A Crash Course in Depersonalization

Depersonalization is like having amnesia.  You don’t know who you are, you’ve “lost” yourself– your identity or your personality.  You try to jump-start yourself.  You pray, make deals with God, but it doesn’t help.  You are stuck.

There is a pervading feeling, like doom.  It saturates your thinking, flavoring everything with a sense of finality.  It is as difficult as you can imagine, to lose yourself– to become unreal to yourself.

Depersonalization is a symptom of an anxiety disorder and not a stand alone condition. How do we know this? Because depersonalization cannot exist without anxiety BUT anxiety can exist without depersonalization.

Depersonalization is caused by a shift in the part of the brain that provides us with a ‘real’ awareness of our environment; this part of the brain is directly linked to the Amygdala, the organ in the brain responsible for anxiety.

Terms commonly used to describe the symptoms and sensations of Depersonalization:

  • unreal
  • disembodied
  • divorced from oneself
  • apart from everything
  • unattached
  • alone
  • strange
  • weird
  • foreign
  • unfamiliar
  • dead
  • puppet-like
  • robot-like
  • acting a part
  • like a lifeless person
  • two dimensional
  • ‘cardboard’ figure
  • made of cotton-wool
  • having mechanical actions
  • remote
  • automated, a robot
  • a spectator
  • witnessing ones own actions as if in a film or on a TV program
  • not doing one’s own thinking
  • observing the flow of ideas in the mind as independent.

Treatment is to deal with the anxiety, depersonalization, although disturbing in itself, is not harmful. [Although the experts have never had to go through it].

As a Christian believer I reach out for the presence of God in this mental state.  Even though it is hard, I reach out in faith on the basis of His word; He will never leave or forsake me, He has forgiven me and not abandoned me.  That He understands my thinking from afar off.  These truths all strengthen me.

Published by Pastor Bryan Lowe

A repentant rascal with definite issues, but who is seeking to be authentic in his faith to Jesus Christ. An avid reader and a hopeful writer. Husband and father. A pastor and Bible teacher. A brain tumor survivor. Diagnosed with clinical depression, and now disabled. Enjoys life, such as it is, in Alask.a (Actually I have it pretty good.)

6 thoughts on “A Crash Course in Depersonalization

  1. Thank you for this word Bryan.
    Have you gone through this?
    I’m ten years into this battle (off and on) and having another flair up.
    I pray for this to be done forever but it just won’t end.
    Constant anxiety about being away from home, bridges, tunnels, being alone,.closed spaces, elevators, etc.
    I’ve seen many therapists. Some help, some don’t.
    I’m looking for a Christian perspective..



    1. My own experience seems to be that my depersonalization comes out of my anxiety. Anxiety is the root, DP is the fruit. I have deal with the root.

      DP is very disturbing to me. The experience is hellish to say the least. Reality and personhood, my awareness of myself all get messed up. I don’t know who I am.

      I have been victimized by a mindset, I call “the Truman Show,” the one with Jim Carrey in it. In it I am the only one who is real, everyone around me and everything that happens to me is fabricated. Everything is make believe. Its a form of DP, but with a strange twist.

      If I think of a resource, esp. a Christian one, I will let you know. As far as I’ve seen, very little is out there for believers with DP.



  2. Thank you, I dealt with this a couple of years ago for about 5 months or so. It went away gradually but a week ago it came back. It is such a horrible thing, especially as a Christian. I definitely can agree it must come from anxiety. Becuase the two co-exist and make each other worse. I have been praying all day today actually, it is a tough thing to deal with.

    God bless you, and I hope these feelings dont last.


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