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:
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
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.