Dysfunctional Families: Depersonalization Disorder

Dysfunctional Families: Depersonalization Disorder

Most of my clients at disinherited.com come from what generally might be described as dysfunctional families that ultimately result in a disinheritance for a number of complex reasons.

Part of my job as an estate litigation lawyer is to try and understand the complexity of the family from which my client has presented him or herself so that I can better both understand the client and the potential approach to resolution of their claim.

I occasionally am told by a client of that his or her parent was unable to express any feelings of love or warmth, especially to his or her children.

The emotional coldness may be caused by any number of factors, but could also be as a result of a depersonalization disorder from which approximately 1 and 100 people suffer.

I am certainly not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I am not quick to put a label on what caused my client’s parental emotional abuse, and lack of love, but when I hear such a factual scenario, I sometimes think of this disorder, which results in the person suffering from a sense of disconnect from the world around them, their own body, and particularly those to which they should express love and affection.

As previously stated, a person’s inability to show love or affection may be caused by any number of emotional factors that result in a different label, such as a narcissistic personality disorder (which I have written about in separate blogs).

Depersonalization disorder, strictly speaking is where the person has persistent feelings of being disconnected or detached from oneself, and a feeling of loss or control over their thoughts or actions.
Their actions are often described as “out of body”

They may perceive their surroundings as dreamlike, foggy and distorted. An actual diagnosis is very difficult due to the ambiguity of the language used when describing such episodes.

Although the disorder is a distortion of reality, it is not a form of psychosis as the person is able to distinguish between their own experiences and the objective reality of the real world.. In other words, they can distinguish between reality and fantasy.

The diagnosis typically is made when the symptoms cause family distress, or impair social or occupational functioning.

The depersonalization experienced is such that the person feels completely disconnected from their physical body and their loved ones, feeling detached from their own thoughts and emotions and living their lives as distant from others.

The exact cause of the depersonalization is not known, but childhood abuse is suspected, along with severe stress, major depressive disorder and hallucinogenic drugs.

Men and women appear to be diagnosed in equal numbers and onset is typically in the teenage years or early 20s.

The 6 most common signs of a depersonalization disorder are:

  1. A feeling of no connection to the person that is seen in a mirror
  2. a feeling of detachment from one’s environment- the feeling is a disconnection from the world, but also an unfamiliarity with individuals and inanimate objects and all surroundings
  3. a feeling of being “ robot like”
  4. a complete separation feeling from one’s body, as if wound up in cotton and the body is lifeless;
  5. a feeling that one’s memories belong to someone else
  6. knowing that you are not delusional, but that there is something wrong with the way you view the world

Trevor Todd

Trevor Todd is one of the province’s most esteemed estate litigation lawyers. He has spent more than 40 years helping the disinherited contest wills and transfers – and win. From his Kerrisdale office, which looks more like an eclectic art gallery than a lawyer’s office, Trevor empowers claimants and restores dignity to families across BC. He is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and an art buff who supports starving artists the world over. He has an eye for talent and a heart for giving back.

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