Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Peter Buirski, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sarah Lukens, Psy.D.


Dissociation, Buddhism

Publication Statement

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Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


On the surface, the Buddhist idea of emptiness and experiences of depersonalization and derealization seem to have significant overlap. Meditations on emptiness in the Buddhist tradition seek to lead meditators to observe the ego as illusory and empty of inherent content as one step in the journey to liberate oneself from suffering. Conversely, dissociation is generally an involuntary, automatic response to severe trauma that can become more common or chronic in an individual over time. Topographically, these experiences may look similar; both include a sense of unreality of the self and often of the broader world. However, differences in stimulus value and function make these experiences quite distinct. This paper aims to compare and contrast these experiences, explore the treatment of dissociative disorders, and describe how principles of Buddhist practice may be incorporated into psychotherapy to help individuals work through dissociation and trauma.


28 pgs

Paper Method

Theoretical Analysis and Synthesis