forward as
I was while walking I was now looking backwards upon myself.
This lasted for a flash of an instant and was rather frighten-
ing and interesting at the same time. I was watching myself
walk down the street and nothing else was important. (Out-
B. "The most unusual occasion when this occurs is when I am out of
doors. The last time was within the last month or so, I was in
Nottingham with a friend and suddenly as we were walking along,
I seemed to be completely apart from myself. I felt that I was
somewhere above looking down on the scene of which I was a part
and yet not a part. I was walking and talking, as though auto-
matically, I couldn't feel any movement and yet I knew that I
"Everything appeared to be of little importance any more, and
yet all the time I wanted to get back and be completely whole
once more. The experience on this occasion lasted for at least
five minutes, but time as far as I remember passed as usual. We
crossed the road, and although my legs moved with the motion,
I felt that my brain had gone somewhere else and from there
was just watching me.
"I was completely unable to tell whether I myself was still
present or whether I was the part which had gone. In short
there were two different beings, the one watching the other.
"The experience disappeared as suddenly as it had come and
once again I felt complete."
C. I was travelling in a car with my parents. We were in Mt. Dora
which I had never been to before. We turned a corner and suddenly
I had the feeling that I had been there before. Everything
looked very familiar even though I knew I had never seen it
before. Also, as my mother spoke to me, I seemed to know
exactly what she would say next as though I had heard it before.
This lasted for a couple of minutes.
EXAMPLES OF ACCOUNTS OF DEPERSONALIZATION
The following are descriptions obtained in response to the Dp
Questionnaire. Follow-up interviews often helped to certify true
1. On a few different occasions I have had the sensation that I am
actually analyzing my body's purpose from a removed position. It
is almost like my mind is floating just outside of my normal form
and that I am looking at myself as another person might.
At this point I get deeply involved (mentally) in the subject
of whether I actually exist or whether I am actually seeing
myself in a dream and do not exist at all. This usually happens
when I am working on something very decisive in my life, which is
of major importance to me, such as when I was filling out an
application form for entering the U.S. Naval Academy. It was
as if I was wondering whether or not I was actually doing something
of this magnitude or whether it was not me at all but that I was
imagining it all. (male, age 17)
2. I've had quite a few experiences which I'll call "witnessing."
This is the feeling of being totally separate from your body while
it is performing some everyday function or even while talking with
someone else. You watch yourself, but are apart, almost aloof.
I've noticed this kind of experience seemed to happen when I had been
meditating regularly. Also, it usually happened when I was feeling
some tenseness: in the doctor's waiting room, while talking on the
phone to someone I didn't know, etc. (female, age 20)
3. The experience that comes to mind occurred during the birth of my
first child. As the baby was delivered I felt as if I was watching
the process from a "spectator's" position rather than a direct
happening to myself. It was a very strange feeling; somewhat like
watching a movie. I remember being extremely tired but very
determined to remember everything that was taking place. The
feeling was brief and occurred immediately upon the birth of the
baby. When he was handed to me the feeling immediately left.
(female, age 25)
4. While shopping in the mall I felt that while I knew I was really
there and it was really me shopping for a certain item--that I was
observing myself and the other shoppers and I felt that it was all
a dream for an instant. (female, age 47)
5. I was two people--one utterly absorbed in what was happening
and the other watching it happening and wishing "it" would let
go (female, age 26)
Ackner, B. Depersonalization, I. Aetiology and Phenomenology,
Journal of Mental Science, 100 (1954), 838.
Ambrosino, V. Depersonalization: A Review of Rethinking of a Nuclear
Problem, American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 36 (1975), 105.
Bradlow, P. A. Depersonalization, Ego Splitting, Nonhuman Fantasy
and Shame, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54 (1973),
Coan, R. Handbook for the Experience Inventory, University of Arizona,
1977. Mimeograph copy-unpublished.
Davison, K. Episodic Depersonalization, British Journal of Psychiatry,
110 (1964), 505.
Dixon, J. C. Depersonalization Phenomena in a Sample Population of
College Students, British Journal of Psychiatry, 109 (1963), 371.
Eysenck, H. J. and Eysenck, S. B. G. Manual for the Eysenck Personality
Questionnaire. San Diego, Calif.: Educational and Industrial
Testing Service, 1975.
Fleiss, J. L., Gurland, B., and Goldberg, K. Independence of De-
personalization and Derealization, Journal of Consulting and
Clinical Psychology, 43 (1975), 110.
Freeman, A. M. and Melges, F. T. Depersonalization and Temporal
Disintegration in Acute Mental Illness. American Journal of
Psychiatry, 134: 6 (1977), 679.
Goldstone, I. On the Etiology of Depersonalization, Journal of
Nervous and Mental Disease, 105 (1947), 25.
Greenhouse, S. W. and Geisser, S. An Extension of Box's Results on
the Uses of the F Distribution in Multivariate Analysis,
Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 29 (1958), 885.
James, W. Principles of Psychology. Vol. 1. New York: Henry Holt
and Co., 1890.
Kaplan, D. M. On Shyness, International Journal of Psychoanalysis,
53 (1972), 439.
Lewis, N. Criteria for Early Differential Diagnosis of Psychoneurosis
and Schizophrenia, American Journal of Psychotherapy, 3 (1949), 4.
Lower, R. Affect Changes in Depersonalization, Psychoanalytic Review,
59 (1972), 566.
Mayer-Gross, W. On Depersonalization, British Journal of Medical
Psychology, 15 (1935), 103.
Miller, F. and Bashkin, E. Depersonalization and Self Mutilation,
Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 43 (1974), 638.
Myers, D. H. and Grant, C. A Study of Depersonalization in Students,
British Journal of Psychiatry, 121 (1972), 59.
Myers, W. A. Imaginary Companions, Fantasy Twins, Mirror Dreams and
Depersonalization, Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 45 (1976), 503.
Noyes, R., Hoenk, P. R., Kuperman, S., Slymen, D. J. Depersonalization
in Accident Victims and Psychiatric Patients, Journal of Nervous
and Mental Disease, 164(6) (1977), 401.
Noyes, R. and Kletti, R. Depersonalization in the Face of Life-
Threatening Danger: An Interpretation, Omega, 7(2) (1976), 103.
Roberts, W. W. Normal and Abnormal Depersonalization, Journal of Mental
Science, 106 (1960), 478.
Rosenfeld, H. Analysis of a Schizophrenic State with Dp, International
Journal of Psychoanalysis, 28 (1947), 130.
Roth, M. The Phobic Anxiety-Depersonalization Syndrome, Proceedings of
the Royal Medical Society of Medicine (1959), 587.
Sarlin, C. N. Depersonalization and Derealization, Journal of the
American Psychoanalytic Association, 10 (1962), 784.
Sedman, G. Depersonalization in a Group of Normal Subjects. British
Journal of Psychiatry, 112 (1966), 907.
Sedman, G. Theories of Depersonalization: A Reappraisal, British
Journal of Psychiatry, 117 (1970), 1.
Sedman, G. and Reed, G. F. Depersonalization Phenomena in Obsessional
Personalities and in Depression, British Journal of Psychiatry
Silverman, I. The Human Subject in the Psychological Laboratory.
New York: Pergamon Press, Inc., 1977.
Tucker, G. F., Harrow, M., and Quinlan, D. Depersonalization, Dysphoria,
and Thought Disturbance, American Journal of Psychiatry, 130(6)
Elizabeth Kirkley Best was born in Mineral Wells, Texas, in 1954.
She attended elementary and high school in Orlando and Winter Park,
Florida, graduating in 1972. She began studies at the University of
Florida in 1974, and graduated with high honors in 1977. In that same
year she began and is currently enrolled in the Graduate Program in
Psychology at the same university. She has one daughter, Sarah Rose, age 2.
Elizabeth Best currently holds a teaching assistantship in the Depart-
ment of Psychology.
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of
,Vames C. Dixon, Chairman
Professor of Psychology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of
Assistant Professor of Psychology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully
adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of
Professor of English
This thesis was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of
Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate
Council, and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the degree of Master of Arts.
Dean, Graduate School
I 1 262 0111114 II 7072 lll
3 1262 08554 7072
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID EPFM3MHPI_3S866I INGEST_TIME 2012-09-24T12:43:43Z PACKAGE AA00011815_00001
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC