What is the Difference Between Dissociation and Depersonalization

The main difference between dissociation and depersonalization is that dissociation is a general term that refers to disconnecting from one’s own feelings, thoughts, memories, or a sense of identity, whereas depersonalization is a specific type of dissociation where one’s thoughts and feelings seem to be unreal or not to belong to oneself.

Dissociation is a sense of disconnect from one’s own feelings, thoughts, memories, or a sense of identity. When a person undergoes frequent dissociation, especially on a severe scale, he or she might be diagnosed with dissociative disorders. Depersonalization is a specific type of dissociation.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Dissociation  
     – Definition, Features
2. What is Depersonalization
     – Definition, Features, Symptoms 
3. Difference Between Dissociation and Depersonalization
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Dissociation, Depersonalization, Dissociative Disorder, Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder

Difference Between Dissociation and Depersonalization - Comparison Summary

What is Dissociation

Dissociation is the mental process of disconnecting from one’s own feelings, thoughts, memories, or a sense of identity. When you dissociate, you feel disconnected from yourself and those around you. You may feel that you are outside of your body or that the world around you is real. Dissociation is a method your mind uses to cope with too much stress or trauma. Many people experience dissociation in their life. Those experiencing a traumatic event (abuse, accident, war, etc.) feel some degree of dissociation during the traumatic event itself or in its aftermath. The feeling of dissociation can last for days or even weeks. Different individuals may experience dissociation in different ways. For most people, dissociation resolves without the need for medical help. But some people develop dissociative disorders and need medical help to overcome them.

Dissociation vs Depersonalization

When a person undergoes frequent dissociation, especially on a severe scale, he or she might be diagnosed with dissociative disorders. Dissociative disorders can disrupt the normal life of a person. Furthermore, dissociative identity disorder, depersonalization disorder, dissociative amnesia, and dissociative fugue are some types of dissociative disorders.

What is Depersonalization

Depersonalization or depersonalization disorder is a type of dissociative disorder. It is now formally known as depersonalization-derealization disorder or DDD. Depersonalization involves how a person relates to himself, while derealization involves how a person relates to other people and things around you. Moreover, a person experiencing depersonalization will feel that he is not real or what is around him is not real. He might find himself in a dream-like state or in a state where he observes his body from the outside.  Depersonalization can be a symptom of another issue like substance abuse, personality disorder, or brain disease.

Symptoms of Depersonalization

  • Feeling as if you are outside of your body
  • Feeling detached from yourself
  • Numbness in mind
  • Feeling as if you have no control over what you do or say
  • Difficulty in attaching emotion to memory

Moreover, for some people, these symptoms are mild and persist for a short period of time. But for some others, symptoms are chronic and last for many years. Depersonalization can also trigger anxiety, depression, and panic. Like dissociation, depersonalization can also be caused due to trauma.

Difference Between Dissociation and Depersonalization

Definition

Dissociation is a general term that refers to disconnecting from one’s own feelings, thoughts, memories, or a sense of identity, whereas depersonalization is a specific type of dissociation where one’s thoughts and feelings seem to be unreal or not to belong to oneself.

Nature

Moreover, dissociation is a broad category that includes conditions like depersonalization, derealization, dissociative identity disorder, and dissociative amnesia. Therefore, depersonalization is a specific type of dissociation.

Conclusion

Dissociation is a general term that refers to disconnecting from one’s own feelings, thoughts, memories, or a sense of identity, whereas depersonalization is a specific type of dissociation where one’s thoughts and feelings seem to be unreal or not to belong to oneself. Therefore, this is the main difference between dissociation and depersonalization.

Reference:

1. Raypole, Crystal. “Depersonalization Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Support.” Healthline, Healthline Media.
2. “Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders.” Better Health Channel.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Surreal-dream-face-woman-dreams” (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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