Interpretative phenomenological analysis of depersonalization and derealization states in clinical and nonclinical groups - SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities

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Research

Most people may experience altered states of consciousness, such as depersonalization or derealization. These phenomena involve feeling separated from one's own body and mind or experiencing the environment as unreal or dream-like. These states may result from physical exhaustion, using substances, trance techniques or be the aftermath of traumatic events. Clinicians must be able to differentiate depersonalization and derealization in healthy people from the pathological forms of these episodes. Researchers from SWPS University study these complex phenomena to help healthcare professionals recognize the different forms of depersonalization and derealization to understand them in relation to various clinical presentations.

RESEARCH PROJECT

Interpretative phenomenological analysis

of Depersonalization and Derealization States in Clinical and Nonclinical Groups

 

 

Research UnitUNI SWPS english
Grant AmountPLN 1 050 209
Funding SourceNCN logo poziom en2

Duration of Research Project: April 2018 – April 2022

 

Most people may experience altered states of consciousness, such as depersonalization or derealization. These phenomena involve feeling separated from one's own body and mind or experiencing the environment as unreal or dream-like. These states may result from physical exhaustion, using substances, trance techniques or be the aftermath of traumatic events. Clinicians must be able to differentiate depersonalization and derealization in healthy people from the pathological forms of these episodes. Researchers from SWPS University study these complex phenomena to help healthcare professionals recognize the different forms of depersonalization and derealization to understand them in relation to various clinical presentations.

Project Outline

Objectives

Alterations in consciousness are common experiences in healthy individuals as well as in patients with various mental disorders. Depersonalization (a sense of detachment from one’s mind or body) and derealization (experiencing the outside world as dream-like or unreal) can have different intensity and appear in different situations, for example during meditation, religious practices or during intense workout.

These states can also be a natural reaction to a traumatic experience, when the mind separates from the overwhelming events and feelings as a form of dealing with the trauma.

Some forms of depersonalization and derealization take on a chronic form, they are significantly dysfunctional, cause distress, and are regarded as pathological. However, there are no studies comparing both healthy and pathological states of depersonalization/derealization, or their relationship to trauma, and ways in which individuals experience them.

Research Methods and Application of Results

As part of this project, structured clinical interviews will be conducted with 40 healthy participants (people who practice extreme sports and members of charismatic prayer groups) and with 100 psychiatric patients suffering from a variety of mental disorders, to analyze and compare their personal experiences of depersonalization and derealization.

Such studies are necessary to help clinicians recognize and diagnose these different states of consciousness, which may indicate trauma-related disorders. As a consequence, it will lead to a better diagnosis and referral of patients to treatment.

Research Team

258 igor pietkiewicz 1

 

Igor Pietkiewicz, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
Psychotherapist  supervisor of the Polskie Towarzystwo Psychiatryczne and board member of the European Society for Trauma & Dissociation
biogram »

258 radoslaw tomalski

 

Radosław Tomalski, Ph.D., MD

Psychiatrist, psychotherapist and supervisor of the Polskie Towarzystwo Psychiatryczne

agnieszka bandura

 

Anna Bańbura, M.A.

Psychologist, psychotherapist undergoing a certificate training, research project assistant

258 szymon necki

 

Szymon Nęcki, M.A.

Psychologist, research project assistant

258 Helka Anna

 

Anna Hełka, Ph.D.

Business psychologist, specializes in the problem of the impact of situational and personality factors on economic behavior and human resource management

 

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