Depersonalization- and derealization-like phenomena of epileptic origin.

Heydrich, Lukas; Marillier, Guillaume; Evans, Nathan; Seeck, Margitta; Blanke, Olaf (2019). Depersonalization- and derealization-like phenomena of epileptic origin. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, 6(9), pp. 1739-1747. Wiley 10.1002/acn3.50870

Heydrich, 2019, Depersonalization_and derealization_like phenomena.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (295kB) | Preview

OBJECTIVE Depersonalization refers to the sensation of being detached from one's body, often associated with feelings of loss of control over one's own body, actions, or thoughts. Derealization refers to the altered perception of one's surroundings that is experienced as unreal. Although usually reported by psychiatric patients suffering from depression or anxiety, single case reports and small case series have described depersonalization- and derealization-like symptoms in the context of epilepsy. METHODS We investigated the brain mechanisms of ictal depersonalization- and derealization like symptoms by analyzing clinical and neuropsychological data as well as the epileptogenic zone based on a multimodal approach in a group of patients reporting depersonalization- (n = 9) and derealization-like symptoms (n = 7), from a single presurgical epilepsy center with focal epilepsy. We compared them with a group of control patients with experiential phenomena due to temporal lobe epilepsy (n = 28). RESULTS We show that all patients with ictal depersonalization-like symptoms report altered self-identification with their body and mostly suffer from frontal lobe epilepsy with the epileptogenic zone in the dorsal premotor cortex, while patients with derealization-like symptoms suffer from temporal lobe epilepsy. This finding is supported by post-ictal neuropsychological deficits, showing that depersonalization-like symptoms were significantly more often associated with frontal lobe dysfunction as compared to the control patients and patients with derealization-like symptoms. CONCLUSION We argue that depersonalization of epileptic origin constitutes a distinct disorder due to frontal lobe epilepsy. We discuss these findings with respect to earlier accounts of depersonalization and the recent concept of bodily self-consciousness.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology

UniBE Contributor:

Heydrich, Lukas Emmanuel Josef Marc


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Chantal Kottler

Date Deposited:

21 Nov 2019 12:51

Last Modified:

21 Nov 2019 12:51

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback