Thoughts about DID, Diagnosis, and Parts

Faces You might have noticed that I started telling the story of Anna, a person with multiple parts to her personality. If you want to know how Anna’s parts came to exist, and why, you will find many books, websites, and articles that talk about DID and alternate parts. I am getting a bit tired of all these clever explanations like the one in Wikipedia: “a single person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. The diagnosis requires that at least two personalities routinely take control of the individual’s behaviour with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness”.

The other explanation spread around abundantly is that DID is a result of the child’s inability to cope with too many traumatic experiences in the absence or lack of nurturing and care. Of course, these explanations are not wrong, but what do they mean? I am sure we can find a biologist or neuro-psychiatrist who can explain the shift in personalities or the creation thereof with the transmission or interaction of hormones or chemical compounds in the child’s brain. He too would probably be right.

My question is: How can you capture the miracle of the creation of a new part of a person’s personality, a part that has been created by or within the mind of a 2 year old child, for example? Think about it! A child who is in need of care is able to ‘create’ as it were a copy of it’s Self that will take care of the child’s needs, whether that is need for love, for containing the hurt, for keeping the thread of consciousness, for learning, being angry, being social, performing every day tasks, and so on, even with it’s limited ability for understanding, reasoning, and conceptualising. That is a miracle! Is that not what the prophet Kahlil Gibran means as “Life’s longing for itself”?

In my opinion it’s an amazing act of love and courage that deserves our deepest respect. Whoever calls it mental illness or a mental disorder is truly going mental! It’s absurd. Whoever says “It does not exist” is blind, because if you have an open mind and are able to listen, people will tell you about their parts! To those who say “it’s a creation of overly zealous therapists” I would like to respond “I wish I were that powerful that I could create a self-loving and caring part in a person who has given up hope, or create an assertive part in a person who is dominated and victimised by a cruel partner. I wish I were that powerful. I would create resourceful personality parts so that recovery from childhood abuse and neglect would take only weeks or a few months rather than years.

Regrettably, that’s not how it works. All I can do is to assist Anna strengthening the different aspects of her personality.  As that takes place and all parts of Anna come closer together, they share their history and the associated feelings with each other. They teach each other to tolerate their painful past and difficult feelings, making the need for dissociating or splitting obsolete. Only than can Anna grow and learn from her experiences. Only then will she know what is safe and what is dangerous. Only then can she distinguish between the past and the present. Only then can she become part of a community in which she actively and confidently participates. And she did.

When Anna finished her therapy she stated “The biggest thing for me is that I can go to places socially and work. Everywhere I go, I feel now that I do fit. I am not broken and people don’t see me as broken anymore. I know I can slot into almost any situation and I am confident that I am not going to draw negative attention. That’s a cool feeling”.

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5 Comments

  1. WONDERFUL post, thank you Gudrunfrerichs. 😉

  2. Reblogged this on not keeping the abuse a secret and commented:
    What a beautiful blog-post on dissociative identity disorder (DID)! When I reached this line (fourth paragraph), my eyes actually teared up: “In my opinion it’s an amazing act of love and courage that deserves our deepest respect.” Thank you gudrunfrerichs!

    Me, I am so tired of* the lack of understanding on this one, from the reaction that DID is “just an excuse” (for “bad behavior” or, not remembering, or, whatever), to, it’s “imaginary.” (I.e. we who have DID are “certifiable,” call us “crazy,” it’s “official.”)
    *[I almost said “sick of” up there but, took exception to that word, “sick”…]

    Gudrunfrerichs writes, “….How can you capture the miracle of the creation of a new part of a person’s personality, a part that has been created by or within the mind of a…child, for example? Think about it! A child who is in need of care is able to ‘create’ as it were a copy of it’s Self that will take care of the child’s needs, whether that is need for love, for containing the hurt, for keeping the thread of consciousness, for learning, being angry, being social, performing every day tasks, and so on, even with it’s limited ability for understanding, reasoning, and conceptualising. That is a miracle! Is that not what the prophet Kahlil Gibran means as ‘Life’s longing for itself’?”

    Amen!

  3. I love this. It is a miracle. It is not a disorder, or a disease. The only problem we have is that someone else took out their disorder on us (and likely someone upon them).
    In someways, I can be thankful for it happening. Without it I would not have the wonderful group of minds inside me. At the same time I rage at the injustice of it and how it has left me and how it affects negatively upon the people closest to me.
    Thanks for giving me a nicer way to look at it.
    There is also this to consider:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/mpd_did5.htm#nat

  4. Hi. Great post. I think neuroscience has no good explanation for what is happening. I generally agree with everything you write, as I frequently do. I have thought about all these issues. I do agree that the ability of a child to create parts is a miracle. I also agree that the difficulties we face as we age tends to cause one to think a bit differently about it strictly being a miracle. When huge problems arise and the system doesn’t function well, it’s hard to think of it as a miracle. But I do see your point. I do strive to have communication and harmony inside. But this isn’t the norm for me. I think it’s hard to explain just how difficult this is for someone to go through and heal from. But, as I’ve been writing lately, I think there are equally difficult challenges facing many others who do not deal with dissociation. Thanks for posting. Paul.

  5. uz

    Hi Gudrun,
    Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly, there are so many stupid sites that people go on to look up DID and they are not at helpful to those of us with DID. But what is worse than this is that those being taught by professionals to become professional counsellors and therapist don’t get taught about DID. It infuriates me. I recently told my story to a group of people whom I know reasonably well and at a place where I feel safe and respected. I told my story because I am tired of hiding, of continually living behind a mask and I want to give a voice to DID. I did not want to just state that I have DID, I explained what is was and how it occurs in the meagre way that I understand it. I was aware that in the audience are several people who are training to be counsellors. And a few that are in there third year. I stated that professionals have not been taught in the area of DID and even mental health view it as skeptical etc. Anyway, after explaning it as simply as I could, after I had finished people applauded and as I came off the stage there was a line of people who wanted to hug and comment to me. It was rather overwhelming. But one of the people who is in his third year of counselling training who has just completed a large assignment on trauma pulled me aside and looked very perplexed. He said “what is DID?” Oh man!!! I just about blew but I just looked at him as someone else wanted to talk to me and so I just said its the same as multiple personality disorder. I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him again but I am hoping that when I see him again he will ask me again and I will give him this site to come and have a look at. I believe in the counselling degree that you can choose the workshops and what you want to specialise in ….mmmm!!! I wonder what I will choose!!!! 🙂

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