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Bradlow, P.A. (1973). Depersonalization, Ego Splitting, Non-Human Fantasy and Shame. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:487-492.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:487-492

Depersonalization, Ego Splitting, Non-Human Fantasy and Shame

Paul A. Bradlow


Ego splitting plays a basic role in the psychodynamics of depersonalization. The multiple factors predisposing to the occurrence of the split are reviewed. Four cases of depersonalization have been presented in support of the hypothesis that a particular disowning fantasy exists, reflective of the split, which may be specific for depersonalization. The disowned self seems to be expressed in the fantasy of not being human. The total fantasy can be expressed as: This is not really being experienced (felt) by me, but by someone else. That other person is not human. I am. Therefore I have nothing to be anxious about.

This rejected identification with a non-human self is related to the feeling of not being human. It is further proposed that the ego-split in depersonalization often reflects sudden increased tension between the ego and ego-ideal. There is an unexpected dissimilarity between 'myself as perceived by me' and 'myself as perceived by my ideal self (the me that I aspire to be)'. The acute rather than chronic development of the disowning fantasy of identification with the non-human is suggested as an important factor in the development of depersonalization rather than depression. The psychodynamics of feelings of not being human appear to roughly parallel those of shame. The two are closely related in many respects.

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