In modern days, 'de-personalization' is seen as negative and in some cases, a symptom of an emotional disorder.

In Buddhism, seeing through no-self/identity view is the minimum criteria to attain the first level of enlightenment.

These two concepts, seemingly similar; fundamentally, they could be different.


  1. Are these two the same or not? Shall they be separated or mutually embraced in our daily lives?

  2. As a layman Buddhist, how can we approach this ?

2 Answers 2


Depersonalisation as a psychiatric disorder is something traumatic.

Depersonalisation as enlightenment is calming, blissful & liberating; based in the wisdom of seeing the stress & abandoning of attachment & aversion.

It follows the depersonalised enlightened person can act, behave or interact harmoniously in the world.

The depersonalisation of the enlightened person can be a “secret” only know to them. An external person may never ever suspect or know the enlightened person is depersonalised; let alone enlightened.

  • So you "can act harmoniously" and "depersonalisation is a secret". Is it true, are you sure, that the "world" (i.e. other people) will view them as acting harmoniously? I ask because I thought that the world might expect them to (continue to) do a bunch of things, to have a bunch of things, to fulfil social roles and obligations -- the rat-race -- which they may be no longer be inclined to pursue?
    – ChrisW
    Jun 19, 2019 at 9:29
  • So the Buddha did not act harmoniously, ye of little faith? Jun 19, 2019 at 11:31
  • Since you ask, I suppose his parents and wife were distressed at the time. I guess I'm asking because I have some slight experience with a "psychiatric disorder" type of depersonalisation, and I guess I wasn't sure that the other type can be distinguished by its being harmonious and secret -- would "secret" mean "not even evident"? I might think of other ways to try to distinguish a psychiatric disorder from enlightenment. And perhaps I agree with you, e.g. I've thought that "enlightenment" is all very well but maybe shouldn't to be a "disability" -- I wondered if you could clarify that a bit.
    – ChrisW
    Jun 19, 2019 at 11:54

Householder Krizalid, interested

In this case, under moder "Buddhists" it has the same dis-understanding and of course leads also to disorder which can be broadly observed. A good approach and explaining of generouse and wise patient can be found in Selves & Not-self: The Buddhist Teaching on Anatta, by Bhante Thanissaro and is a very practical approach for everyone toward path striving.

It's a set of talks on a retreat and maybe even good to "swallow" it similar in steps.

In short: where one usually thinks "I, mine" use "not..." and there where one thinks usually "not me, mine" use "I, mine" to get through beloved and aversion and loosen greed as well rejecting of results from akusala deeds, usually approached as not-mine.

Self is one of the governing principles and proper "pride" is required to come and go through the path. Once one could abound all cravings on the senses, having entered path, one can go on in intensiver and mental use of the tool. One not having left house, clings to the senses, as told: disorder & good chance to end up as asannasatta (unaware-being) for long long time, if not headed straight to hellish existances by developed view and conducts on them.

So always first things first, the home tasks!

While the Uposata, cleaning technic, of the cow-browsers still has a chance toward path, the Jains Uposatha has no, and the best is of course that of the Ariya.

(Note that this is not given for trade, exchange, stacks or entertaining but to use for merits, as merits, toward liberation from this wheel)

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