Depersonalization Support Forum banner
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

· Registered
25 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There?s no way of knowing for sure, of course, but I think that DP must be primarily a modern phenomenon. To quote psychologist Rollo May: ??the ?typical? kind of psychic problem in our day is not hysteria, as it was in Freud?s time, but?the problem of persons who are detached, unrelated, lacking in affect, tending towards depersonalization, and covering up their problems by means of intellectualizations and technical formulations?.There is also plenty of evidence that the sense of isolation, the alienation of one?s self from the world is suffered not only by people in pathological conditions, but by countless ?normal? persons as well in our day.?

We live today in environments that are almost wholly artificial?modern cities. But for most of his existence, man has lived in nature, and prior to modern times, even the city dweller maintained some contact with nature. Living in nature, man is surrounded by something larger than himself, that which is non-human?what is for him the Other. He is continually conditioned and taught by it; it grounds him in reality and keeps his ego in check. Living in modern cities, virtually everything that we come into contact with is a product of human invention or artifice. This means that environmentally, we live inside the human mind. We have little contact with the Other; we live a sealed-off existence. On an individual level, this leads people to dissociate from their bodies and leaves them living inside their minds. The degree to which this happens is different for different people, but it happens to some degree in everyone. Depersonalization disorder is but an extreme expression of this.

A big part of the reason for this is that compared to a natural environment, a city is a highly impoverished source of sensory stimulation. A child or an animal growing up in a city receives far, far less amount and variety of sensory stimulation than one growing up in nature, and since the brain and body require this stimulation for their full development, the modern person does not develop to the extent found in previous generations. Our bodies are designed to find their grounding in nature, and to live cut off from nature is, to some extent, like living a sensory deprivation experience. And sensory deprivation causes insanity; it causes depersonalization.

Another big part of this scenario is television. I think the most dangerous thing about television, at least the way it is used today, is not the content of the programs, but rather certain qualities of the medium itself, combined with the fact that it makes up such a large part of our experience (the average American child watches four hours per day). The thing about my experience of TV that bothers me the most is the fact that I believe that what I?m seeing is true. It usually takes an effort on my part to be conscious that what I?m seeing is people acting?to not just know it intellectually, but to actually perceive it. One big reason we believe that what we?re seeing is real is because we cannot see outside the frame. If we?re in a theater watching a play, we see not only the action but also the physical reality beyond the frame?the theater itself. We cannot help but be aware that what we?re seeing is acting. The only time we get that with television is when we watch a ?behind the scenes? segment, which shows a movie or show actually being shot. Sometimes the segment will show the normal perspective of the movie or show, and then the camera will pan back to show the reality beyond what is normally the frame?the director, the cameras, the people working on the shot. Or sometimes at the end of a movie you?ll see outtakes, in which the actors stop acting their roles and revert to their normal personae. In these moments of switching from the one perspective to the other, we suddenly become aware that we were/are watching acting. For me, this is always a shock, and I sit wondering at the fact that I was so thoroughly fooled.

I believe that when we spend so much time, especially in the formative years of our lives, experiencing something that is make-believe and believing on a perceptual level that it is real, that those actors are really the roles they are acting and that they are really doing those things, that this must have a profound effect on our perception of reality. In a TV show or movie, everything is scripted; everyone knows exactly what to do and say. Also, most everything one sees is really a fa?ade, from the sets to the characters, so it?s kind of a two-dimensional reality. And we skip around from place to place and from time period to time period in a way that is very different from real life. But when we?re continually experiencing a scripted show as reality, this must create enormous psychic conflict in us as we are living our lives in the world. I think that all this is a big part of the reason for a shift that has occurred in modern times in the way that people perceive their lives: part of us is always standing outside ourselves, watching our lives in the same way that we watch television. In a very fundamental way, we?re not involved in our lives anymore; we watch them like we are acting in a TV show or a movie. And I don?t have to tell the people on this forum how very like DP this is, how in DP that kind of detached watching becomes the basic way of experiencing reality. So I think that the way we use television is itself enormously ungrounding and depersonalizing. And it?s all the more damaging because, suffering from the sensory deprivation that comes with living in artificial environments, we attempt to use television to fill in the gaps. We try to use it to provide the reality that?s missing--often it?s the most stimulating thing around--only it?s NOT reality.

(That quote from Rollo May is from 1958, by the way. How much farther along are we today in creating the kind of environments and lifestyles that foster alienation and depersonalization.)

· Registered
13 Posts
Very interesting opinions and ideas. I've thought about this many times. It reminds me of a book I once read called the Human Zoo by Desmond Morris. It was a long time ago but I remember it talked a lot about tribal communities of the past which have now become "supertribes" as a result of a soaring population. I come from Canada and now live in China. It's been quite a transition from the open spaces to a place where space is so valuable and overlapping. In big cities such as the one I now live in, our senses are constantly assaulted by an onslaught of distraction or sensory pollution. I often find myself wound up to the highest pitch. There's the noise pollution which causes enormous mental exhaustion, air pollution, all the lights, sights and sounds that we respond to mechanically. I'm sure that these are contributing to this phenomena or epidemic. You mentioned how we've become disconnected from nature, also we've become disconnected in many ways from our families and our community. Over here in China everyone has a mobile phone, the internet cafe's are always full 24 hrs! Most peoples hobbies are talking on the net or playing those "virtual reality" games. What I'm getting at is that there is very little face to face interactions, and those exchanges that are, are for the most part very trivial. And so we are becoming more and more isolated living in our cybernetic worlds. I've often wondered if this is just another phase of evolution. It's ironic how in our attempt at expanding our global cultural efficientcy and communications we've become so disconnected not only from the earth and nature but also from our loved ones. I feel alone because I don't share in the optimism of the common goal for which we strive. How can I possibly contribute to the destruction of all that is sacred to me?

· Registered
25 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, those are really good points. There are so many aspects of modern city life that contribute to mental illness and dissociation. Pollution weakens our bodies. Plus, although it is believed in our culture that we are separate from our environment, there is really no separation. Mind, body, and world are all one. We treat the our bodies as we treat the world, and the degree to which we are trashing the world is almost beyond perceiving. Living in huge population groups is a big one. Imagine the difference between living in a small tribe, where everyone knows you and you know everyone, and living virtually anonymously, constantly surrounded by strangers, known to only a few, where there is no real sense of community. And then to drop personal computers and the Internet into this way of life, which removes even more personal contact.

As for where it's all headed...I don't think we can keep going in that direction. As you said, so much of what throughout the existence of man has been sacred is dead or dying. But I do believe that there is a purpose behind all this chaos, that it is the birth process of bringing a new consciousness into the world. And birth can be enormously messy, painful, bloody, frightening, and chaotic.

· Registered
669 Posts
I don't understand people who try to blame society for their problems. Society is obviously perfect the way it is. This type of out of the box thinking is a result of biological malfunctions that cause you to have treasonous thoughts. Please, just listen to you're doctor and take you're medication. It will reorient you're consciousness until you realize that you are the problem, everything outside you is ok.

If you continue to think this way, I suggest you commit yourself immediately to a mental hospital.


· Registered
669 Posts
Obligatory mental-masturbatory radiohead reference

Fitter, happier, more productive,
not drinking too much,
regular exercise at the gym
(3 days a week),
getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries,
at ease,
eating well
(no more microwave dinners and saturated fats),
a patient better driver,
a safer car
(baby smiling in back seat),
sleeping well
(no bad dreams),
no paranoia,
careful to all animals
(never washing spiders down the plughole),
keep in contact with old friends
(enjoy a drink now and then),
will frequently check credit at (moral) bank (hole in the wall),
favors for favors,
fond but not in love,
charity standing orders,
on Sundays ring road supermarket
(no killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants),
car wash
(also on Sundays),
no longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows
nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate,
nothing so childish - at a better pace,
slower and more calculated,
no chance of escape,
now self-employed,
concerned (but powerless),
an empowered and informed member of society
(pragmatism not idealism),
will not cry in public,
less chance of illness,
tires that grip in the wet
(shot of baby strapped in back seat),
a good memory,
still cries at a good film,
still kisses with saliva,
no longer empty and frantic like a cat tied to a stick,
that's driven into frozen winter shit
(the ability to laugh at weakness),
healthier and more productive
a pig in a cage on antibiotics.
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.