Bodily awareness in depersonalization-derealization disorder

Millman, Lauren Slater Merritt. 2022. Bodily awareness in depersonalization-derealization disorder. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Bodily awareness in depersonalization-derealization disorder)
PSY_thesis_MillmanL_2022.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (26MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Depersonalization-derealization disorder (DDD), a dissociative disorder encompassing disconnections from the self and from reality, remains a widely unknown and underdiagnosed condition. The broad aim of this thesis is to generate a better understanding of DDD from a body-based perspective and to present DDD as a suitable candidate for Dance Movement Therapy (DMT). In the current literature, there is a clear lack of work exploring the potential benefits of body-based therapies for DDD. I first explore DMT and the often-neglected neurocognitive concepts that may be involved including embodied cognition and interoception, with Chapter 2 presenting an in-depth review of controlled trials of DMT for clinical mental health conditions.

Chapters 3 and 4 are focused on better characterizing and understanding DDD. Chapter 3 presents a latent profile analysis of psychometric measures of depersonalizationderealization, anxiety, and dissociation to determine whether symptom heterogeneity in DDD is attributable to the presence of latent subgroups. Chapter 4 presents a study examining the role of verbal suggestibility in DDD and its relationship to depersonalization-derealization symptoms, mindfulness, anxiety, and visual imagery. Both of these chapters have implications for the aetiology, mechanisms, treatment, and classification of DDD.

Chapters 5 and 6 explore DMT for DDD, with Chapter 5 presenting an online intervention study and Chapter 6 presenting an in-person intervention study. Two controlled dance tasks to differentially engage with the body as a means of symptom reduction in DDD were developed: one promoting explicit body awareness and the other implicitly boosting the salience of bodily signals. Dance is presented as a bespoke and efficacious tool to reduce symptoms in DDD whilst improving a sense of body awareness. This research highlights the need for a better understanding of bodily processes in DDD and provides compelling evidence for the continued development of body-based interventions targeting both interoception and mindfulness in this population and in dissociation, more broadly.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


depersonalization-derealization disorder, dance movement therapy, interoception, suggestibility, dissociation, mindfulness

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 December 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Jan 2023 16:14

Last Modified:

09 Jan 2023 18:00


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)