‘I’m not me’: Rare depersonalization disorder leaves patients feeling disconnected from their bodies

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Image: Kathleen Young

I would stare at my hands and think, “I’m not me.” No matter where I was, in the middle of a busy street or at my dining table at home, the condition would be the same. It was like looking at my hands through a plate of glass.

I was suffering from depersonalization, a neglected and little-understood disorder.

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According to studies in the United States and Britain, depersonalization affects 2 percent of the population — 6.4 million in the United States and 1.3 million people in Britain. This is about the same as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, conditions that are much better understood. Although the disorder’s criteria has been expanded in the latest edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5), it is still largely neglected by doctors as a condition in its own right.

Cognitive behavior therapy is the most common form of treatment, despite mixed results. This involves emotion mapping and processing, along with charting the origin of the self in childhood with its associated image-memories. The idea is for the patient to build a bridge between “I” and “myself.”

Read full, original post: ‘I’m not me’: A bizarre disorder leaves people feeling distant from their bodies

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