Archive for January 8th, 2008

Myth of Sanity

One of the best books I have read about dissociation is Martha Stout’s The Myth of Sanity: Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness. I found this book after becoming aware of dissociating quite a bit without having recovered any memories of the abuse. I feared I might be going crazy and hoped that this book would provide me with some answers.

This book explained dissociation to me in a way that I could understand. The author says that dissociation runs on a continuum. On the far left, we have normal dissociation that everyone experiences. An example of this is “losing yourself” in a good movie. While you are caught up in the movie, you temporarily “forget” that you are surrounded by people in a dark room. In the middle of the continuum is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). On the far right is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder. Between PTSD and DID are all of the dissociative disorders that are more severe than PTSD without reaching the extreme of DID.

What’s funny is that I knew that I had a dissociative disorder while still being in denial about having PTSD. Anyone with a dissociative order, by definition, also struggles with PTSD. By seeing this on a continuum, it helped me to understand dissociation much better. Also, the continuum helped me to understand DID in a way that I had not beforehand.

The book shares stories of several patients who have struggled with various forms of dissociation. At the end of the book, the author shares a particularly powerful story about a patient who has healed from her past. The stories helped me to feel less alone and also gave me hope that, perhaps one day, I would be like the lady who healed at the end of the book. And now I am. :0)

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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