This study has caused a world wide stirring – it shakes peoples trust in the medical profession that eagerly prescribes antidepressant drugs, and it questions the ethical conduct of pharmaceutical companies.
When DID clients have successfully progressed through the third stage MAKING HUMAN CONTACT in which they proceeded to re-connect with society in general they had a sense of Homecoming. Homecoming described clients’ sense of coming home to themselves, achieving quality of life, finding happiness, coming to terms with their past, being everything they ever dreamed of, finding the real me, blossoming, and having a sense of more good things to come.
I integrated because my self-states realised, that “I” was home for us all. I left therapy because my spirit found a better, more real, and more fulfilling home. And I still have problems because I do not feel at home in the world, in my relationship with people, or in the way I present myself to the world (Mona, 3/1)
Rather than focusing on the processing of trauma, the therapeutic relationship became a place of practicing and exploring how to relate. Not only did the relationship with the therapist become the blueprint for other relationships, therapy sessions were also a place for feedback and guidance. Clients now needed to test themselves and other people by taking risks and cautiously revealing themselves.
The crucial condition under which MAKING HUMAN CONTACT became possible was Repairing Broken Trust. While having dealt with trust issues in the early stages already, they again formed a pivotal part in this phase. Trusting oneself as well as trusting others had to be revisited and reworked. Herman states that by having established a safe haven through therapy “the person is gradually able to expand the level of contact with the wider community” (1992, p. 162). Clients started to engage with other people and to form relationships.
Another strong indicator for Repairing Broken Trust was when clients were able to let down their protective walls. Being able to be open to new experiences, to trust self and others, was a crucial condition for Making human contact.
"(What happened to your wall?) In some areas it’s still there. Not so thickly, it gets narrowed and I guess it gets more transparent. And in some place it’s not there at all. – Reconnecting, yeah, like learning to have a so-called normal whatever normal is, normal as in having an intimate relationship with somebody, having good friendship with somebody, having a relationship with your family, work relationship" (Carol).
When the need for MAKING HUMAN CONTACT, the need to have intimate and close relationships, and the need to be loved grew stronger, DID clients realised that they had no idea how to do ‘IT’. Don’t Know How To Relate demonstrated the need to have social skills in order to make connections and contact with other people. Clients discovered at this point that they lacked the skills needed for communication and for forming relationships. How do you relate, how do you have small talk, how do you initiate contact or a conversation? What do you say, after you say ‘Hello”? And then what happens?
The need for MAKING HUMAN CONTACT surfaced strongly at the later stages of recovery. Now clients' focus moved away from trauma processing and their everyday life came into focus. They became painfully aware that they had been living their lives Behind Block Walls isolated and estranged from other people with no or only limited contact. Clients were now challenged with the necessity to let down the wall to establish and maintain relationships with others, re-join the human race, and re-connect with the community. It was in this stage that being Behind Block Walls became a major therapeutic focus.
Shifting sands was another indicator for living Behind Block Walls. One of the most prominent symptoms of DID was the shifting between personality states, or 'switching’ as DID clients call it. In the early treatment phase clients are often unaware of switching personalities. They were just as puzzled by their shifting as other people who came in contact with them. The fragmented self-system became a structural component of the wall that surrounded DID clients.
Behind Block Walls was caused by DID clients feeling very different to other people. Laliberte-Rudman (1999) remarked that in her focus groups connecting was intimately linked to being able to share and take part in activities like everybody else, which signified for her participants ‘being normal’. Not being different from others, being perceived as normal as well as feeling normal about oneself was intimately linked to being able to connect with others and constituted quality of life. The following statements express the need of participants in this study to ‘not be different’.
The last stage of CONNECTING, the main concern of DID clients in the therapy process, required from clients to MAKING HUMAN CONTACT. For that they needed to overcome their fear of other people, to develop trust, and to learn how to relate. Once clients had processed enough of their traumatic experiences and had gained a sufficient sense of themselves as a person, once the internal chaos and conflict had decreased, their need for MAKING HUMAN CONTACT moved into the foreground. They became aware that they had been living most of their lives Behind Block Walls.