A Phenomenological inquiry of women's experience of depersonalization

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This research explores the lived experience of four women who range in age from their mid-thirties to early forties. The aim of this study is to broaden our understanding of the meaning of depersonalization to the women who experience it. The qualitative methodology of phenomenology was utilized. This method was guided by the theoretical framework of new paradigm research which strives to put a human element into research and feminist research which focuses on gender specific issues, including the concept of egalitarian relationships. The literature review explored dissociation disorders with respect to four areas: 1) early theories of depersonalization; 2) multiple personality disorder; 3) treatment of multiple personality; and 4) treatment of dissociation. The findings are presented as reduced stories of the women's experience. The essence of depersonalization was distilled from the stories of lived experience and this is presented in three theme clusters. The thematic clusters are: 1) defence of self, which includes the themes of control, coping and blocking; 2) self dispersion, with the themes of altered state of consciousness, going within and separation; and 3) self insight, which included knowing and awareness. Each cluster and theme is discussed using examples from the women's stories. The fear of insanity, while not a part of the experience, is discussed. This is presented in a feminist framework. Limitations and implications of the research are presented. Clinical implications for social work are addressed in two areas. First, clinical issues are explored for women who experience depersonalization as a coping mechanism. Secondly, clinical issues are discussed for women who live in violent relationships and experience depersonalization as a situational response.
Bibliography: p. 174-188.
Wiggins, H. J. (1991). A Phenomenological inquiry of women's experience of depersonalization (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/11281