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Bandersnatch Shows You What Depersonalization Disorder Feels Like (acoachcalledlife.com)
102 points by swamy_g 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 99 comments



Interesting and good to learn about this real problem. The show had me really on edge (like all black mirror content) until they kind of broke the 4th (5th wall?) with the netflix thing at the end. Watching this guy talk to his therapist because he was being controlled by netflix was friggen hilarious to me...

I think i have felt this way at time, usually when really high. The whole LSD trip with colin in particular.. I liked that rant, the multiple realities, the time is a flat circle thing.

The movie hit pretty hard, good on black mirror guys for pushing boundaries of film as we know. Even some folks who dont usually get into black mirror were like, well i want to retry it and pick the different cereal to see what happens!


Yo, no spoilers please...... or at least warn about it. Not everybody has seen it.


The show has been out over month now and you willingly came into a thread about the show. Any plot that's spoiled is entirely on you.


This reaction is really frustrating. fwiw, little everyday acts of empathy make the world work.

EDIT: decided against knee-jerk labelling of comment as a--h--- one.


Tbf I had no idea this thread was about black mirror from the title, as I wasn’t aware of the director, and I normally read comments before the article


I thought "Black Mirror" was in the title, my mistake.


A warning doesn't hurt anyone


The cinematography and lighting design really sealed the deal for me.

He has apparently tried LSD, which is probably why it actually the feel quite well.

Amazing to think Charlie Brooker was reviewing TV on his sofa not many years ago - not that screenwipe (etc.) wasn't great.


I thought bandsnatch did a great job of articulating what psychosis was like.

I spent the better part of a decade in that state of mind.

Grateful to have rebuilt my psyche from scratch and be free of that.

Occasionally I catch a flicker of it and need to bring myself back into a state of relaxation.


Would you be willing to share more? What triggered it? And what were your symptoms like?


In college freshman year I tried to teleport to see my gf by driving into the back of a semi on I-79. As far as I can tell it didn’t work.

I spent a lot of time lost in what felt like a deep metaphor / parable.

One time I thought my gf as an alien from another star system; when I looked out at the city of Madison, WI I saw present day Madison but also an overlay of an ancient city — it felt like this was some sort of eternal city that always was.

I walked into a church and saw the priest was a vampire.

I had a conversation with a time traveling Albert Einstein at an airport in Boston.

At times it felt like childhood make beleive, there was still a tether back to reality but I was deep in the other realm.

At times terrifying. Flights into the depths of hell and judeo-Christian mythology.

I was also in and out of suicidal depression.

Somehow I also managed to start a number of projects and get lots of press and even some investment, but I couldn’t keep anything going sustainably.

A few years ago I was at wits end and had a vision that guided me to start feeling my emotions.

That led to Psychedlic therapy, Somatic Therapy and Breathwork.

It also led to a new context for relationship and learning how to navigate love induced psychosis and coming out the otherside more healed.

Eventually I was able to get underneath the symptoms.

I found abuse in my childhood, dishonest and narcissistic care givers, a school that couldn’t hold my high IQ, bullying, etc.

I was also always fascinated with technology, psychology, shamanism, the occult, Psychedlics, personal development from a very very early age... sometimes this feels like my purpose.

Anyhow, I’m symptom free, healthier than ever, in love and engaged, running a fairly full transformational coaching practice (supporting unicorn founders and other creative minds), building an eco village island at Majagual.org and have no need for medications.

Western Psych said I’d be on meds for the rest of my life. Turns out I followed the path of others like Jung - going mad and then creating your own tools and frameworks to find your way back out.


Thanks for sharing and congratulations on breaking free from it!


You are welcome.


>As far as I can tell it didn’t work.

Glad you're a good sport about it now :).

Very cool to read this, thanks for sharing. If you did want to share any more, I'm curious as to what the initial symptoms were, thanks.


Well, after coming across Alan Watts later in life I had to consider that my teleportation was just the first in a fantastic series of events that lead to my ultimate understanding of the plastic nature of reality and then I chose to return to my life and live out the alternate path. :)

It's hard to say what the original symptoms were. It was like I was solving a riddle of sorts. I was getting signs from all over the place that built on one another. There was a growing sense of excitement inside, sort of like I was on the cusp of some massive discovery. The process of being on the highway to see my girlfriend (I was driving from Edinboro, Pa down to Wake Forest) was all very logical to the view I was holding.

It was sort of like a vision from the early 90s video game spy hunter -- where you power up by driving into the back of the semi.

I recalled seeing signs on the semi that said if you can't see the mirrors the driver can't see you. I got caught up in a dream like sequence of looking at his mirrors and being pulled into the back of the truck.

It was actually a state of ecstatic bliss from what I recall -- like a spiritual orgasm. I felt like I needed to have 100% faith and that if I believed it would work. It was a transcendent state of consciousness.

When I hit the back it was like a shock back into reality. There I was on the roadside, lost, afraid, the truck driver very angry with me.

The police showed up and I just told them the truth. They were puzzled and told me to go home (they called my parents).

I tried to drive back home very disoriented. I stopped at a motel to get my bearings and ended up in a weird scene that felt like Mary & Jesus at the manger -- very Judeo Christian.

I had a lot of guilt about having a beautiful girlfriend -- like I was shallow or something. And for some reason thought I was meant to fall in love with this woman at the motel who I was not attracted to.

When I got home my mom took me to see a psychiatrist. He said it could be schizoaffective disorder or perhaps was something triggered by using psychedelics the previous summer (I had some very beautiful and profound life-altering experiences while on Phish tour.)

When I met Rick Doblin (Maps.org) I shared this experience with him. He sniffed out that I hadn't fully integrated the experience and he pointed out that I was falling in love, and that when you fall in love it is sort of like teleporting -- that you have this deep connection to this other person.

He helped me make sense of that experience and it was as if something in my soul relaxed.

There were elements that felt like tripping.

The thing was, there was a lot of baggage from my childhood that I never dealt with. I stuffed a lot of emotions inside. I was a very sensitive and smart kid and never really felt like the family or society I was in understood me or knew how to support my growth.

I ended up just not talking to anyone about what was going on as I didn't want to take medication.

I found Ultimate Frisbee sophomore year and that helped a lot in terms of giving me a new identity, a community and helping me use my energy. I got healthy, quit smoking and within a couple years was actually invited to compete in the World Games.

Things continued though -- I would still have terrifying visions or get lost in thoughts. I'd have fantastic manias.

In general, I think that I was fortunate to have supportive parents and to be creative and charismatic enough to "get by" and not end up on the street. I did make it through college and grad school (psychology and urban planning).

It wasn't until I fell in love with a woman in med school for psychiatry that I would revisit the idea something might be off - I had just acclimated to life and thought that was it.

Though I ultimately rejected the mainstream ideas about what I should do, I made the diagnosis a dharma not a dogma, and tried to work with what I did know.

I really thank MDMA with being the difference that made the difference. It allowed me to feel my feelings fully and to think that for the first time in my life that I was loveable and a good person. That started me on a path of healing and integration.

Anyhow, more than you asked for but hope this was helpful!


This story is so California.


I only spent a couple years there, but they were certainly an inflection point in the larger arc.

But it wasn’t until I got back to NYC that I really began to heal.


Not OP, but thanks for sharing. That was very interesting to read and I’m glad you’ve found your way back out.


Thanks. And in a way, it feels more like finding my way back in.

A prominent psychotherapist in the valley, who is a friend, took a walk with me once and said "Guys like me spend thousands of dollars to go into the jungle and drink plant medicine to experience the states of consciousness you can access by looking into someone's eyes or breathing in a certain way. There isn't anything wrong with you, but you do need to learn how to work with this gift."

That was very much true. I needed to learn to return back to my body and to material reality and to be able to interface with things in a practical way.


Wow, what a perspective. That is a great way to put it


wait... do you own an island now?


I won't technically own it until the title transfers into our Panamanian Corporation later this year. But we have contracts signed, money has been paid and financing is in place. In a strange way the mental health journey helped prepare me for this journey in a way I didn't realize. http://majagual.org

This island journey has been a wild ride as well. We are heading down for the Full Moon Equinox March 18-21 and have room in the boat for a few more!


That's pretty wild. I can't imagine coming even close to doing something that big.


Come check it out in March for the Equinox! March 18-21


Fresh account for obvious reasons.

I wonder whether I "suffer" from this. It's not really suffering. I am very comfortable being a meatbag who hallucinates that they are thinking thoughts; I know that none of it is really real in the way that physical artifacts are real.

Now I have a new and better explanation for why I have visual hallucinations sometimes, particularly halos and fuzz.

For anybody else: Don't worry. You aren't controlled by any one thing. You're a colony of trillions of cells, all working together to produce a mutually-beneficial outcome.

Edit: Do I have free will? I don't think that the question makes sense. I have free will in the same way that my subatomic particles have free will [0]. I have the ability to choose and to choose not to choose, but none of that entails free will [1]. I can even say that I have free will, but that does not mean that I have free will [2]. I think that, even if free will is a thing, maybe I am not a thing which can have free will because maybe I am not a thing at all.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will_theorem

[1] https://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec18.html

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie


I like to think of this view as jailbreaking your biological operating system. We are an aggregate of trillions of cells with one fundamental purpose, to propagate our DNA and ensure the survival of our species. Of course we grow into thinking that almost everything we do is under the influence of our own free will, but it is our DNA and the corresponding influence it has over us that dictates the propensity to choose one thing or another in the first place. Yuval Noah Harrari touches on this in his book, 'Sapiens'.

In a sense, our DNA is a biological form of a general artificial intelligence, but distributed over billions of lives and over the spans of time. The collective progress of humanity being handed down generation by generation. With each generation, unique mutations in the collective DNA of humanity gives birth unique individuals with their own talents, interests, and potential to move our species forward. As a collective whole, we will either survive and evolve, or perish.

Thinking about such things doesn't do much to make it more likely that your unique DNA will propagate... and so maybe by the reproductive success of these traits within humanity we are, as a species, quite comfortable being a meatbag who hallucinates that they are thinking thoughts without delving any deeper.


> hallucinates that they are thinking thoughts

That particular phrasing is a bit turtles-all-the-way-down, though..


But when you start thinking about how there isn't just something from nothing, but something from nothing that can see stuff...then its hard not to view things like turtles-all-the-way-down


I think you missed my point: hallucinating implies thinking. So saying that we're hallucinating that we think is saying that we are not thinking but meta-thinking hallucinated thoughts.


Right! What I meant is that when you look at perception itself, of thoughts or anything else, you run into turtles all the way down, or up. Who or what actually thinks? I do? except I can't decide what I think entirely, even if I do, how do I know that I'm doing it.

The core of it I think is that thoughts are no more "real" than hallucinations. The major difference between thoughts and hallucinations is that thoughts correlate with something real.


>Now I have a new and better explanation for why I have visual hallucinations sometimes, particularly halos and fuzz.

Which is what? These can have a physiological basis i.e. astigmatism i.e. it's actually really real despite your opinion that you're "hallucinating thoughts".


I wonder to what extent holding scientifically accepted beliefs about free-will alters ones experience of this phenomenon. I could understand how it might be terrifying to people with judeo-christian beliefs, but what about someone who is already a secular neuroscientist? I wonder how many people may be experiencing this without being perturbed or feeling the need to seek medical help.

Also, it isn't clear to me whether people with this condition are "missing" something, or if they are in some way perceiving their thought processes with greater fidelity than the rest of us. People have plenty of biological features that aren't necessary for survival (male nipples, tailbones, etc), could the illusion of free will be similar?


> I wonder to what extent holding scientifically accepted beliefs about free-will

There's no such thing. There's no scientific consensus regarding what free will is or whether we have it.


Interesting, I really appreciate you sharing your perspective.

I mean no judgement by this, so I put a certain word in scare-quotes, but would you say that perhaps everyone who doesn't have DP/DR is actually more "delusional"?


One thing to remember about psychological illnesses is that most are defined by hampering a “normal life”, but are normal behaviors taken to an extreme level.

I think there’s a lot of “mentally ill” people who understand some aspect of the world better than the average person, but who are distressed by not sharing a common myth or who lack the shared culture to meaningfully share their experience. Unfortunately, that inability to integrate leads to ongoing damage, isolation, and co-morbid conditions.

This is where I put on my speculation hat, but — I think certain disorders are caused by the inability to resolve the tension caused by living a lie to maintain a social myth, inability to integrate socially taboo knowledge into a persona acceptable to others and being unwilling to lie, or being unable to articulate an insight and subsequently being pushed out of social interactions for being incoherent.


>> This is where I put on my speculation hat, but — I think certain disorders are caused by the inability to resolve the tension caused by living a lie to maintain a social myth, inability to integrate socially taboo knowledge into a persona acceptable to others and being unwilling to lie, or being unable to articulate an insight and subsequently being pushed out of social interactions for being incoherent.

This hits close to home.


One possible example of this phenomenon is called depressive realism, the hypothesis that depressed people more accurately interpret the world.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depressive_realism


I'm not sure.

It's possible that I came to my conclusions purely through philosophical reasoning, and that I am suffering the sort of defect that famously consumed Cantor or Gödel or Pirsig. It's easy to say, "I'm not crazy! You're the one who's crazy!" Or perhaps there is a repressed childhood of abuse somewhere in the memories, but who can tell whether repressed memories are a real thing, or whether memories are trustworthy in general.

At the same time, though, people delude themselves all the time. It's a cultural thing; I think that memetics is the right field of study for figuring out how that works. And once one starts to realize how delusional their cultural beliefs are, one cannot help but start examining themselves. Upon learning about p-zombies, for example, I realized that I must be a p-zombie, because I had no evidence to the alternative and no way to refute the argument.


Yes! IMO, it starts making more sense when you start to see why and how delusional cultural beliefs are actually evolutionarily adaptive for the species, and you can start looking for the neurological structures of belief and consciousness. Never before in history has philosophy of mind been supported by detailed neural imaging technologies and computational neural simulacra.

I’ve been digging Ecclesiastes lately, except the “nothing makes sense” refrain transforms to “actually, with understanding of modern neuroscience and AI, everything makes perfect sense.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+1&...

(And, of course, “God” translates to “the machine that is the universe” and/or “the character in this fairytale that humans told each other well before the Enlightenment.”)


"I can't refute it" does not imply "therefore it must be true". Neither does "I have no evidence against it".


Of course. A proof is that which convinces; I was convinced, but that doesn't mean that you have to be convinced. I was presented with evidence which I can't share with anybody: my experiences.


I think that's an interesting thought. I struggled with DP/DR for a couple years, and the alarming part was that I felt like I was just watching myself perform automatic actions without any need for conscious oversight (this is where my experience differed significantly from Bandersnatch - rather than feeling controlled by someone else, I was frightened by how I was just watching myself act.

It's interesting to connect this to ideas of confabulation in neuroscience/psychology to that of DP/DR. There's evidence that we may actively confabulate stories to explain what we're doing, even if we don't actually know. This is explained a bit here: https://thesituationist.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/the-situati.... Oliver Sack's writings explore the topic a bit too, where those with severe mental injury or impairment would create unrealistic stories to explain their bizarre actions.

So, I wondered if part of the DP/DR involved losing the ability to confabulate and create a narrative regarding why I was acting the way that I was. And, part of my recovery was trying to recover that 'delusion.'

Furthermore, the article 'Anxiety Changes Depersonalization and Derealization Symptoms in Vestibular Patients' has a couple relevant sections:

'It has been hypothesized that “depersonalization is a hard-wired vestigial response for dealing with extreme anxiety, combining a state of increased alertness with a profound inhibition of the emotional response system.” The proposed mechanism is that the medial prefrontal cortex inhibits the emotional processing of the amygdala and related structures in response to increased anxiety resulting in a dampening of sympathetic output and reduced emotional experiencing that leads to hypervigilance, attentional difficulties, and emptiness of the mind.'

This provides evidence that DP/DR involves lessened emotional response. Later, the article states:

'The role of the limbic system and the amygdala in particular is very important, since affective memory connections to past experience could be an important factor in making new perceptions feel familiar and real'

So, I wonder if DP/DR is partially caused by a lessened ability to create narrative/reasoning about control over one's actions (with the emotional hyporeactivity exacerbating the feeling of detachment from the environment). And, if you consider these often-faulty narratives to be a bit delusional, then maybe you could make that conclusion!


I haven't seen this, but as someone who's had DPDR for the better half of a decade, I don't think this article frames it 100% properly (which, to be fair, is harder with this than, say, general anxiety).

Yes, fear does come up during derealization experiences, but the difference is there's no grounded "you" experiencing this fear, more that the fear comes as "the experiencer" reconciling the reality one experiences with a new and disconcerting distance. This reads more like a profile of Pure-O OCD (they're comorbid so I got the two-for-one), where there is somewhat logical rumination about a specific fear.

I've never really had a DPDR experience where I was questioning my own free will. To me the external world at the time is best described as seeming aggressively real to the point it seems false, objects indistinct from others, bereft of any intent or memory. You feel like you've lost some foundational understanding of the world that has been instilled in you forever.


I had a very protracted DPDR experience start around when I was 12, and slowly dissipated over the course of a decade. I woke up one morning, and it was like I was slapped out of my body. It's like I was piloting a Me(ch) suit.

I wasn't seeing through my eyes. They were transmitting, with perceivable lag and some kind of acknowledged overlay, their sensory data. It's like being embedded in _extremely advanced_ and nearly seamless VR, but also hyper aware of the "nearly" part. It's like the Uncanny Valley effect, but directing it toward your own sensory system.

It doesn't feel quite real anymore, and you don't know why. So that's probably how I'd convey it. "You know the Uncanny Valley? Imagine everything you experienced felt that way."

It's uniquely awful.


Very well described.


Asking for a friend, did you seek a professional diagnosis?


I was seeing a CBT therapist for severe OCD at the time I was diagnosed with this. Unfortunately there isn’t really a specific therapy targeting DPDR like OCD, but anxiety reduction does help overall.


Random aside: Anyone else watch the Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix? I feel like that could be an interesting choose your own adventure similar to how Bandersnatch was done. Let people make decisions as if they were in charge of the festival and see if they could come out the end of it having made it a success or not.


Yes, I was so intrigued by their story. I feel like the right person could pull it off. I've thought about this documentary non-stop for the past couple of days.


> I feel like the right person could pull it off.

I uh, I guess I'll bite. How? If anything, I think it's funny to imagine it as an interviewing exercise to suss out people with delusions of grandeur who have lived a life free of real-world consequences.

They basically had a failed FEMA campsite without water or electricity, or effectively, shelter. It absolutely blows my mind and shakes my understanding of humanity to think that people got sucked into that or that there would be folks lining up to get suckered again, or that people somehow think it was ever achievable based on the timeline and current human time-travel technology.

While I understand Billy's "charm" and even how to use it at times, it's amazing how enough of it will convince people to believe absolutely any delusional fantasy. Partying with a bunch of Insta influencers glued to their phone sounds like hell, anyway. Who doesn't want to hang out with the grown adult proudly bragging about urinating on all of the bedding?


I think maybe a timeline where they listened to the guy suggesting they use a cruise ship to transport people might be 1 correct choice.

After that they said they chose between 10 venues, maybe there is a timeline where they could have done something on the main land (Nassau) and crowd sourced more appropriate villas with AirBnB. Delaying the event by 1 week to avoid the yachting event might have brought airbnb prices down to a reasonable threshold.

Maybe secretly there is no actual successful decision tree and its just a dark reminder that some things are never meant to be. Maybe at the start there is an option 'refund everyones money' haha and thats the only positive outcome.


Bandersnatch made me feel like I participated in an invasive data science project that I didn’t agree to.


I don't know if this point gets brought up much, but I wholeheartedly agree. The data generated from situational A/B testing is scary. Just imagine what you could learn by looking at one viewer's choices across a range of situations that you control... While I doubt the mass-analytics is there yet, it made me shudder at the privacy implications for the future.


Couldn't one technically do this right now with online games?


This reminds me of Westworld.


you agreed by watching


Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

The problem isn’t the data science. The problem is that the show was developed primarily for data science but was described to viewers as fun, interactive fiction.

Let’s be clear here: Netflix developed this show for the primary purpose of gathering data on me. Clearly many of the decisions only existed to test the effectiveness of product placement. Some other decisions were intended to cluster subscribers into segments. My issue is that I was deceived into thinking the interactivity was purely to enhance the story.

gjs278 15 days ago [flagged]

get your schizophrenia checked out


We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the site guidelines.

If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This is actually a pretty common side effect of chronic mdma use — I went through this a bit in my mid 20s. And I had a friend go on a few month bender after burning man who was telling me he could read minds and was living inside a simulation. Not in a theoretical, isn’t it fun to think about way, but in a “I can control reality with my thoughts” kind of way. Definitely not a pleasant feeling.

Seems like somehow the serotonin system is responsible for maintaining your belief in reality and free will.


I think DP/DR is the opposite... "i.e. I can't control reality at all, or even myself or my choices"


Happens much more with other psychedelics. In my experience, MDMA produces the least bit of a "psychedelic hangover", other than feeling depressed.


Try doing it every week for a year.


The bodies of knowledge and practical tools (meditation/breathing/etc) from the great spiritual traditions over many thousands of years come to exactly this conclusion: your consciousness DOES create your reality. "Control" of reality is a different beast, you have to ascend to very high levels to achieve that, but it's 100% possible and happens all around us.


I think you have it a bit backwards. You perceive reality through your consciousness. So if your consciousness were to interject a filter of its own choosing, your subjective reality would be affected. However, this has no bearing on objective reality. You can't will bad things to not happen, but you can choose to perceive them as less bad.

It's like writing a SQL query "SELECT name, MIN(51, objectiveScore) as subjectiveScore FROM TestResults" and then say "hey look, no one failed!". The data in the table is still going to have any sub-50 scores it originally did, you've just turned a blind eye to them.


Maybe, or maybe we exist within a realm that is more like a video game, where each frame is generated based on the prior state of the game plus the inputs (Thought) from every character in the game? This is what people mean when they say "thoughts are things" or talk about "conscious creation".

Ultimately the topic of Awareness or Consciousness transcends rationality, so the only way to know what the hell I'm talking about is to try and walk the Path yourself. :)


source? reference?


Any of these will get you started. These are the Amazon searches for "manifestation" and "law of attraction".

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3...

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3...

If you really want to go off the deep-end you can research Yogic Siddhis.


Have DPDR, I appreciate that DPDR is becoming more talked about. Makes me feel less alone and less abnormal. Thankfully, I've slowly (~years) been returning to normal.


This is the state that most of us committing our lives to spiritual practice seek to achieve. All of these overlap with symptoms of Enlightenment, although the enlightened being has conscious control over all internal processes, so they are not only able to feel joy and love, they've reached the source of those emotions.

* Detachment from self, feeling as though one is watching a movie about oneself.

* A sense that one is not in control of one’s thoughts and actions.

* Reality may seem dream-like or unreal.

* Distorted sense of time.

* Perceptual alterations like visual snow, halo around lights.

* Emotional numbness, unable to feel joy or love.


What you are describing is getting high, not spiritual practice. Nothing wrong with getting high per se, but it can be extremely dangerous if you confuse those states with "Enlightenment".

The experience of transcending one's ego identity may feel similar to dissociation or depersonalization at times. But the end result of awakening is not a dissociative state. It's being fully present to all of your emotions, not numbness at all, but simply not attached to them in the sense that they don't automatically dictate your response. You still feel all the things that apply to your normal sense of self, but you're able to observe them and act from a different place.

There is a real risk to people getting lost on the spiritual path and ending up in places like nihilism or dissociation. Be careful.


The definitions of equanimity and disassociation sound really similar, but they are very different things. In Equanimity, you feel a connection to everything, with the sense of self and ego diminished or completely removed. In Disassociation, you feel disconnected from everything, floating free and completely alone. To be honest, I've never experienced equanimity, so I'm going off the descriptions I've read and had explained to me, in my own attempts at mindfulness meditation. Disassociation, I've experienced multiple times. It tends to happen when one is in an extremely stressful emotional state, and it's a big relief when it happens in that context, but it's a self-defense strategy, and not a healthy state. I suspect you could achieve it accidentally when trying for equanimity, but it isn't equanimity.


There are lots of different ideas about enlightenment, but the one I'm most familiar with, Soto Zen, is the exact opposite of what is described there. If you're getting halos, feeling out of control and experiencing emotional numbness you're doing it (specifically Soto Zen) very, very wrong.


Yeah, this wasn't a great post. What I intended to convey was that I found it interesting that some of these, at least categorically (time flexibility, detachment from self, and dream-like reality) are central to Awakening. Of course, in Enlightenment, there is conscious control over all of these elements, so that being experiences none of the negative aspects described here.


For a very specific understanding of what "spiritual practice" means.


i feel a bit confused about this "disorder."

i spend hundreds of hours a year meditating to get rid of my sense of self. it is the best thing about the LSD experience too.

the idea that one is not in control of one's own actions is called "seeing the illusion of free will which is obvious to anyone who has ever seriously thought about the issue."

the idea that you are watching a movie about something that does not actually have a self is called "ego death" or "enlightenment."


The problem with DP/DR is that the loss of control/feeling of unrealness is not pleasant. It's the opposite. Your ego is not completely lost, it's still very much present. But it feels really threatened. You feel like you are on the edge most of the time. You feel like you might go insane or die any minute (when the intensity gets high).

After years of getting my grounding, I feel like I can manage these feelings. I don't have them that often. But it takes practice, and you have to surrender when the feelings are overwhelming.

For functioning in this world, you do need a sense of self. But it also helps when that self realizes that it is part of a whole. Without a self, I don't think you can operate in this reality, so there's no point trying to get rid of it.


>You feel like you are on the edge most of the time. You feel like you might go insane or die any minute (when the intensity gets high).

Mine's been far milder (thankfully) and the best way I could explain that feeling is like being a boat with it's anchor dropped. You're very much the anchor but, when you hit the DP/PR, you're also - very much - the boat, as well - being tossed about by the waves.

It's like events happen but you're kind of pedestrian to them, seing them after-the-fact, almost[0].

That's the best way that I can describe it but I'm not even doing it justice, overall; just from my own anecdotal experience(s) and it's a piss-poor analogy at that. Sorry.

[0] - https://media.giphy.com/media/UrO3di2UKs4qA/giphy.gif


A few points:

1. I share your sense of skepticism about these types of things. I generally thought people with anxiety just exaggerated until I started getting panic attacks and anxiety myself (due to DPDR).

2. The biggest difference between meditating and DPDR is the sense of anxiety. When you meditate to lose yourself you feel at peace (I assume). With DPDR, you feel panic.

3. When you look at loved ones during episodes, its discomforting feeling creeped out by them. It's not pleasant.

Now why is one pleasant and the other isn't despite having a similar mechanism? That's a great question. Perhaps the brain reacts differently when you do things on purpose v.s. when things happen to you against your will and out of your control. I imagine there are more differences as well. The brain is a complex organ.


I experienced ego death on a very high dose of pot. I suffered from DP/DR for about three years after. It's not the same. In DP/DR, you feel completely disconnected from your body and "spirit". It's really not a pleasant feeling.


now i notice all the other comments here are about the same thing :)


I recently read "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" and in it, the author raises many interesting ideas about consciousness, the mind, self, free will, etc.

Would someone with DP/DR say they possess free will? Would you say you possess free will?

Is the test for "having free will" simply feeling like you have it? Or saying that you have it? Does an AI that says "I am sentient. I possess free will." actually have those qualities? Do we?


Obvious resolution: There's no such thing, the universe is deterministic but not predictable. This doesn't matter very much in practice, punishment is about game theory so your 'free will' to perform or not perform an action is kind of irrelevant.


That's my takeaway too. In practice, it doesn't really matter since we only have the one universe to observe, so there's no material difference between one model and the other.


But be aware: The free-will model can be uninstalled from your brain, and this may have interesting side-effects. (Including possibly temporary DPDR, though I wouldn’t necessarily call DPDR a bad thing, just... atypical. And it helps to have solid coping strategies.)


My understanding of the thinking about free will is that it actually is an illusion that's a byproduct of the way the brain processes, consolidates, and stores information (similar to the way consciousness is thought to be an emergent property of the same processes). I've read about studies showing that a decision is made at the neuronal level before a person is consciously aware of it, so it's not as though we consciously deliberate before making each decision.

That is not to say that everything is pre-determined, or that we're hopeless to change our behavior. Our self-talk or conscious narrative help to create a feedback loop that can influence the way future decisions are arrived upon by reinforcing certain neural pathways over others, making some decisions more likely than others.

And FWIW, I have dealt with DP/DR for a lot of years, and most of my symptoms fall to the side of feeling like everything is a dream state, or that neither I nor the outside world are actually real. The prolonged detached feeling can be super unnerving before you realize what's going on. I can see there being an aspect of a crisis of free will (or w/e) for others dealing with this, but I don't think it's necessarily true for all of us.


> That is not to say that everything is pre-determined, or that we're hopeless to change our behavior. Our self-talk or conscious narrative help to create a feedback loop that can influence the way future decisions are arrived upon by reinforcing certain neural pathways over others, making some decisions more likely than others.

Yet the self-talk or conscious narrative themselves are a result of a combination of deterministic and stochastic factors. We are not hopeless to change because we are systems that react and adapt to our environment all the time. We are a ship afloat a partly stochastic sea.


Hey, this is out of context, but I noticed you replied on a thread almost a month back saying you were interested in vajrayana visualization practices. Sorry I didn't notice your reply! I cannot reply to that thread anymore, but here's a link for you (sorry everyone else, just ignore this reply). https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/vajrayana/tant...


This is totally unexpected, but very appreciated. Thank you!


It's one thing to contemplate whether you have free will or not. It could be a "fun" exercise. BUT to feel like you have no free will is an entirely a different beast. DP/DR sometimes makes you feel like you have no free will and that triggers a lot of panic.

It also makes you feel like your "self" could disappear at any moment. This notion of no self is prevalent in eastern mysticism. Also, folks who have imbibed certain psychedelics can also lose their sense of self. So what we feel is not entirely made up, this disorder may be pointing to something important to look at.

Here's another article if you are interested in learning more: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/12/enlighten...


Consider: It is useful to other human organisms to install a model of free will into you and make you believe that it is a thing that you have.


Isn't doing things because they are useful a sign of free will? A rock doesn't fall from a cliff because it's useful for it to do so.


No, just an indication of available degrees of freedom and evolutionary pressure. It is useful for DNA replication machinery to have error-correction capabilities, does this mean DNA replication machinery has free will?


Interesting, the symptoms remind me a lot of many of the themes of Phillip K Dick's works, particularly the questioning of reality and consciousness.



If one is having a panic attack regarding free will, it might be helpful to remember that if you're able to speak the words "I have no control", then you've proven yourself wrong: you just exerted control over your vocal chords. Helpful reminder that you're not a prisoner in your own body!


Volition is not the same thing as free will.


Unless whomever is controlling you made you say that so you'd think you were free...


True, but then they'd need to be reading your mind to know that you were thinking about it. The plot thickens...

Also, if this controller needs to do external things to influence what you think about, rather than just controlling your thoughts directly, then there's already a hint of free will in the choice of your thoughts.




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