«…As if I’m not experiencing the things I see» - Anomalies of self-experience and absorption in schizophrenia and depersonalization disorder (Tor Gunnar Værnes, NORMENT University of Oslo)
Abstract: Certain disturbances in self-experience and consciousness are common in schizophrenia spectrum conditions. These disturbances are characterized by abnormalities in the first-person quality of experience, i.e. the sense of ownership to experiences and being an agent of one’s own actions (diminished self-presence), as well as an exaggerated self-consciousness and “overthinking” (hyper-reflexivity) . On a neurobiological level, these disturbances are possibly related to disruptions in perceptual integration, and in the relationships between bodily-motor and cognitive-emotional processes.
Similar-looking disturbances have been found in certain conditions outside the schizophrenia spectrum characterized by severe depersonalization and derealization. These symptoms are characterized by feelings of detachment from one’s “self”, other people and surroundings, and emotional numbness. Depersonalization and derealization seem to be an antithesis to the mental feature absorption. Possibly, at least for some patients, activities like performing music may diminish depersonalization and derealization symptoms, and enhance feelings of self/world-presence and the ability to absorption.
Bio: Tor Gunnar Værnes is a Clinical psychologist and PhD student at Oslo University Hospital, Early Intervention in Psychosis Advisory Unit for South East Norway (TIPS Sør-Øst) and NORMENT, University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital. He is doing a prospective study investigating disturbances of self-experience in patients (15-30 years) with clinical high-risk for psychosis, and associations with symptoms, functioning and background factors, e.g. childhood trauma. Two papers have been published from this study in 2018 and 2019.