Estranged from Oneself: Depersonalization and multisensory integration in autistic embodiment (2017–2018)

Principal investigator: Anna Ciaunica

Funding: Fundação Bial

The interdisciplinary project “Estranged from Oneself, Estranged from the Others: Investigating the Effect of Depersonalisation on Self-Other Mirroring” is currently run by Dr Anna Ciaunica, in collaboration with Dr. Harry Farmer – co-PI (ICN/UCL) – funded by the Bial Fundation.

Our project brings together interdisciplinary resources by combining philosophy, cognitive neuroscience and explores the relationship between the experience of Depersonalisation and sensorimotor processing of self and other. Depersonalization (DP) is a fascinating and intriguing phenomena which typically manifests as a disruption of bodily self-awareness. People experincing DP report feelings of being “estranged”, cut-off from oneself and surroundings and often talk about “being in a bubble”, or being separated from the physical and social world by “an invisible barrier such as a pane of glass, a fog, or a veil” (Sierra, 2009) which induces a persistent and highly disturbing sense of alienation.

A better understanding of the impact of this disconnectedness from one’s bodily self on the mirroring of others’ emotions could help to develop better theoretical, empirical and interventional tools in order to address the crucial and urgent challenges raised by DP, which is a source of great distress for those who experience it.