Impairments of sensory perceptions

Many of those affected also describe sensory impairments as part of depersonalization disorder. In most cases it is seeing, hearing and/or feeling/sensing that are limited. As was already mentioned, this is not only the feeling that a particular sense is impaired; rather, those affected experience the impairment in the form of a limitation of the sense in question.

Most of those suffering from depersonalization experience impairments in seeing. Their view is complicated by fog or a veil. Some also see spots, dots or noise in front of their eyes. Mostly the view is limited to a particular field of view (tunnel vision), the borders are only perceived as blurred, unclear or are not perceived not at all.

In addition, many of those affected describe impairments when it comes to spacial seeing. Their environment is perceived as being two-dimensional. For that reason, things can appear closer or further away, or they can seem smaller or larger than they actually are. Furthermore, some of those affected report changes in the color intensity of objects.

For many of those affected, the impairments on the visual level lead to the fact that they are only able to see amidst great effort, meaning they can only perceive their environment amidst significant strain. Their ability to spatially orientate is made more difficult, distances are difficult to judge. Often, things and people are only recognized a bit late. Many of those affected are unsteady while walking, are scared of bumping into something or of falling. The ability to participate in traffic can be severely impaired.

Particularly when it comes to bad light conditions, at dusk or at night or with eyes closed, the symptoms of depersonalization often get worse as in those situations, the visual ability is even less.

Some of those affected describe the visual impairments as being so severe that they have the feeling they are blind even though they can see.

Often, those affected perceive their eyes as static and hardly movable. The constant overstraining of the eyes leads to headaches or pain in the eyes. This particularly affects people who work in visual jobs and hardly move their bodies (academic work, working at the computer…). Many of those affected by depersonalization disorder try relaxing their eyes by looking towards the inside, into “nothingness”. On the short term, this may seem to relax the eyes but on the long term, this increases the feeling of estrangement of the environment. In addition, many of those affected are busy trying to observe themselves rather than trying to perceive their surroundings. This also increases the feeling of detachment.

Often, those affected by depersonalization describe it as helpful when they succeed in distancing themselves from “looking towards the inside” and actually perceiving the outside world. For that it makes sense to keep the eyes moving and not to keep looking statically at one spot for a longer period of time.

A good method to be able to engage with the outside world is to look for different objects or points in the room that have different distances (far away, very far away, a few meters away, very close…) and to fix the eyes on them one by one. Here, it is important to look for objects with clear contours or striking patterns and to concentrate on sharply fixating on them with the eyes. There should be no continuous line between objects. Rather, the eyes should be moved in a staccato rhythm from object to object, while every object is fixated on for a while. This exercise helps against the disturbing two-dimensional perception of the surroundings that is experienced by some people.

If the eyes are overstrained from the ongoing effort of trying to perceive everything well, the feeling of eye rigidity might take place. In such scenarios it is helpful to relax the eyes for a little bit. Also, putting on dark sunglasses are beneficial to relax the eyes, particularly when light conditions are exhausting (blinding light, snow, etc.).
Those affected who wear glasses because of visual impairments often describe it as beneficial to take off their glasses for a short period of time in order to relax their eyes a little.

Of course, stress plays a decisive role when it comes to visual impairments. If stress can be avoided or if it is possible to remove themselves from happenings for a short period of time, the ability to see may improve a little.


For many of those affected by depersonalization disorder, sounds may appear to be dull. For this reason, they often have difficulties in correctly localizing the origin of sounds. Often, they need to listen twice until they know where a particular sound is coming from. In conversations, those affected may often ask about what was being said before being able to properly understand someone. This may lead to shame and to those affected avoiding conversations altogether.

Some of those affected also experience their own voice or other sounds in such an altered manner and in some cases as being so different, that they cannot recognize them anymore. For some of those affected, outside sounds do not reach them so that they have the feeling of being deaf, even though they are able to hear.

As is the case with seeing, it may also be beneficial for those with hearing impairments to concentrate on different sounds in the outside world. Here, 3-4 sounds should be selected in different distances from one another, which are listened to one after another with concentration and awareness.

If the ears are overstrained, it can help those affected to cover the ears with the warm palms of their hands for a short period of time.


Those affected by depersonalization often have a hard time being aware of their physical boundaries due to their altered perception of their body. It can be difficult for them to distinguish between what belongs to their own body and what doesn’t. Pleasant feelings that may be caused by touches or also discomforts stemming from their own body often cannot be felt properly. Some of those affected also report that their ability to feel pain is significantly lowered and that they can hardly feel pain.

Also, the ability to touch may be limited so that those affected have a hard time sensing textures of objects. Others report that since the beginning of their disorder, they have not been able to taste anything properly anymore. All foods and drinks seem bland.

The best way to lessen feeling or sensing impairments is to have rather hard massages of the entire body done either by themselves or by another person. The whole body should be knocked on or squeezed.

Often, those affected can mitigate touching impairments by intentionally touching objects made of different materials and textures.

When it comes to tasting, it is helpful for those affected by depersonalization disorder to experience different tastes, for example by eating and testing herbs or different fruits, sweet and sour, etc.