This is a lovely 14 minute clip of Eleanor Longden describing her journey from a perceived madness to recovery. Besides any doubts we may have of her diagnosis of schizophrenia, her process of recovery sounds very much like recovery from DID. Take care, take faith, and take hope.
Have I created my dissociative disorder? This really interesting question has been posted in the comments section and I thought it deserves a more in-depth response because I have heard this question asked many times over the years.
The question whether people (either clients or therapists) can create a dissociative disorder has kept the therapeutic community divided for many years now. The good news is that nobody really knows. Whatever people believe is just that: THEIR BELIEF. We don’t know enough about how our marvelous mind works to be able to give a definitive answer.
It might be wise to be cautious and not believe everything therapists (and other people) tell you – including myself here – because we all make up our own reality as we speak or think for that matter. Our perception is so fickle, it’s more about ourselves and our own history and experiences than what we perceive is going on in the world. When you find that you are able to quieten your mind and use the stillness to listen inside to your own wisdom, you will find your truth. That’s the only one that you can live by! Not my one and no-one else’s.
But I am diverting – back to the question: In my personal view it is naive to think someone only has to read a book and then can talk themselves into having a disorder so severe that it causes mental and emotional distress. “Inventing it yourself” implies a purposeful act – like creating a make-belief story that then is lived out. If we watch a movie we might be affected by it, but we still know it’s a movie, a made-up story, it’s not real. That step doesn’t seem possible for people diagnosed with a dissociative disorder (or any other disorder for that matter).
‘Inventing unknowingly’ is a contradiction in itself – it doesn’t make sense and isn’t really a thought-through statement.
I have always perceived dissociative disorders on a continuum of awareness. To use a stereotypical example: the academic in their ivory tower who is not aware of his/her other needs and feelings, and is complete ignorant about leisure, health, family, etc. This kind of ‘life’ is – even though socially acceptable and at times even admired – in my view very dissociative. It is just not recognised as a pathology because the person is not signalling that s/he is suffering.
The person that ended up with a diagnosed dissociative condition seems to me to be a bit further on the way to ‘mental health and inner peace’ because their awareness is awakened to the aspects of their lives that don’t work for them. One way of going through the mental disorders of the DSM is to view all (or most) of the listed disorders as people’s individual way of coping with the problems life is presenting them with. Does the depressed person chose to be depressed? NO. Does the anxious person chose to wake up anxious every day? NO. Neither does the dissociative person chose to see him/herself as fragmented and disconnected. Due to complex circumstances (age, resilience, support, ability to conceptualise, etc.) these people have learnt to respond to life through these specific ways. There is not really a choice as in “I am consciously choosing x”.
If we look at mental disorders from a medical/pharmaceutical perspective, the answer is usually: it’s some form of mental brain malfunction for which – thanks to pharma – we have a pill that can be prescribed and things may or may not improve. Because dissociative disorders itself don’t respond to pharmaceutical interventions, many people lean to thinking they can’t be real and therefore must be a creation of the patient or the therapist! There you have it!
If we look at mental disorders from the perspective of how human experience is created, than all our experiences are due to each individuals way of making sense of life and ability to respond to life. In that sense we do create all our experience – but is it inventing? Certainly not, it is just what every human being is doing, it’s how nature has designed us to exist.
If someone tells you that you are creating your e.g. dissociative disorder, depression, or anxiety there is the implication that you’ve been naughty, it’s not real, you shouldn’t have done it, please un-do it quickly. They don’t understand it’s your personal response to life’s circumstances, it’s the best way you could cope with life given your resources, awareness, and thinking at the time. Once your awareness increases you will improve the quality of your responses to life.
Today I would like to respond to comments made earlier this month on the ‘home’ page here. My first impulse was being saddened by the confusion and despair readers felt by some of my latest post. However, it didn’t take long for me to get excited. Every time someone presents a challenge it gives me – and I suppose everyone – the opportunity to widen our understanding and deepen our insight. So I am very grateful for people to take the time and formulate their opinion and point out that what they are reading is not gelling for them.
It’s a tricky topic, the topic of “it’s just thought”, isn’t it? It’s hard to get one’s head around the fact that the world we experience is rather more a hologram created by our own thinking then a representation of what’s really OUT THERE. Especially when we end up with a badly bruised body or mind by our encounters with “out there”, be it objects or people’s’ actions. That’s however how it is – it’s a biological reality that we can’t grasp what’s out there without processing and interpreting it through our mental filters (history, beliefs, values etc.), through what’s ‘IN HERE’. It doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong or something bad. Experiencing your personal hologram as real is doing exactly what mother nature designed you to do: thinking that your thoughts are real. Everybody operates like that – nobody gets spared! Continue reading
A reader of this blog commented yesterday on my post “Achieving Co-consciousness” and described in deeply touching words the heartache of living with so much fear, not knowing, not understanding, and internal dissonance. Reading the comment I got a really good feel for the ‘outside’ people who try to manage the everyday life as best as possible, and the ‘inside’ people who seem to try to manage the inner world of memories and feelings that go with these memories.
My first thought was “just like it happens in real life when people go to war against each other”. Whether it’s the Germans against the Western World during the WWII, the Muslims against the Jews, the North Irish against the British, East against West, North against South, there is no difference. Each party is convinced they have a justification to go to war, fight for their right(s), even give their lives for the cause.
None of the parties is listening to what the other has to say. Instead, all they try to do is brow-beating the ‘opposition’ into submission, using all kinds of semantics or other intimidation methods. “I am right” … “… no, I am righter” (I know this is not correct english, go away spell-check!). All parties have their opinion already set in concrete. They are not open to new ideas. They don’t listen with care in their heart, they listen looking for evidence to agree or disagree with what is said. Hop over to my post “Just Listen” to get a clearer picture of what I mean.
What does that mean for ‘inside’ people and ‘outside’ people? Well, for starters, how well do you listen to each other? Do you listen with love in your heart or do you already have a judgement on your mind? And then, what happens when you (outside person) lose time and become an inside person? Do you then become part of the ‘inside group’ and become hostile, difficult, or not understanding?
Given that we can NEVER EVER see reality as it really is, that all we ever can know is ONLY our interpretation of that reality, its highly likely that neither inside nor outside people are getting the right end of the stick. Certainly when people are highly strung, emotionally distressed, or hurting lots, thinking and perceiving what is going on is unlikely to be very accurate. Only when you are in a calm state of mind and at peace is your mind in a state to get a clear picture.
I agree that it is much easier to understand the conflicting inner world when we talk about ‘parts’ – and each person has a psychological mind structure that can be understood by using the ‘parts-metaphor’. On a physical, observable playing field we are talking about the same person, one body, one heart, one set of lungs, and one mind. It’s important that we don’t lose sight of that! In physical reality, this internal warfare takes place in the very small space between your ears. Please, be nice to that poor, overworked, stretched out brain.
Today I came across a lovely blog post from a fellow blogger. The title was “Letter to My Younger Self”. I became curious to see what Rachel (the blogger) wrote. (The post is no longer life anymore.) Those of you who know me will understand that: I hold the strong belief that a big part of the recovery journey is to find a place of compassion, love, understanding, respect, and appreciation for the younger SELF who managed to cope with the abuse.
When I make this statement I hear frequently “Yes, maybe, BUT see how much I am struggling, see how much I am in pain, see how difficult it is to reverse the dissociation”. The way the younger Self coped is creating a whole lot of problems today.
My counter-argument is usually: The younger You coped with something horrendously difficult and confusing the best way s/he could. S/he did so with the limited resources and understanding a child has; often with barely any support. You can now, as an adult, make the necessary changes.
However, the first step is to give recognition to the child in the form of love, care, respect, understanding, appreciation. It won’t be long until one by one your problems will start melting away.
The summit last June has created quite a bit of ripples and has been noticed not just in New Zealand, but also overseas. The following post is by a survivor who would have loved to be able to attend. She offered her 'Hole in the Soul' story as a way of supporting our aim to empower and inspire survivors.
"Once upon a time there was a little boy. He had a terrible headache. He knew why he had a headache. There were people in his life who were very wounded. These people spread their pain wherever they went.
It would not stop.
One way to understand the creation of parts is to believe that every part of a multiple has been created to help. Even though we don’t quite know the process by which parts are created, we can assume that by creating parts the human survival instinct has somehow found a way to guarantee that the abused child has some help to get through stressful or painful times.
There seems to be a myth about integration where people expect never to have flashbacks, depression, and triggers to interfere with their lives. Although they interlectually understand and even proclaim that "recovery is a lifelong process", they get discouraged when they find themselves in spaces that are very reminicent of the 'bad times'. So here are some thoughts about this confusing, difficult phase.
Most people would agree that working through the traumatic memories of abuse and neglect is one of the main pathways that lead to co-consciousness. However, trauma work does not stop once a memory has been shared with the therapist and its meaning has been interpreted in a new way. Trauma work also means to restore self-capacities that were arrested or did not develop. Take for example a memory that led to the part holding it coming to the conclusion “You can’t trust people” and acts accordingly.
In general I have a great aversion against labels – certainly against psychiatric labels that put a person into a defined box. Labels often have a stigma attached to the, for example DID, borderline, bipolar, or narcissistic. I am going to use narcissistic self parts here because if anyone wants to read up on this particular point, you can go on a google search and find plenty of information out there.
Narcissistic wounding, like other emotional wounding, often occurs early on in childhood. These wounds usually affect a person’s behaviour and personality throughout her/his life unless healing of these wounds is taking place.