Depersonalization in Psychiatric Patients: A Transcultural Study

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There is evidence suggesting that the prevalence of depersonalization in psychiatric patients can vary across cultures.

To explore the possible influence of culture on the prevalence of depersonalization, we compared psychiatric inpatient samples from the United Kingdom (N = 31), Spain (N = 68), and Colombia (N = 41) on standardized and validated self-rating measures of dissociation and depersonalization: the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale and the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES). Colombian patients were found to have lower global scores on the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale and the DES and all its subscales, with the exception of DES-Absorption. No differences were found for measures of depression or anxiety. These findings seem to support the view that depersonalization is susceptible to cultural influences. Attention is drawn to the potential relevance of the sociological dimension “individualism-collectivism” on the experience of the self, and it is proposed that cultures characterized by high individualism may confer vulnerability to depersonalization experiences.

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