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Massage Therapy Case Study on Depersonalization Disorder

5691 Views 0 Replies 0 Participants Last post by  ThoughtOnFire
I am in Massage Therapy College right now. For my Case Study in Pathology 1 class, I chose Depersonalization Disorder. First of all I recommend Massage Therapy as a way to connect to your body, find grounding and reduce stress from DP/DR. Here's my report:

Case Report
Pathology 1
In this Case Study for Depersonalization Disorder we will​
investigate as to how Massage Therapy Bodywork might affect​
dissociative symptoms. Depersonalization can make one feel out of​
their body. We will find that Massage can and does provide grounding​
for those afflicted with Depersonalization Disorder.​


My case report for Pathology 1 is on Depersonalization​
Disorder. Depersonalization Disorder is a form of dissociation. Most​
people feel it once or twice some time in their lifetime. When​
Depersonalization becomes chronic is when it's classified as a​
Disorder. Depersonalization is a very disturbing experience to go​
Depersonalization, or DP, is a debilitating sensation and state​
of mind. The symptoms of DP include 1) Feeling outside of one's​
body 2) Feeling that one's own limbs are detached 3) Being in a​
constant state of anxiety and or panic attacks 4) Having a "Blank​
Mind" 5) Feeling that one's personality has disappeared 6)​
Obsessing over Philosophically Existential Questions about Reality.​
DP also can come with Derealization, or DR, which is feeling that​
the World is Unreal, and can even look Cartoony.​
The exact cause and reason for DP becoming a Constant has​
evaded researchers. And in fact, Depersonalization is the third most​
common psychological negative experience next to Depression and​
Anxiety. Many people have and most will experience DP in their​
lifetime. It is the "Fight or Flight" Protective Mechanism felt​
during/after a car accident or traumatic event. Drugs can alter a​
person's perception to become dissociated, for a time, as well.​
However for some, after a traumatic event or excessive stress​
coupled with anxiety and or panic attacks and "bad trips" on illegal​
substances can trigger an episode of DP that simply doesn't fade​
away, this is when DP becomes DPD - Depersonalization Disorder.​
This condition can and does persist and last for years and years,​
defying explanation. Unfortunately there is no current pill for DPD.​
However anti-anxiety medications, benzodiazepines, can provide​
relief, at the cost of becoming dependent, where later withdrawal​
can and will exacerbate the feelings of Unreality.​
Many in the fields of psychology, therapy and psychiatry are​
still unaware of the prevalence and widespread undiagnosed or​
misdiagnosed numbers of people out there suffering with DPD. In​
most cases, the dissociation of DPD happens in an instant. One​
might take a hit of marijuana and suddenly becoming dissociated​
from one's body, mind and spirit. Then going to sleep, this person​
will believe it's part of the High, and they'll think that they will feel​
normal again in the morning. Only to wake up and discover it hasn't​
gone away. And the feelings of depersonalization and derealization can​
linger for days, months, years and even decades which is often the case​
before the disorder fades completely.​
DPD is always a cause of suffering in a person's life. For many it is​
like having a splinter one's mind that simply cannot be removed or​
ignored. It's a debilitating disorder which is constantly in the sufferer's​
mind and makes concentration, focus and peace of mind a far away​
goal. Many of those with DPD have looked for relief and recovery, with​
no avail. It seems to be something that one just has to endure until in​
time it goes away on it's own accord, just as it came for most, out of the​

My objective is to alleviate and diminish some of the symptoms of​
Depersonalization Disorder. Providing a grounding effect through​
Bodywork Massage Therapy, granting those with DPD an opportunity to​
feel their bodies being worked on for an hour. Over many sessions, the​
sufferer of DPD should begin to feel more in their body. What I am​
wanting to show is that bodywork is effective for those with​
dissociative symptoms, but not a cure all, while still being a successful​
treatment for those who suffer with DPD.​
While physical modalities will be the focus of this case study, I'm​
not ruling out the possibility of energetic modalities providing ease of​
suffering. The primary goal is to achieve a certain level of physical​
body awareness in the client. Energetic work could help support any​
emotional or spiritual releases that a Depersonalized Person may​
require, though the aim of this study is to support mainly the physical,​
and possibly also emotional/spiritual as well through physical​

The Hypothesis of this case study is that the dissociative​
symptoms of Depersonalization Disorder will be lessened through​
regular sessions of Massage Therapy. The client will gain a fair amount​
of bodily awareness throughout the treatment sessions. This increased​
body awareness could even help pave the client's way to recovery from​
DPD, or dissociative symptoms in general.​
During and after a massage, the client will likely feel more in their​
body. This will ease quite a lot off the mind of the person with DPD.​
This will most likely take away much of their stress, providing mental​
clarity as well. Emotionally & spiritually they will also feel more at​
peace with.​
Regular Massage combined with other factors such as good diet,​
exercise and abstinence from harmful habits and addictions, the client​
could be setting up a great path towards overcoming this disorder. And​
perhaps more importantly, the client before, during and after​
recovering from DPD will have laid the foundation for a healthy and​
successful life. Because a person isn't defined by a label, but how they​
choose to live despite the disorder, or not.​

Client Profile & Treatment Plan​
The client here is the student writing this Case Study. I have been​
experiencing Depersonalization Disorder for over 11 years now. I am a​
27 year old male, and am in good health physically. I will be having​
regular Bodywork sessions done and keeping track on how this​
treatment will be effecting the sensations of feeling out of body.​
Since I was 16 I've felt dissociated from my body. This has been​
literally non-stop ever since. While in High School I struggled to​
graduate due to the symptoms effecting my abilities of concentration.​
Before I had DPD, things were no problem for me. And since I've had​
DPD, even the small things are a constant struggle. I feel out of my body​
24/7 and it is in it's own way very much a painful experience.​
Overall I'd say I'm quite healthy despite the disorder. I do have​
several bad habits that I'd obviously be better without, such as​
smoking tobacco. I get regular exercise and have great blood pressure​
I will be receiving regular massage, both in and out of school that​
will give me an idea of how bodywork effects the symptoms of​
dissociation. Both Swedish Massage and Shiatsu will be the modalities​
involved in the treatment plan. Having already had sessions in and out​
of school, I can safely say already that Bodywork most certainly does​
have positive influence over the out of body sensations.​

The Results of this Case Study were a Success. Through Bodywork​
I have gained a greater awareness of being a physical body. The​
treatment of massage for my dissociative symptoms is ongoing. I will be​
recommending massage to all with DPD.​
Hands on massage therapy helps to directly ground one into their​
body. Not only receiving massage, but giving massage as well and​
working with one's hands in general also has a lasting benefit of​
grounding into one's body.​
Massage is most definitely an effective treatment for some of the​
symptoms for DPD. In fact this is one of the reasons I wanted to get into​
this field. And I began noticing changes in my awareness and those​
dissociative symptoms of DPD, since the very beginning of being in​
Massage School. Not only the fact that massage brings one to be​
attentive of their physicality, also building Character and developing as​
an Individual, has been received through the process of School. I​
recommend massage for everyone, in some form or another. There is​
definitely something about Therapeutic Touch, this cannot be said​

While Massage Therapy is a booming industry, I feel that there is​
definitely a very long way to go still. As far as Bodywork goes for​
Depersonalization Disorder, there is definitely room for research.​
Though it is quite a matter of common sense that such a treatment​
would be beneficial for those feeling outside or detached from their​
bodies, or even feeling "too much in their heads". And I feel that for​
anyone, massage being a great thing is an obvious thing. I find that it's​
the simple things that are right in front of us that hold the most​
relevance to our lives. And it is the simple things in life that provide the​
most healthy pleasure, massage being one of those simple things. And​
for someone who feels that life has been stripped of meaning with DPD​
in it's place, simple things such as massage are where one finds solace.​
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