Depersonalization and self-consciousness, self-esteem, and shame
Sorokin, Judith E.
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Depersonalization is a troubling psychological phenomenon involving a change in the sense of one's self or environment characterized by a feeling of unreality. Little is known about the psychological conditions under which it is likely to occur. In this study depersonalization was looked at in relation to aspects of self-concept. Specifically, it was hypothesized that proneness to depersonalization would be correlated with heightened self-consciousness, lowered self-esteem, and proneness to shame.;Ninety undergraduate volunteers were given self-report inventories. Multiple measures of variables were used, including two measures of depersonalization, measures of self-consciousness regarding private and observable aspects of the self and private and observable aspects of the body, measures of global self-esteem and body image, and a trait measure of shame. Confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) using the computer program LISREL were performed to estimate the relationships between depersonalization and self-consciousness, self-esteem, and shame. The CFA enables the researcher to use multiple measures of constructs and to consider multiple correlations simultaneously, thereby reducing measurement error and rendering a more pure and conservative estimate of the relationships.;Lowered self-esteem and proneness to shame were shown to be moderately correlated with depersonalization, and heightened self-consciousness was shown to be mildly correlated with depersonalization. These relationships were discussed in the context of research and theory.;Because analyses showed that the factor structure imposed by the CFA model did not provide the best fit for the data, a post hoc exploratory factor analysis was conducted in order to estimate the underlying factor structure of the data. Results showed that aspects of private self-consciousness, and not public self-consciousness, loaded substantially with depersonalization. These findings are consistent with the literature, which suggests that the self-scrutiny in depersonalization involves absorption in internal experiences, as opposed to attentiveness to the self as an observable object. These findings also offer support for the argument presented by many authors that self-consciousness is not a byproduct of depersonalization, but rather an integral part of the construct.;A final post hoc CFA showed that a depersonalization construct, comprised of measures of depersonalization and measures of self-consciousness, was moderately correlated with negative evaluations of the self, including lowered self-esteem, diminished body image, and proneness to shame.