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Archive for April 27th, 2009

When I was in high school, my teacher showed the class the movie The Three Faces of Eve, which is about one of the first documented cases of dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder. In this movie, the narrator talked about how three women were sharing one body. At the end of the movie, two of the people “disappeared,” and the woman was left with only one of the women inside. That woman held all of the childhood memories.

I vehemently disagree with this explanation of DID. A person with DID does not have a bunch of “people” living inside of her sharing a body. Every person is born with only one spirit. In reaction to severe and ongoing trauma, young children (typically under age 6) have the gift of being able to “split” or “splinter off” parts of their spirit to separate traumatic memories, emotions, and feelings from conscious awareness. The more a person with DID rejects a part of herself, the more separate that part will feel. The part might feel so separate that it feels like another person, but it is not. All of the parts are still interconnected, however minimally, because they are all parts of one spirit.

In my experience, the parts that felt like completely different people (or animals) felt more separate from the perspective of the host personality. For most of my life, my host personality would be tucked safely inside (causing me to lose time) while my wolf alter part came out at night to protect me. If I was abused, the wolf or another part would take the abuse so that my host personality could remain safe.

As I began to heal, my host personality began stay co-present, which means that I (from the perspective of the host) would observe another part when it came out. It felt like I (the host) was being pushed to the side. I would feel what the other part was feeling (such as sadness or rage), but the emotions did not feel like “mine.”

When I finally integrated the host back into the core, I stopped losing time, which meant that I had healed from the DSM IV definition of DID . However, I still had many separate parts. Each held a memory, emotion, or feeling that I was not yet ready to face. Integrating the parts meant having to accept each part as “me.” I had to accept that **I** was the one who was abused, not another little girl that I watched from the ceiling. It was **my** body that was harmed, not someone else’s.

I have come to realize that every single part is just a part of myself that needs healing. As I accept each part as “me” and choose to love that part of myself, I no longer need to keep that part separate. I need to worry about “controlling” another part because they are all me and always have been.

Related Topic:

Understanding Integration

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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