Michell Aponte-Soto Alfonso Martinez-Taboas María C. Vélez-Pastrana Rafael A. González


Depersonalization is a common psychiatric symptom that remains understudied amongst Latino/Hispanic populations. There is evidence that depersonalization is relatively common among persons with a history of psychological trauma and interpersonal abuse. In this study we compared the frequency of depersonalization experiences in two group of adults: 40 patients with a history of interpersonal abuse (HIA), and a control community group (CCG) of 40 adults without HIA. Results indicated that the patients with HIA showed significantly higher scores on the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale (CDS). Moreover, 25% of the HIA group (vs. none of the CCG) obtained a score (>70) in the CDS that suggests the presence of a Depersonalization Disorder. Moreover, as the frequency of abusive experiences increased, the scores on the CDS concomitantly increased, in many cases to clinical levels. Consistent with other international studies, we found a significant correlation between depersonalization and depressive symptoms as measured with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. Results are consistent with the assertion that interpersonal abuse is intricately related with depersonalization and dissociative symptoms.



Aderibigbe, Y., Bloch, R., & Walker, W. (2001.) Prevalence of depersonalization derealization experiences in a rural population. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 36, 63-69.

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Aponte-Soto, M. R., Vélez-Pastrana, M., Martínez-Taboas, A., & González, R. A. (2014). Psychometric properties of the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale in Puerto Rico. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 15(3), 348-363. doi:10.1080/15299732.2013.856370

Bernstein, E., & Putnam, F. (1986). Development, reliability and validity of a dissociation scale. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 174, 727-735.

Bradley, A., Karatzias, T., & Coyle, E. (2018). Derealization and self-harm strategies are used to regulate disgust, fear, and sadness in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 26, 94-104.

Colombetti, G., & Ratcliffe, M. (2012). Bodily feeling in depersonalization: A phenomenological account. Emotion Review, 4, 145-150.

Dalenberg, C.J., Brand, B.L., Gleaves, D.H., Dorahy, M.J., Loewenstein, R.J., Cardeña, E… Spiegel, D. (2012). Evaluation of the evidence for the trauma and fantasy models of dissociation. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 550-588.

Dalenberg, C., & Palesh, O. (2004). Relationship between child abuse history, trauma, and dissociation in Russian college students. Child Abuse & Neglect, 28, 461-474.

Daniels, J. K., Frewen, P., Theberge, J., & Lanius, R. A. (2016). Structural brain aberrations associated with the dissociative subtype of post-traumatic stress disorder. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 133, 232-240.

Daniels, J. K., Gaebler, M., (2015). Grey matter alterations in patients with depersonalization disorder: A voxel-based morphometry study. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 40, 19-27.

Diez-Quevedo, C., Rangil, T., Sánchez-Planell, L. Kroenke, K., & Spitzer, R. (2001). Validation and utility of the patient health questionnaire in diagnosing mental disorders in 1003 general hospital Spanish inpatients. Psychosomatic Medicine, 63, 679-686.

Dubester, K., & Braun, B. (1995). Psychometric properties of the Dissociative Experiences Scale. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 183(4), 231-235.

Fleming,J., Mullen, P.,Sibthorpe, B., & Bammer, G. (1999). The long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse in Australian women. Child Abuse and Neglect, 23(2), 145-159.

Fagioli, F., Telesforo, L., Dell’Erba, A., Consolazione, M., Migliorini, V., Patane, M.,…Fiori-Nastro, P. (2015). Depersonalization: An exploratory factor analysis of the Italian version of the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 60, 161-167.

Francia-Martínez, M., Roca, I., Alvarado, C., Martínez-Taboas, A., & Sayers, S. (2003). Dissociation, depression and trauma in psychiatric impatiens in Puerto Rico. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 4(4), 47-61.

Giesbrecht, T., Merckelbach, H., van Oorsouw, K., & Simeon, D. (2010). Skin conductance and memory fragmentation after exposure to an emotional film in depersonalization disorder. Psychiatry Research, 177, 342-349.

Hunter, E., Sierra, M., & David, A. (2004). The epidemiology of depersonalisation and derealisation. A systematic review. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 39, 9-18.

Kroenke, K., Spitzer, R., & Williams, J. (2001). The PHQ-9 validity of a brief depression severity measure. Journal General Internal Medicine, 16, 606-613.

Lanius, R. A., Wolf, E. J., Miller, M. W., Frewen, P. A., Vermetten, E., Brand, B., & Spiegel, D. (2014). The dissociative subtype of PTSD. In M. J. Friedman, T. M. Keane, & P. A. Resick (Eds.), Handbook of PTSD: Science and practice (pp. 234- 250). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
Littlewood, R. (2002). Pathologies of the West. New York: Cornell University Press.

Lee, W. E., Kwok, C. H., Hunter, E. C., Richards, M., & David, A. S. (2012). Prevalence and childhood antecedents of depersonalization syndrome in a UK birth cohort. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47, 253-261.

Lewis-Fernández, R., Martínez-Taboas, A., & Sar, V., Patel, S., & Boatin, A.
(2007). The cross-cultural assessment of dissociation. In J. P. Wilson (Ed.),
Cross-cultural assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma (pp. 279-
317). New York: Springer.

Martínez-Taboas, A. (1995). The use of the Dissociative Experiences Scale in Puerto Rico, Dissociation, 8, 13-17.

Martínez-Taboas, A. (2005). From obscurity to daylight: The study of
dissociation in Puerto Rico. In G. F. Rhoades & V. Sar (Eds.), Trauma and
dissociation in a cross-cultural perspective (pp. 271-286). New York: Haworth Press.

Martínez-Taboas, A., & Bernal, G. (2000). Dissociation, psychopathology, and abusive experiences in a nonclinical Latino university student group. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 6, 32-41.

Martínez-Taboas, A., Canino, G., Wang, M., García, P., & Bravo, M. (2006). Prevalence and victimization correlates of pathological dissociation in a community simple youths. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 19(4), 439-448.

Martínez-Taboas, A., Dorahy, M., Sar, V., Middleton, W., Kruger, C. (2013). Growing not dwindling: International research on the worldwide phenomenon of dissociative disorders. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 201, 353.

Michal, M., Adler, J., Wiltink, J., Rener, I., Tschan, R., Wolfling, K…Zwerenz, R. (2016). A case series of 223 patients with depersonalization-derealization syndrome. BMC Psychiatry, 16, 203.

Michal, M., Beutel, M, Jordan, J., (2007). Depersonalization, mindfulness, and childhood trauma. Journal Nervous Mental Disorder, 195, 693-696.

Michal, M., Duven, E., Giralt, S., Dreier, M., Muller, K., Adler, J…Wolfling, K. (2015). Prevalence and correlates of depersonalization in students aged 12-18 years in Germany. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 50, 995-1003.

Michal M, Wiltink J, Subic-Wrana C, Zwerenz R, Tuin I, Lichy M, Brahler E, Beutel ME (2009) Prevalence, correlates, and predictors of depersonalization experiences in the German general population. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 197(7), 499–506.

Michal, M., Wiltink, J., Subic-Wrana, C. (2009). Prevalence, correlates and predictors of depersonalization experiences in the German general population. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 197(7), 499-506.

Molina, J., Martinez, J., Albert, G., Berrios, G., Sierra, M., & Luque, R. (2006). Adaptación y validación al castellano de la Escala de Despersonalización de Cambridge. Actas Españolas de Psiquiatrías, 34(3), 185-192.

Mula, M., Pini, S., & Cassano, G. B. (2007). The neurobiology and clinical significance of depersonalization in mood and anxiety disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 99, 91-99.

Ross, J., Baník, G., Dedova, M., Mikulasková, G., & Armour, C. (2018). Assessing the structure and meaningfulness of the dissociative subtype of PTSD. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 53, 87-97.

Sierra, M. (2009). Depersonalization: A new look at a neglected syndrome. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sierra, M., & Berrios, G. (2000). The Cambridge Depersonalisation Scale: A new instrument for the measurement of depersonalisation. Psychiatry Research, 93, 153-164.

Sierra, M., Gómez, J., Molina, J., Luque, R., Muñoz, J., & David, A.(2006). Depersonalization in psychiatric patients: A transcultural study. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194(5), 356-361.

Simeon, D. (2004). Depersonalisation disorder: A contemporary overview. CNS Drugs, 18(6), 343-354.

Simeon, D., Guralnik, O., Schmeidler, J., Sirof, B., & Knutelska, M. (2001). The role of childhood interpersonal trauma in depersonalization disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 1027-1033.

Soffer-Dudek, N. (2014). Dissociation and dissociative mechanisms in panic disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and depression: A review and heuristic framework. Psychology of Consciousness, 1, 243-270.

StataCorp. (2013). Stata Statistical Software: Release 13. College Station, TX: StataCorp LP.

Stein, D. J., Koenen, K. C., Friedman, M. J., Hill, E., McLaughlin, K. A., Petukhola, M. …Kessler, R. C. (2013). Dissociation in posttraumatic stress disorder: Evidence from the World Mental Health Surveys. Biological Psychiatry, 73, 302-312.

Sugiura, M., Hirosawa, M., Tanaka, S., Nishi, Y., Yamada,Y., & Mizuno, M. (2009). Reliability and validity of a Japanese version of the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale as a screening instrument for depersonalization disorder. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 63, 314-321.

Van der Hart, O., Nijenhuis, E., Steele, K., & Brown, D. (2004). Trauma-related dissociation: Conceptual clarity lost and found. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 38, 906-914.

Wulsin, L., Somoza, E., & Heck, J. (2002). The feasibility of using the Spanish PHQ-9 to screen for depression in primary care in Honduras. Primary Care Companion Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 4(5), 191-195.
Cómo citar
The Relationship between Interpersonal Abuse and Depersonalization Experiences. (2019). Revista Puertorriqueña De Psicologia, 30(1), 48-59. https://www.repsasppr.net/index.php/reps/article/view/544
Artículo de investigación

Cómo citar

The Relationship between Interpersonal Abuse and Depersonalization Experiences. (2019). Revista Puertorriqueña De Psicologia, 30(1), 48-59. https://www.repsasppr.net/index.php/reps/article/view/544