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Genetic Predisposition

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Does this really exist? Can you really be genetically predisposed to dissociation?
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Not sure about pure DP, but would say if your DP is a symptom of anxiety then definitely yes.
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Does this really exist? Can you really be genetically predisposed to dissociation?
For the general construct of dissociation (measured with the Dissociative Experiences Scale) there were twin studies which estimated the roughly 50% of the variance was explained by the genes.

But dissociation by the Dissociative Experiences Scale is a much more general construct and depersonalization is only a relatively small part of it. It's mostly about identity alteration and amnesia.

There are no twin studies for Depersonalization Disorder, so it's unknown how much of it is genetic. But mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD and depression also have a genetic component, so I think it's likely that this is also true for Depersonalization Disorder.
From this paper

" All dissociative disorders currently classified in DSM-IV are characterized by pathological dissociation but differ in the dissociative domains in which symptoms are primarily manifested. Research has revealed that pathological dissociation is a categorically distinct entity from the normal dissociative tendencies that characterize the general population (1), and in a well-designed twin study (2), the genetic heritability estimate for pathological dissociation was zero, suggesting that these conditions may be strongly driven by environmental traumas. It appears that traumatic antecedents play a major role in the pathogenesis of various dissociative disorders, although the age, type, and severity of the traumas involved differs. Putnam and Trickett (3) eloquently described the shifts in self-states and the fragmentation of self and behavior that characterize victims of child abuse. In a review article (4), 26 studies involving 2,108 subjects were compiled exploring the relationship between abuse and dissociation; in this meta-analysis, the effect size of this association was highly significant and independent of the type of abuse."
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I believe it is somewhat genetic (like there is a predisposition to dissociation)....But our parents/guardians played a roll too (during our early developing years)....I also believe it requires a major trauma to kick it into gear (serious panic attack, bad weed or other drug experience, child abuse etc etc)

I believe we all dissociated to some extent when we were younger (maybe because mother screamed alot or father used to be drunk all the time) but it was in a subtle non frightening form......Basically we tuned out from the upsetting things we were hearing and seeing on a constant basis...It gradually became common practice for us to do this in times of fear and stress.....So you could say we never developed proper coping mechanisms...What we developed was a way to tune out psychologically because at a young age we couldnt physically remove ourselves from the toxic environment....

Now you may say "But my dad didnt drink or my folks never fought"....In that case ask yourself this....Did you grow up listening to "You could have done better" or "your not doing that right" or maybe mother was an obsessive cleaner or she herself was an anxious uptight person.....Or maybe there was always money worries in the home....Maybe you were bullied in school........The list goes on..............................................

Ultimately something was constantly frightening us as young children so we chose to push it to the back of our mind......We buried the fear and put on a brave face.......Do this for long enough and it becomes the norm (After all dont they say practice makes perfect)

I believe we inadvertently taught ourselves to cope by dissociating.....We then were constantly in alert mode for threatening and dangerous situations whcih made us anxious people....We didnt realise we were anxious people because it was normal for us to feel that way.......Its no wonder the day came when that major trauma (bad weed trip etc) pushed our tired minds over the edge and into the terrifying merrygoround which is Depersonalization Disorder...

That my friends is what I learned in many years of therapy....Its probably complete crap and it didnt cure my DP but its my theory nonetheless...
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As far as I remember later than 2001 papers appeared where it wasn't zero but approached 50%. I think the paper where there was zero heritability was made by Colin Ross, who is a fraud in my opinion, so I don't trust this paper.
Everyone is born with a certain genetic makeup that affords them more resiliency or susceptibility to harmful environmental factors -- it's whether those factors manifest that makes the difference. Some people are just destined to suffer more based on genetics, but as far as I've learned dissociative disorders are heavily structured by trauma and early environmental circumstances. The way I see it, dissociation is adaptability -- a coping method or defense strategy, as has been suggested. Animals have these as well, except theirs are physical (i.e., a snake's venom, a skunk's spray, an eel's shock). Humans, because we live in a structured society that disallows violence, must resort not to physical actions as defense but instead to the mind. Dissociation just so happens to be one of those techniques, but as is often the case with mental illness, those who suffer from dissociative disorders have abused this technique so much so to where it now harms the host -- just like excess anxiety, stress, thinking, exercise, etc. Too much of anything is never good.

This is just my take based on what I've learned...
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As far as I remember later than 2001 papers appeared where it wasn't zero but approached 50%. I think the paper where there was zero heritability was made by Colin Ross, who is a fraud in my opinion, so I don't trust this paper.
It is not unusual for studies to disagree.

Colin Ross made great efforts to differentiate/distinguish abused people from people suffering schizophrenia - which is absolutely vital for proper treatment. You just don't take an abused person, stuff him with anti-psychotics and belittle him by saying that none of it happened. Am sure many on this forum would agree with that. Yet decades ago that is precisely what was going on, thus the psychiatrist became an extension of the abuser, "don't tell". [ As a side point, schizophrenia and DPD are not mutually exclusive since there have been a few members here with both. ]

No doubt Mr Ross went overboard and offended colleagues with various "MPD" scenarios ... one does not achieve their goal well when acting that way. While it was somewhat amusing his slice-and-dice of Freud regarding some of his abused clients, his humor could cloud his logic of progression of events so that he loses credibility ... which ultimately he has lost support.

The most serious concern/fault seen with the statements of these people and papers is a significant misunderstanding of genetics - or more likely, an improper definition of, or clarification of genetics.

Genetics comes down to this:

  1. Some genes have affects that make a person what they are, such as male/female, black/white/asian, blue-eyed/brown-eyed, etc ...
  2. Other genes merely define strengths and weaknesses - bones may be strong or maybe not-so-strong, muscles may have a lot of fast-twitch fibers or few of them, one may excel and language, yet another at math, art, history, memory, etc...

So if Colin Ross said there is zero heritability, he was pushing his agenda. And the above paper stating that "the genetic heritability estimate for pathological dissociation was zero" and "driven by environmental traumas" clouds the second point about genetics. Genetics absolutely affect ones response to environmental stresses. One person goes to war and seems ok-ish while another who may even have seen far less actual brutality ends up with PTSD.

To further complicate this all, both genetics and environmental stressors compound themselves and each other. It would seem that the above paper was speaking in context of a purely hereditary condition that has nothing to do with 'stress' or abuse.

Does this really exist? Can you really be genetically predisposed to dissociation?
I can relate two specific personal genes regarding psychological/neurological difficulties. First, though, will clarify that I do not suffer DP in the way many members here report - I feel all my emotions but have great difficulties feeling positive emotions from others (but of course have the little hell of feeling negativity from others). This has been life time. As for DR, this I experience as the sense of some kind of invisible barrier between what is seen and self. This 'sensation' is felt even when eyes are closed. It is as though there is a constant, great struggle to connect - even though in practical terms I DO see and perceive. This latter has been since a terrible neurological event.

#1 Genes that cause difficulty feeling positive emotions from others. This has been identified as the involvement of genes DRD2/ANKK1 Taq1A. While complex, essentially it make it easier for a person to surcome to depressive moods and disorders - it does not make a person depressed. With genetic testing, and confirmed by positive responses to strong D2 agonist medications, this explains a lifetime problem and a medical intervention for it. You can read more about this gene combination in and in

#2 As for the genes involved in DR, this is still being investigated. However a significant factor came to light 3 months ago. Turns out there is a genetic problem converting thiamine to the forms the body needs metabolically. The difficulties from this genetic problem are resolved by taking a form of thiamine that is directly usable by the body, which is what am now doing. It has reduced DR and many other issues, but has not 'cured' everything. However, had this problem not been identified, I would likely have died from arrhythmias within a couple years ... just as my mom did also in her mid 50s. [ Because so many with HPPD have had positive effects from this form of thiamine, I posted information here ]

Don't know if this post makes sense to anyone, but it comes down to: while DPD is too complex to be just a few simple genes, IMO there will be genes found that leave a person more susceptible to this dreadful problem and its various permutations. Also since many DPers have it from drugs, just as HPPDers do, this indicates a neurological (genetic) weakness that may be involved with these persons.
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100% genetic, and was triggered by MJ/stress
100% genetic, and was triggered by MJ/stress
Forgot what MJ was ... so Googled it and got:

  • "The megajoule (MJ) is equal to one million (106) joules, or approximately the kinetic energy of a one-tonne vehicle moving at 160 km/h (100 mph)..." - Electroconvulsive therapy ???
  • Then got "Michael Jackson" - did you get stressed by being a 'guest' at Neverland Ranch? ... oh, dear !
  • Finally found 'weed' ... dah, got it now. Visual is real fast on the gray matter

Your Icon expresses the accomplishment of mankind well. Here is another 'evolutionary' thought

Then there is always the circle of life thingy ...


If MADness is genetic, Alfred E Neuman's got all the right moves. And he has just the right attitude to deal with anxiety

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So interestingly enough, my sister had DP for about a month after a panic attack.
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