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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all

My case may be unusual for this site , I really don't know. But when i first experienced DP/DR it was very intense. Working at a job to support myself, like many people here seem to do, was absolutely out of the question. I got to the point that i couldn't even take care of my physical hygiene. I was in the mental hospital and i had to be forced to shower. As it was the sensations I had when I tried to brush my teeth were so wierd as to be horrifying. I stopped brushing my teeth and ended up with sixteen cavities (decays) when I eventually went to a dentist a year or two later after I was able to function well enough to leave the hospital. I beleive to this day that I suffered a "psychotic break". Not just DP, although feelings of extreme DP/DR were prominent features of my experience. It is my understanding that DP/DR are prominent features of most, if not all, the major mental/nervous disorders.

I have seen several therapists over the years and three of them said that what I experienced was a "schizophrenic reaction". When I had my major "nervous breakdown" I was under extreme stress do to outer circumstances in my life.

While I was legitimately unable to work following my breakdown and legitimately entitled to begin recieving SSI psychiatric disability, for a number of years now I have felt that while i still don't feel I would be able to work on a full time basis, I do feel I am able to work part time, like a couple hours per day. I have heard that many former mental patients feel as I do. But as in my case the Government (U.S.) seems to think that if one is able to work on a part time basis they no longer are eligible for SSI and Medical coverage. I wouldn't mind having part of the amount I earned deducted from my monthly check but it doesn't work that way except in a temporary manner. That is, for so many months one can work and still remain eligible for SSI benefits but after that time is up one is re evaluated and will in all liklihood be found no longer "dis abled." There is no middle ground, either one is dis abled or they are not. I feel somewhat guilty for recieving this tax supported source of income each month, yet on the other hand I feel certain that full time work is beyond my capacity. When I was re evaluated last time by a state appointed "shrink" he stated in his report that I would likely never be able to work at least in a fully self supporting manner. (I requested and recieved my medical records from the state through my GP) Now I am at that age where many people who have worked for several decades are retiring or looking forward to retirement in the not too distant future. I have only worked now and then and even then mostly part time over my entire life. I have been helped a lot financially by my family over the years. I am fortunate in that way.

Recieving these benefits has been a blessing and a curse. I have been able to keep some sort of roof over my head and seldom went hungry, I have state run medical coverage in case i get sick etc. But not having a vocation i.e. some sort of skill or trade in which I earn a living, has made it very hard to have much of a social life. When people in the past would ask me, "what do you do for a living?" i had a hard time answering if the question was unexpected. I would Hmmm and Haaa and usually wind up saying in I am the landscaping business because much of the odd jobs I have done in the past and even currently involve outdoor physcial labor or gardening activities. But I know they can sense a sort of reluctance on my part to discuss the topic and I suspect they think I am involved in some sort of "shady business" which I prefer to keep to myself. The truth is that i live in an uninsulated shack with no indoor plumbing, I have an "outhouse" as i live in a very rural area. Fortunately I do have a phone and electrical power. My furniture is very sparse, and i have only one plastic outdoor picnic chair and one old bed. I would be embarassed for anyone, not in a similar situation, to visit me at home as i don't even have a chair for them to sit on. The floor is plywood. And it does get cold when it snows or freezes. I know I could change my living arrangement if I really wanted to. I guess I just don't care that much. Do any of you recieve psychiatric disability? Do you ever just come out and say when someone asks you "what do you do for a living?" that "I recieve psychiatric disabilty payments?"

I often feel so estranged and alienated from the society in which I live. It's as though I have no place to fit in. I often feel un-moored and adrift in my life, "floundering" I guess is the term. As I am looking down the barrel of my sixth decade coming up there is an increasing sense of urgency about making some changes in my life.
But how? After all these years.

Anyway I have noticed that the topic of schizoprenia has been coming up fairly frequently on this forum. Some seem to feel that it is an organic brain disorder holding a poor prognosis for the person who is diagnosed with it. But when people refer to schizophrenia I am not sure everyone here agrees on a definition. I know i am confused on what it means. For instance in my last dis ability evaluation the shrink gave me the diagnosis of "late chronic *LATENT* schizophrenia." If schizophrenia was a organic brain disorder could it ever become LATENT?

Perhaps there is a type of organic schizophrenia which produces certain symptoms, and then there is another form of schizophrenia which produces similar symptoms but the cuase of the symptoms is psychological in nature. That is ones psychological condition acts upon the brain rather than the brain acting upon ones psychology. My social worker/cognitive therapist told me recently that she had seen a movie called "What The Heck Do We Know?" or something like that where there were little platters of water were placed in front of Buddhist Monks who would focus their thoughts (anger, love, joy, sorrow, etc") upon the water and under the magnifying glass the molecular structer of the water would take different shapes in relation to the type of thought projected upon it. Now it would be hard to imagine that the water in these little platters would cause the monks to think certain types of thoughts. So at least for me I believe that my mental/nervous challenges originate from psychological origins and if these psychological disturbances were adequately addressed the brain would take care of itself.

In my reading of C.G.Jung today I came across the section where Jung said that during the dream analysis of a certain doctor, Jung discovered that the man had a "latent psychosis." He felt that delving into the mans "unconcious" would likely result in the emergence of the psychosis into conciousness. So the analysis was stopped under some pretext. Would this make sense if "psychosis" was the result of a brain disorder? So perhaps, like I said there may be two or more causes or origins for simialar symptom formation. I know that in my own case at least the cause of my "nervous breakdown" was the result of overwhelming stress due to certain specific circumstances in my life at the time. I have heard that often times one becomes Psychologically stronger after putting themselfs back together after a nervous breakdown. In my case I feel I was "hit too hard" and am still in a process of repairing my psyche or rather my psyche is still trying to recover even after all these years. It is as though there is some secret in my mind. I have gotten close to discovering it, but it is elusive. I feel that if i could discover what the secret is I would be able to feel "real" and stand on my own two feet in the face of existence, rather than living more or less like a wispy cloud in the sky, as a sort of an ephemeral abstraction.

Wishing you all well

Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The truth is that i live in an uninsulated shack with no indoor plumbing, I have an "outhouse" as i live in a very rural area. Fortunately I do have a phone and electrical power. My furniture is very sparse, and i have only one plastic outdoor picnic chair and one old bed. I would be embarassed for anyone, not in a similar situation, to visit me at home as i don't even have a chair for them to sit on. The floor is plywood
Just for the record, to help you maybe feel SLIGHTLY less ashamed, I want to say that I lived in a SRO (single room occupancy) hotel room/slum apt. in New York for three years. I had to share a bathroom down the hall with the rest of the floor (no words, trust me). I had an "apt" about 10 feet by 12 feet. That was the entire apt. Had a tiny half-refridgerator and a hot plate, no stove. There was a lady downstairs at the front desk who let us in and out (they didnt' trust us with our own front door keys). And when I first got the apt...the lady who was very nice (but horribly depressing, lol) said "welcome home!" I seriously thought of suicide.

MOST of us who have a history of severe mental trouble have equally humiliating shadows in our past. It's not the end of the world and there is no shame in any of it. We are survivors. If I hadn't been able to endure that kind of life at the time, I'd never have the life I have now.

Keep going.

Be easy on yourself.


Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: your VERY intelligent post and questions on Jung.

Remember, a "psychosis" in the sense that Jung is speaking of it, means a severe ego regression.

It's not about biochemical schizophrenia, but Ego Regressive states that can be temporary. Under massive mental stress, we can "go to" earlier levels of character formation, almost as if we are going "backwards' developmentally, in search of something to make us feel cohesive.

When we can't FEEL cohesive, we develop an annhilation anxiety, a terror of the ego/self fragmenting - that's what feels like approaching madness to many of us.

Again, TEMPORARY states, not biochemical psychosis, but equally terrifying all the same.

I had many instances of it, and I swear to this day that I understand those psychotic regressions first hand.

Don't focus on the memory of the experience too much. It's easy to be lured back if one is too introverted about it.


Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Janine

And thank you for your thoughtful reply and your kind words.

Also thanks for sharing some of your personal history with us.

I gather from what you have said that in these "regressed ego states" one may experience symptoms similar to some of the symptoms of schizophrenia but not be schizophrenic. Is that right? Similar perhaps I think to a person who may hallucinate while having a high fever but not be a "psychotic'. As an example.

Hence some people may have symptoms caused by a brain disorder, in accord with the medical illness model, and some may have similar symptoms caused primarily by psychological states and conditions.

So I think you are in agreement with me in drawing a distinction between schizophrenic symptoms which are the result of a brain disorder and "schizophrenic-like symptoms" which are the result of "ego regression".

Often times it seems that people will refer to "psychotic symptoms" as though they were synonymous with schizophrenia. As though all psychotic states were the result of a "schizophrenic condition".

So in my particular case when the doctor diagnosed me as suffering from "Late Chronic Latent Schizophrenia" what he may have actually meant in simple language was that I had an ongoing tendency to experience "ego regression" of "psychotic dimensions" when under stress.
(But surely not all psychologically caused "ego regression" could be classified as psychotic?)

Well that certainly seems to make sense. And that would fit in with my original diagnosis of "Depressive Character Disorder-with a tendency to become psychotic under stress" ( I notice he didn't say " a tendency to become schizophrenic under stress, but simply psychotic)

Or the more current diagnosis of "Intermittent, transient, stress related dissociative states".

Do you think that "dissociative states" like "severe" DP/DR when accompanied by panic attacks could be categorized as transient "psychosis?" Assuming, of course, that like in my case these "states" come and go. I am starting to think that DP/DR may actually be a form of defence mechanism. But i am sure that has been said before. But if DP was a defence mechanism how does that fit in with the concept that it is caused by depression or anxiety?


Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think you have a better comprehension of all this stuff than your doctor did, lol....seriously.

From what you've said (and I am NOT a doctor) it sounds to me like what you suffer from is Major Depressive disorder with psychotic features (what they call "psychotic depression" when under massive stress). You are no way -- not in any POSSIBLE way -- schizophrenic. Your posts are remarkably intelligent and cogent (and if you don't get lots of replies to them, it's only because many people might feel intimidated by the intelligent content, not because they're unclear!)

Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality = and just as you say, it can be induced from a variety of sources, only ONE of which is schizophrenia. There are "drug-induced" psychoses, stress induced, etc...and those states are temporary and the person should return to total cognitive functioning once the state subsides.

There is lots of argument in the field about what schizophrenia even is, but overall it's degenerative. After half a dozen psychotic breaks, the person's cognitive faculites are severely and permanently impaired. There is very little "rebound" to allow them to regain the thinking they had before each break.

I don't actually think dp/dr/dissociative disorders are psychotic, but they are highly ego-regressive. The difference is one of degree.

All humans regress at various times, falling in love can even be a regression. But it's a question of how far we regress. And even more importantly, how fast/how well we can stabilize, i.e., regain current mental functioning...again, the rebound.

Anyone in psychoanalysis regresses. It's even somethign they look for, whether or not a patient has the ability to regress easily and to rebound back to normal fairly quickly. So you're right again, when you say that all ego regression doens't fall under the umbrella of "psychotic"

It's a question of degree. In my opinion, with dp, what happens is this: we regress due to stress, or whatever factors, and upon that regression, we (being overly obsessed and controlled types anyway) start to feel massive anxiety because we feel like we're losing control of our own minds. Then we regress deeper/further and begin to feel a kind of "self-annihilation" terror that is the product of being very far's like we're accessing a kind of early developmental "identity" terror - back when narcissisitic impulses were pulling us towards total symbiosis with a caretaker and subsequently, fears of being TOO far absorbed and being "lost" inside someone else. The mind then tries to draw very distinct boundary lines between "me" and "other" out of a despertate fear of losing itself....and the obsessions and self-monitoring get even worse. The person is obsessed with "what is me" versus "what is not me" and has a kind of free-floating fear that the Ego is about to disinetgrate - and be blown into fragments throughout the universe. They even name it "Fragmentation Anxiety"

If we could reach those regressive states and just turn around and come back, leaving it all BACK there, we'd be fine. But we, again our obsessive and self-controlling natures, make us focus too much on the bizarre experience itself....we keep our "link" active that takes us back to that state again and's as if we're trying to live half in this world and half in regressive-ego transience. No wonder we feel insane, lol...

I used to say "I am a citizen of two countries (meaning sanity and madness) and my passport is stamped a thousand times..."


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2,710 Posts
Serious question, before you stamp on me Janine !

Am I the only one to experience DR/DP without feeling that their emotions/personality had disappeared ? I don't think I experienced any ego-regression at all. I mean, I felt alien to myself, but I still acted and reacted, and felt the same things and in the same way as I did before.

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1,084 Posts

There is nothing i could possibly add here. I know so depressingly little about this subject, that any advice i could give would simply be gratuitous. But i did want to pop on and say that i can't see how you could be anything short of rip-roaringly sane, having complied a post like that. You're remarkably eloquent and bring your story across grandly. It's a travesty that individuals like yourself feel marginalized by society and it's sociological edicts, when you seem to me, so clearly more "together" than the desperately sane rabble.

I also think that film sounds quite interesting about the monks. I shall certainly be searching that out. And I do believe that there are much grander forces at work in this wild world of ours, than those manifested before our various sensory organs. And I also believe that any attempt to decrypt those illusory messages should be avoided at all least in a personal way, for such ventures inevitably give way to wispy wanderings and cloudy dreams.

As has been said before...focus outwards.

Good luck John,


Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi John,

LOL everytime I introduce myself here now I have to give the disclaimer that I myself am not dp/dr but am doing some research has to my boyfriend who has some dissociative stuff that we're still figuring out.

In any case, I have my own set of diagnosis and I am also receiving disability so I thought I'd lend you a word of camaraderie and support in that. I think it's quite noble of you to be interested in returning to work in some capacity. I get SSDI not SSI and I know that the rules are different, but have you yet spoken with a BPAO organization to get the details of returning to work? There's a contact list at ... ctory.html

The reason I ask is that I know under SSDI there seems to be a lot of reasonable-sounding effort put into allowing beneficiaries to have a "trial work period" (perhaps that's what you were referring to) so that they can test out self-supporting and still get back on disability if necessary. The rules sounded complicated to me, but the impression I got was that if you realized that it wasn't going well it would be easier to get back on disability than it originally was, i.e. you could get right back on without waiting through the application process all over again. For example, if you returned to work, then the stress induced a relapse of your symptoms, my understanding was that if you then had to quit and had a doctor to support your reapplication, you would be back on disability right away, even if you had been sucessfully working for awhile. Of course I'm not sure of the details, but that was my vague impression and I know that when I spoke to the BPAO people they were *extremely* helpful.

As to how you talk about having a disability... I also generally avoid addressing the fact directly with people I don't know well. I think what's important to keep in mind is that when people ask that question they often don't really want to know, they are just making conversation. They want to know what kinds of interesting things you do with your time, not really how you pay your bills. So, for example, if you spend a lot of time on a hobby, you could just say that that's what you do. I've done some part-time work writing, so I tell people that's what I do. When people get specific about how much money I make, I say, "Well, I'm not getting a lot of work lately but I get by." Enough said. I admit that this can be stretching it a bit, but I generally let people know the whole picture when I get to know them better. I actually think that it's more respectful often to not spill the whole can of beans at first. I'm a very intense person and I've learned to pull the reigns back a bit so as not to scare people lol.

Also, what worked *really* well for me was volunteer work. Have you ever considered that? (I mean, yeah, well, it doesn't pay; true!) I worked two days a week doing assistant music teaching the first year I was on disability, so that year when people asked me what I did, I told them I was a teacher. And now I'm doing volunteer research assistance for a psychologist. It's pretty fulfilling and I don't have to worry about stress because I'm not getting paid so I can bail if I need a week to myself.

For a long time, and even still now, I've felt a bit ashamed of the disability thing. But my feeling now is that when you truly need help the best thing to do is to get it, to work on recovery, to work on becoming stable. Up until the point that I broke down, I just kept piling the work on (I'm a single mom), which only suceeded in making my breakdown more debilitating. If I am ever to share something with this world, I need to learn to be able to function under stress. So now I'm working with my doctor to establish some kind of 'testing plan' to be able to learn what I am capable of at this time, and how to add things on while developing ongoing strategies. I realize I've said all this without stating my diagnosis, so that would lead me to my next point (see next post)...

Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Regarding diagnosis and psychosis as schitzophrenia vs. dp/dr regression...

Although I'm glad to be able to understand what's wrong with me and share my experiences with other people. I've decided recently that truly the nature of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is to make talking about mental illness easier and to make researching mental illness more statistically sound. It's purpose, to me, does not seem primarily to be making people with mental illness better. You don't actually get better through your diagnosis, it just helps lead your doctor and those around you to understand what kinds of things might be going wrong. Only when neuroscience gets far more advanced can we expect the diagnosis of mental illness to offer much more than that. At this time, so many people have multiple diagnosis spanning both axis. And treatments, even when directed at your diagnosis, seem largely trial and error such that it almost doesn't matter what your diagnosis is!

The more that I focus on the boundaries that surround my diagnosis and the negative stereotypes that resonate within it, the more I find myself caught up in something that is outside myself, rather than being my own ally and attempting to grow and improve as who I am and who I hope I can be.

If you feel that the diagnosis you received limits what you feel you can do, one idea might be to just trust in your doctors' care, allow them to label your problems whatever they need to to get their job done as professionals, but live your own life just as the person you are with the limitations you experience.

It's not really my idea -- my doc gave it to me. But hope this all helps in some way,


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'The more that I focus on the boundaries that surround my diagnosis and the negative stereotypes that resonate within it, the more I find myself caught up in something that is outside myself, rather than being my own ally and attempting to grow and improve as who I am and who I hope I can be.'

Hope, this is what I have been trying to put into words for ages - this conveys exactly how I felt when I first found out about dp etc. Diagnoses have a role in prescribing medicine and from what I understand, an insurance point of view in the US, and to give the doctors some direction in treating you. But at the end of the day, we are all so utterly unique that only we know how we feel and it would be impossible for us all to fit into a category in the DSM. Once I realised the above quote and actually absorbed it into my mind, I realised that I released myself from something huge, something that perpetuated the fear, made me alienated from myself more and kept me in dp. I honestly think that having a label stuck on us is so detrimental to our sense of self.

Discussion Starter · #13 ·
To my fellow posters. Thank you for your replies.

I am not a prolivic writer and putting my thoughts into words is often a grueling and challenging task, so I hope those of you who respond to any of my posts will not feel slighted if I don't respond to each of you personally. Rest assured ( if it matters to you) that I have read every word in your replies to me (often several times over) and appreciate you taking the time to share with me your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes your points will be addressed in my response to a particular poster, as in this case Janine Baker. ( Do I sound too formal?)

Dear Janine,

I think your diagnosis of what ails me is probably closer to the truth than the Latent Schizophrenic diagnosis. In fact the doctor told me at the close of our interview that if I was ever to come across the medical record for this interview I should not take the diagnosis too seriously. In the report, which I eventually did read, he said that it was difficult to know exactly where I should be placed. He said that in the DMS2 the diagnosis of Late Chronic Latent Schizophrenia, ( a category I understand no longer exists) would be the closest he could come at that time. Depression was mentioned, as was anxiety. But I could not be classified as suffering from depression or having an anxiety disorder. I was once diagnosed by county medical authorities as suffering from a "panic Disorder."

My mother was hospitalised a few years ago with depression. She was treated with medication ( anti psychotic/anti depression meds) and has been doing O.K. When she first started feeling better while hospitalised she told the doctor that she was feeling better and he said that re could tell that even without her saying so by the results of her blood tests. During menapause she was also hospitalised and gradually improved after a series of ect treatment and hormonal replacement meds. So I am not doubting that there may be a bio chemical basis for various mental/nervous disorders, and if not an actual basis, in all cases, then at least an apparent correlation in many cases.

I have my own opinions about the origin of my own psychological difficulties which do not include a bio chemical imbalance.

Your "interpretation" from the things i have said makes you feel that I may suffer from a Major Depressive Disorder and have a tendency to experience "psychotic states" when under intense stress. A reasonable supposition.

One of the difficulties I had intially in understanding "depressive disorder" was that I seldom feel depressed or melancholic. But my exwife used to tell me that sometimes when I entered a room the atmosphere would become pervaded by a "feeling" of "darkness". As I understand it "Depressive Character/Personality Disorders" usually involve the depression being built into ones "ego" or sense of "self". Where as "neurotic depression" is generally experienced as something different than self. It is something that one experiences as a feeling, and can sort of stand back and look at the feeling as something different than themself. Something they can have or not have. Where as in a Depressive Personality Disorder it is like the initial depression and ones reaction to it was sort of hard wired into the formation of who one is, very difficult to stand back and look at it.

I am sure this makes little sense to many people here, and i have a hard time finding the right words to convey my understanding. I know that it has to do with disruptions in the structure of the developing "ego" during very early childhood and is somehow connected with the "oral stage" as it is called by Object Relation theorists. Perhaps you might like to elaborate a bit on what "depressive" means from a developmental/Fruedian perspective.

BTW I thought you did a wonderful job in describing the "me, not be" obssession of the depersonalized condition.

You say:

"The mind then tries to draw very distinct boundary lines between "me" and "other" out of a despertate fear of losing itself....and the obsessions and self-monitoring get even worse. The person is obsessed with "what is me" versus "what is not me" and has a kind of free-floating fear that the Ego is about to disinetgrate - and be blown into fragments throughout the universe. They even name it "Fragmentation Anxiety"

This is so "spot on" as the Brits say. The other day I thought about this when my mind became absorbed in distunguishing between the sensation caused by the fabric of my pant leg as it rubbed against the "living tissue" of my skin. Sensations of being cloth flickered in and out of my awareness then i moved on to other thoughts. Thank God I can let go of these kind of thoughts. It hasn't always been so.

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