Derailment within the landscape of psychopathology

Kaylin Ratner, Anthony L. Burrow

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


When perceived changes in course occur, individuals can be left feeling disconnected from who they were in the past. This sensation of being ‘off-course’ in life is an individual difference we call ‘derailment.’ In this article, we review derailment's unique contribution to the psychological literature, the role of perceived self and identity change in mental health, and the nuanced association between derailment and depression. Although depression has been emphasized in research to date, we argue for derailment's role in other types of mental illness, motivating several exciting directions for future work. For the pervasiveness of identity in our everyday lives, the study of derailment confers opportunities for better understanding the experience of psychopathology and approaching its treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Derailment
  • Identity
  • Mental illness
  • Self-direction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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