Basic self-awareness is the kind of self-awareness reflected in our standard use of the first-person. Patients suffering from severe forms of depersonalization often feel reluctant to use the first-person and can even, in delusional cases, avoid it altogether, systematically referring to themselves in the third-person. Even though it has been neglected since then, depersonalization has been extensively studied, more than a century ago, and used as probe for understanding the nature and the causal mechanisms of basic self-awareness. In this paper, I argue that depersonalized patients indeed have an impaired basic self-awareness, and that their study allows us both to favor one specific theory of basic self-awareness and to understand what is wrong with its rivals. According to the favored theory, which I call Cartesian, we are basically self-aware in virtue of being acquainted with ourselves through introspection.