Grampa Simpson and Depersonalization
There's an absolutely brilliant scene in the Simpsons episode "22 Short Films About Springfield" where Grandpa Simpson is demanding medical attention.
He's only happy when gets seen to by the inimitable Dr. Nick who diagnoses him with "Bonus Eruptus" -- "a terrible condition where the skeleton tries to leap out of the mouth and escape the body".
Delighted, Grampa Simpson says "Now you're talking!"
Dr. Nick immediately comes up with a solution:
"Our one chance is trans-dental electromicide!"
... and the scene continues until Abe is being shocked repeatedly by electrical wires from a lamp.
It's such a hilarious scene, always makes me laugh.
More recently though, I've thought about how it's a brilliant representation of people react to frustrating and ambiguous medical symptoms - a great example being depersonalization.
Grandpa Simpson's symptoms are vague: "I'm itchy! I've got ants in my pants! I'm discombobulated!" He knows there's something wrong with him but he doesn't know what it is. He knows he needs medical attention, but he doesn't know what kind. He's only satisfied when he's diagnosed with something dramatic-sounding with an equally dramatic treatment.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It does to me. That's almost exactly what I went through when I first experienced chronic depersonalization. I know there was something wrong with me, but I didn't know what. I trawled the internet for information that would relate to my symptoms. When I came across the more mundane explanations, I dismissed them out of hand.
Could it be possible that depersonalization and derealization are really just symptoms of anxiety?
"It couldn't be that simple", I told myself.
What I was experiencing wasn't just anxiety. I knew well what anxiety was. This was different.
And of course, I was drawn to sites and forums that confirmed this thinking. Dramatic explanations, the more sensational, the better. Why? Because that suited the drama of what I was feeling.
What I later realized was that I didn't want a simple explanation. I wanted huge articles telling me that I needed to analyse my childhood, dig through my memories, searching for something that might -- possibly -- lead me to an answer and put a stop to the horrible feelings of depersonalization.
I wanted a big, complicated diagnosis that justified what I thought was a big, complicated condition.
I was Grampa Simpson!
And I see this all the time with DP sufferers. People have a hard time believing that it's not a complicated condition.
That's why one of my 10 Golden Rules for DP Recovery is to stay away from DP forums -- They're filled with wild theories about depersonalization. They may be elaborate, interesting even -- but ultimately they're not helpful.
Part of your recovery is knowing not to be drawn into over-complicated explanations. It's very tempting to read through pages and pages of text online outlining the importance of your personality type, your childhood circumstances, your parents, etc. I did the same thing, believe me. And just like Grandpa Simpson, there was a part of me that said: "Now we're talking!"
I'm not suggesting that personality / childhood / family situation etc are irrelevant to your situation, but they are irrelevant to your recovery.
So give the Grampa Simpson approach to DP recovery a miss -- because getting better is a LOT simpler that you think.