NUI Galway Study To Inform Future Mental Health Clinical Practice

Dec 04 2015 Posted: 11:19 GMT

Study seeks participants aged 18-25 years old to examine common experiences of feeling disconnected or detached from one’s sense of self or their surroundings

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway is conducting a research study on people who experience feelings of being disconnected or detached from themselves and their surroundings. Adults aged 18-25 years old are invited to participate in the study, with findings hoping to better inform professionals working within the mental health service.

Recent research in mental health has identified that it can be common for people to experience unwanted thoughts and feelings of being more or less whole, or that the world is less real to them than at other times. This has been found to be a common phenomenon among the general population, but for some people it may cause them some distress.

These experiences can be influenced by stress and fatigue, with most people not admitting to experiencing feelings of disconnect and detachment, for fear of being perceived as different or strange. International studies have found that people are more willing to report these experiences in surveys rather than disclose it to a doctor.

The aim of this research is to normalise these common feelings and thoughts which people may have, and to determine whether they perceive them in a negative way. The study is particularly interested in people who may have experienced emotionally upsetting events or feelings in childhood, and evaluate if they are more likely to be affected by disconnected experiences in a more distressing way. The participants’ mood, anxiety and stress levels will also be measured, in order to establish if all these related issues impact on them in the here and now.

The study is being carried out by Aoife Ó Laoide, a Psychologist in Clinical Training at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway, under the academic supervision of Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the University’s Doctorate Programme in Psychological Science. Ms Ó Laoide is interested in examining this phenomenon and understanding how psychological factors, such as childhood experiences, current stress, anxiety, and mood might interact with these common experiences of feeling disconnected from yourself or your surroundings.

Miss Ó Laoide said: “We are seeking people for the study who have ever felt ‘unreal’ or in a ‘dream-like’ state. People who experience a feeling of detachment or disconnection from themselves and their surroundings. We want to investigate this relatively common phenomenon that no one wants to admit to, in order to explore how it may impact on an individual and their overall psychological well-being, with the hope of informing future clinical practice.”

For those aged 18-25 years old who wish to participate in the study please visit the online survey link at: 

For further information contact Aoife Ó Laoide at


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