Date of Award
Doctoral Research Paper
Graduate School of Professional Psychology
Michael Karson, Ph.D.
Peter Buirski, Ph.D.
Sarah Lukens, Psy.D.
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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.
Loving, Jill, "Unreality and Loss of Self: Dissociative Experiences in Buddhist Practitioners" (2022). Graduate School of Professional Psychology: Doctoral Papers and Masters Projects. 451.
Theoretical Analysis and Synthesis