Derealization: Understanding the Dissociative Experience

Derealizasyon Nedir

Derealization is classified within dissociative disorders, a category associated with psychopathology characterized by suicidal attempts, self-harming behaviors, difficulties in concentration, mood fluctuations, anger outbursts, and feelings of identity uncertainty resulting from childhood trauma.

Defined as a dissociative disorder, derealization describes the individual’s detachment from external situations. Individuals may feel as if they are living in a dream, experiencing disconnected perceptions of time, space, colors, and surrounding objects. Derealization is also indicative of a state of emotional detachment.

Derealization and Depersonalization

Derealization and depersonalization are often observed concurrently in dissociative disorders. Depersonalization involves experiences such as observing oneself from an external perspective, detachment from one’s emotions and thoughts, and loss of control over physical movements. In derealization, individuals experience a sense of detachment from external realities.

Causes of Derealization

The primary factor contributing to derealization is childhood trauma, neglect, and abuse. Trauma experienced during childhood induces alterations in the limbic structure of the brain, leading to discrepancies that may contribute to the development of derealization.

Various triggers can precipitate derealization:

Medical conditions

Psychological disorders

Substance use


These factors can induce a sense of detachment from reality, creating an experience akin to living in a dream.

Symptoms of Derealization

Individuals experiencing derealization are aware that the surrounding elements are real, but they do not feel connected to the reality around them. Commonly, the events and objects in the environment evoke a feeling of belonging to another world, creating a sensation reminiscent of living in a dream. Individuals feel a sense of separation from their surroundings, and perceptions of time, colors, and sounds may seem different from reality.

Treatment of Derealization

The primary method of treating derealization involves psychotherapy, with cognitive-behavioral approaches or techniques like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) commonly employed. While pharmacological methods may be used to alleviate accompanying diagnoses, there is no specific medication for derealization treatment.

Psychotherapy aims to identify the factors contributing to derealization, helping individuals recognize their emotions and bodily sensations. Through therapy sessions, negative thoughts and beliefs contributing to derealization are addressed, with a focus on replacing them with positive thoughts and beliefs. Therapeutic interventions aim to reduce the frequency of derealization symptoms and enhance the functional aspects of individuals’ daily lives.



Mawad, Heidi. “What is Derealization?”. March 10, 2021. Accessed on January 31, 2023, from Derealization: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.

Mutlu, E. (2022). “Investigating the Effectiveness of EMDR Therapy in Young Adults Experiencing Depersonalization and Derealization: A Case Study.” International Academic Social Resources Journal, 7(37), 595- 601.


Our Current Psychology Publications

Do you need help? Let's get to the size.