Depersonalization in accident victims and psychiatric patients

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1977 Jun;164(6):401-7. doi: 10.1097/00005053-197706000-00005.


A transient depersonalization syndrome was identified in nearly one third of persons exposed to life-threatening danger (accident victims) and close to 40% of a group of hospitalized psychiatric patients. Although the syndrome was similar in these populations, mental clouding developed more commonly among patients and alertness was more prominent among accident victims. Anxiety was significantly associated with the development of depersonalization among psychiatric patients and was almost certainly a factor in its appearance among accident victims. The findings suggest that this syndrome is a specific response to extreme danger or its associated anxiety.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Depersonalization / etiology*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Mental Processes
  • Syndrome