Unrealization: what is it, characteristics and causes of this alteration

Unrealization is one of those psychological phenomena that patients who experience it and go into psychotherapy find it more difficult to describe..

They explain that they feel disconnected from their environment, even from their family. Not just emotionally disenchanted, like someone who has suffered disappointment or disappointment, but almost literally disconnected: as if themselves and the rest are part of different worlds.

Sometimes unrealization is part of a psychological disorder that can last for months or years if left untreated; and sometimes it’s a fleeting experience that doesn’t happen again. In any case, it is important to know this alteration in perception, and that is why in this article I will explain to you what it consists of.

    What is unrealization and what are the characteristics of this alteration?

    One of the most studied topics throughout the development of psychology as a science is: Where does our perception of the here and now come from, what we are aware of at all times?

    This question has fascinated many philosophers and scientists for centuries because it contains an apparent contradiction. After centuries of understanding the human body as something like a machine with different systems of sensors (our senses), our consciousness is not a group of stimuli that reach us in different ways, but we experience it as a whole, a phenomenon which we cannot divide into subsections.

    Today, this unknown is no longer so surprising, because on the basis of research on the functioning of the brain and its relation to the psychological, it has been proven that after the apparent unity of consciousness and the experience of perceiving things, there are several relatively independent processes coordination with each other. This is why, although we take it for granted that the ability to use language is only one type of skill, there are people with brain damage who can articulate words while speaking, but cannot understand speech. too. There are others who can barely speak, but understand what they are being told.

    Unrealization is another such example that after a seemingly homogeneous and unitary psychological phenomenon, there are different elements that under certain circumstances can show where they begin and where they end.

    In this case, we are talking about an experience in which although we technically perceive the same objective elements and can represent them all in our mind, we notice that there is something in this perceptual experience which fails, which is out of place. Indeed, although everything that our senses capture is embodied in our consciousness, the psychological processes of recognition and emotional response to stimuli are altered.

    Consequently, in unrealization we have the subjective feeling that what we perceive is separate from us, or does not belong to our plane of existence; we feel strange in front of what we see, touch and / or feel, as if it is part of a movie set or a simulation. however, not to be a subjective sensation, unrealization ceases to be real. It is a psychological phenomenon that can be (and has been) studied scientifically.

    Its relation to depersonalization

    A phenomenon similar to unrealization is depersonalization, in which what is perceived in rarefied ways is the body itself or even its own thoughts. Both are examples of dissociative symptoms that appear to be associated with a psychological or psychiatric disorder, but, as we will see, are not always the expression of a serious problem.

    In what situations can non-fulfillment occur?

    From what we’ve seen so far, the unrealization seems to be something unpleasant, or at least unsettling. And the truth is, in most cases it is experienced as a negative thing. however, this is not always a reason to be alarmed.

    With that said, let’s take a look at the most common causes of non-fulfillment.

    1. Maintain a high level of anxiety

    Anxiety-induced wear and tear over a relatively long period of time (for example, due to preparation for an important exam) may facilitate the appearance of unrealization as a fleeting change in perception. this this happens due to possible momentary imbalances in the nervous and hormonal activity of our body. In such cases, we don’t even have to talk about suffering from a psychological disorder.

    2. Panic disorder

    In panic disorder, there is a sudden and very extreme increase in the level of anxiety. This causes alterations not only in perception, but also in the cognitive type (what we think and the type of decisions we make), as well as physical symptoms such as sweating, increased blood pressure, feeling of dizziness, etc. .

    3. Trauma

    As with many dissociative phenomena, so does unrealization this is one of the consequences of this kind of painful emotional marks that remain etched in our memory.

    In fact, it is believed to appear (with varying degrees of intensity) in most cases where traumatic experiences occur.

      4. Consumption of psychoactive substances

      Consumption of certain medications can lead to unrealization and even delusional thoughts associated with it. (For example, believing that we are unwittingly participating in a play).

      Can it be treated in therapy?

      Unrealization can be approached in the context of therapy by helping the patient to manage physiological causes.. As we have seen, it is a perceptual disorder closely linked to anxiety, so in psychotherapy we work to “train” the person in the modulation of his attentional focus and in the adoption of strategies. so as not to continue to nourish this state of strong activation of the nervous system.

      Are you interested in psychotherapeutic support?

      If you are planning to go to a psychology consultation and start a psychotherapy process, please contact me. My name is Fernando Azor Lafarga, I am a psychologist specializing in adults and the elderly, as well as director of the Azor & Associats center, from which I perform both face-to-face psychotherapy sessions and online therapy via videoconference.

      I have spent many years working in both clinical and health psychology as well as expert psychology and aviation psychology, and also collaborating with various media as a broadcaster on topics related to psychology and mental health in general. To learn more about my work, see my author file.

      Bibliographical references:

      • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
      • Guralnik, O .; Giesbrecht, T .; Knutelska, M .; Sirroff, B .; Simeó, D. (2007). Cognitive functioning in depersonalization disorder. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Illness. 195 (12): pages 983 to 988.
      • Hunter, EC; Sierra, M .; David, AS (2004). The epidemiology of depersonalization and derealization. A systematic review. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology 39 (1): pages 9-18.
      • Simeon, D .; Knutelska, M .; Nelson, D .; Guralnik, O. (2003). Feeling unreal: an update on depersonalization disorder from 117 cases. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 64 (9): pages 990-997.
      • Serra-Siegert, M. (2018). Depersonalization: clinical and neurobiological aspects. Catalan Society of Psychiatry, 37 (1), 40-55.

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