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Dissociation: A Natural State of Mind?

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This paper considers the diagnostic criteria for dissociation disorders from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) as these criteria might be applied to a user of the virtual world Second LifeÒ. In the virtual world of Second LifeÒ a user views him or herself as a computer graphic representation or avatar from a position slightly behind and above. Depersonalization is examined as a natural outcome of this default point-of-view. I will consider the 'unrealness' of the experience of being 'inworld', in this virtual world. Derealization may also be considered as a natural reaction to the artificiality of both the perceived environment and other users seen as avatars. Many longtime users or residents of Second LifeÒ adopt multiple 'inworld' avatars (known as alts). Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) may have certain parallels to the common practice in Second LifeÒ of using different avatars. A brief discussion follows of survey instruments that can be used to detect dissociation, depersonalization, derealization and Dissociative Identity Disorders. The paper concludes with a short description of next steps and a speculative summary.
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Keywords: Alters; Alts; Avatar; Border Theory; Boundary Theory; DSM-IV-TR; Depersonalization; Derealization; Dissociation; Dissociative Identity Disorder; Domains; Out-of-Body; Point-of-View; Real Life; Second Life; Third Places; Virtual; alpha.tribe

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Visual & Performing Arts, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT USA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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