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Archive for June 18th, 2008

Plant (c) Lynda BernhardtA reader recently told me that she questioned her diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (DID) because she does not “hear voices.” Many people have the misconception that people with dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) “hear voices.” They do not. People with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, sometimes “hear voices,” but that is not the case with DID.

The problem with DID is trying to explain what alter parts “sound like” in your head. There are no auditory sounds involved. The best way I can describe it is that I had thoughts that were “not mine.” I describe them as “loud thoughts” or “strong thoughts” that did not originate with “me.”

Perhaps an example would make this clearer…

My healing process began after I and my then-two-year-old son spent the night at my mother/abuser’s house. At this point in my life, I had no awareness of having ever been abused, having DID, or having alter parts. My mother insisted that I go on an errand at midnight. While I was gone, she went into my son’s room. She told me this when I returned.

I completely flipped out. I ran into my son’s room and brought him into the guest room with me. I cried and held him close. I asked him what “that crazy lady” did to him. My heart was racing, and my mind was flooded with fear that my mother had sexually abused my son. The weird part was that none of this was coming from “me.”

I felt like I (my spirit??) had been shoved to one corner of my head. I could see and hear everything that was going on around me, but it was from a distance, and I was not driving my body. I heard my voice talking, but I was not telling my body to say those words. I could feel the intense fear and was baffled as to why I was fearful that my mother might have sexually abused my son. Yes, I knew that she was mentally ill, but I had no memory at that point of her sexually abusing either my sister or me.

After that, being co-present with alter parts became a normal part of my life until I integrated. I never “heard” any voices, but I could “feel” their thoughts, and their thoughts felt separate from mine.

I hope this helps others to understand what internal communication with DID is like.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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