Soulwork Home Page

Check your spelling

Soulwork Online Help

Soulwork Humor: Funny stories


Soulwork Systemic Coaching: Summary

Soulwork Coach Training

Soulwork FAQ Questions & Answers


Emotional Issues
Anger & Rage

Eating Problems
Emotional Maturity
Grief & Loss
Inner Child

Pain Control
Stress Relief

Toxic Beliefs
Trauma & Stress
Weight Loss


Relationship Problems

Dissolve Conflicts
Emotional Blackmail

Enjoy Partnership
Evaluate Partners
Long-Distance Love
Love & Hate

Past Partners
Sexual Issues
Soul Mates


Family Challenges

Brothers & Sisters
Divorce & Children
Emotional Incest
Family Meetings
Family Secrets

Fathers & Daughters
Fathers & Sons
Learning Disorders
Mothers & Daughters
Mothers & Sons

Parental Alienation


Life Lessons
Bad Habits
Being Alone
Children's Challenges
Observing Feelings

Patterns in Love
Personal Growth
Quantum Leap
Self Esteem
Self Improvement
Self Intimacy
Stress & Relaxing
Therapist and Clients


Chaos Coaching

Inner Conflict
Expert Modeling
Learning Disorders

Sexual Abuse
Soul of Soulwork
Systemic Management
Therapist Abuse
Training Abuse



Interview with Martyn
Fee, Cost, Price

eXTReMe Tracker

Spirituality & Identity Loss
Spiritual Detachment & Depersonalization © Martyn Carruthers

Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Therapy

I will attempt to condense years of experience gained
while helping people change emotional and relationship
issues that delayed or prevented their spiritual development.

Spiritual Development, Religion & Identity

Spirituality is a warm and fluffy word for me, while religion seems cooler
and more demanding. Spiritual development seems to imply personal
evolution, while religious behavior seems to imply personal submission.

Rather than arguing about definitions, lets look at the goals. For me, a primary goal of religion is obedience - an ongoing sense of duty that supports community stability. For me, a primary goal of spirituality is happiness - an ongoing sense of connectedness that builds relationships and vibrant community.

Relationship behavior seems to be a useful measure of obedience and happiness. Whatever the truth within the myths and legends surrounding the founders of religions and spiritual paths, both obedience and happiness affect how people express love (or caring or respect) in their relationships. I perceive a sense of duty and a pursuit of happiness more as relationship qualities rather than individual qualities.

Both religious dogma or spiritual development can lead to a sense of connection and integrity. Both can support a sense of identity, relationship behavior and success.

We can choose which relationship qualities we develop. By "we", I refer to the essence of people. For me this is not ego (I perceive ego as a split-off teenage part) nor personality (I perceive personality as a mish-mash of masks, habits and fixations).

For me, identity refers to a sense of Self - a heart-full sum of human qualities - a sense of integrity and connectedness. Identity is something that we can hide, forget or lose.

Identity loss can refer to a state of emotional numbness or a lost sense of self.

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality appears to be an integral part of all human cultures. Spiritual development may be regarded as connection to something external to the self, or as an internal experience, or both. At its most basic, spirituality might be called good luck. A lone survivor of a disaster may be called special, holy or chosen.

Spirituality includes approaching external spiritual agencies through their symbolic manifestations - by showing submission, fear, respect, gratitude or reverence to symbols. Spirituality may also be assessed in terms of ability to negotiate with esoteric agencies, evidenced by good luck for a community.

In contrast, religious behavior is more often a reverence for sacred objects, learning chants and songs, repeating body movements and reciting dogma. If these cases, religious development might be measured in terms of ability to remember and repeat these lessons. Sacred images, chants, mythic language, incense and ritual can be used to support beliefs and maintain community bonds.

During your coaching I was shocked to discover that everyday conversations
can feel like spiritual events. I communicate with people very differently now.

Spiritual Experiences

Your descriptions of spiritual experiences will likely be questioned and criticized. A claim of a relationship with an esoteric agency may indicate sainthood one culture - and psychotic delusions in another.

Descriptions of spiritual experiences vary between cultures. Many skills that you take for granted were once evidence of magic or spirituality. These skills include remembering, writing, spelling, mental arithmetic and planning. (Have you ever been enchanted by a spell?).

Having observed spiritual experiences in many cultures, there seems to be a predictable hierarchy. Here is a simple table I created to assess spiritual development, based on Dr Gregory Bateson's hierarchy of abstraction (from Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1976):


Evidence of Spirituality

Places Some locations are considered especially sacred or spiritual - often locations with unusual geographic features - or a place where one or more persons have died or been buried - or a place where an unusual event was recorded.
Things Some items and objects are considered especially spiritual - often objects of unusual scarcity. Spiritual objects also include possessions or even parts of people who were recognized as "spiritually advanced".
Actions Some body movements or repetitive behaviors are considered sacred. This includes movements, chants, repeated words or thoughts that symbolize or request a "preferred" relationship with an esoteric or spiritual agency.
Beliefs Some beliefs are considered especially spiritual. Spiritual beliefs often lack factual basis, and often concern dead people or special locations.
Values Some values are considered especially spiritual. Spiritual values often lack practicality and can rarely be measured or assessed in ordinary reality.
Identity Some identities are considered spiritual. Some people recognized as spiritual communicated with abstract metaphors and often died in interesting ways. Their lives typically include periods of suffering during which they found ways to limit their suffering, often by identification and dissociation.
Transpersonal Transcendence of identity is a goal of many spiritual paths, although expect bitter disputes about whether or not a person has actually transcended.

What is Identity Loss?

Identity loss refers to emotional dissociation and depersonalization. However, if the symptoms of identity loss do not cause significant emotional distress or interfere with normal functioning, those symptoms are unlikely to be recognized or resolved.

Some people describe feeling separate from their minds or bodies.
Dissociated self-perception may be called detachment or depersonalization.

A survey by the U.S. National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) indicated that about half of American adults have experienced brief episodes of depersonalization, usually following trauma. I would suggest that spiritual abuse and mentor damage are also primary causes of such dissociation.

Symptoms of identity loss may be worsened by immature beliefs and habits. People who did not learn how to be mature may be unable to enjoy lasting happy relationships (e.g. family, teams, partnership or parenthood) although they may seek a perfect relationship - while lacking mature partnership skills.

Many people start to show signs of identity loss during the challenges of adolescence and leaving home. Warning signals include social isolation, loneliness and obsessions. Empty people try to fill their emptiness - but junk food, pornography or drugs are poor substitutes for happiness.

We have helped many people change their resistance to happiness and spiritual progress. We find that more women than men ask for help with symptoms of identity loss, although many men won't ask for help when lost in a strange city - let alone when lost in life.

Consequences of Dissociation

We meet people with symptoms of identity loss who do not want to improve. They may believe themselves to be special and/or enlightened and often claim to have destroyed their ego or got rid of their emotions and that they now live in samadhi, satori or enlightenment. And, depending on their definitions - perhaps they do.

We observe people's relationship skills ... or lack thereof. Dissociated people often lack relationship skills, they may prefer shallow affairs to commitment - and short-term fun to lasting happiness. Often reserved or withdrawn, such people may prefer seclusion to the challenges of healthy teamwork or partnership.

Happiness, fulfillment and spirituality are relationship qualities.
Contact us to clarify your goals, manage negative emotions
and solve relationship problems.

Online Coaching, Relationship Counseling & Systemic Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2010-2018
All rights reserved

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
please mention or

For online help, email us at:

Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


Soulwork systemic coaching in England, Wales & Scotland

Soulwork systemic coaching in Croatia & Serbia

Soulwork systemic coaching in Poland



Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email