Alterations in consciousness are common experiences in healthy individuals and patients with 
a variety mental disorders. Such states may also be natural reactions to traumatic experiences,

and accompanied by dissociative symptoms, when the mind detaches itself from overwhelming feelings and one’s surroundings to survive. Depersonalization (a sense of detachment from one’s mind or body) and derealization (experiencing the external world as dreamlike or unreal) can be experienced with different intensity and in various contexts, for example, during meditation, religious practices or intense sports exhaustion.

Some forms of depersonalization and derealization are chronic, significantly dysfunctional, cause distress, and are regarded as pathological. Yet there are no empirical studies that compare normal and pathological depersonalization / derealization, how they relate to trauma, and how individuals subjectively experience them.

In this project, structured clinical interviews with trauma survivors are conducted, video-recorded and analysed by the research team to explore personal experiences of depersonalisation, derealisation, and dissociation. Such studies are necessary to help clinicians recognise and diagnose dissociation and alterations in consciousness characteristic of trauma-related disorders, subsequently leading to better diagnostics, referral, and treatment.

This project offers you: free-of-charge assessment of dissociative symptoms and diagnostics towards a dissociative disorder, a comprehensive report about your symptoms which you can share with your doctor or therapist, and an opportunity to discuss your problems and recommendations for treatment.

The project is financed by the National Science Centre in Poland, grant number: 2016/22/E/HS6/00306.

Research team:
Igor Pietkiewicz, Ph.D.; Radosław Tomalski, M.D., Ph.D.; Suzette Boon, Ph.D.; Onno van der Hart, Ph.D.; Anna Bańbura, M.Sc.; Szymon Nęcki, M.Sc.; Anna Hełka, Ph.D.