Archive for January 10th, 2011

On my blog entry entitled DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and Accountability, I said:

I have always maintained that a person with DID is responsible for all behaviors and actions taken regardless of which alter part made the choice to act in a particular way. This is because each alter part is you. While each alter part might “feel” completely foreign to you (from the perspective of the host personality), each part is you. ~ Faith

A reader posted the following comment:

I’m sorry, but that’s just not true.

A) DID (or any serious mental or behavior disorder) effects different people in different ways -and to a wide variety of degrees. Blanket statements simply do not apply.

B) Furthermore, you can’t say that “all these parts are still YOU” when it’s impossible to define the nature/concept of Identity. There is no agreed upon, scientific definition for “Identity”
Ever study the field of A.I.? The biggest problem in creating an A.I., (and the reason we haven’t) is that we can’t really define “intelligence” -we need to know what the goal is in order to reach the goal. This is an example of, and the same point re “identity”.

I understand what you’re trying to say. But sometimes, there really IS nobody home; or the person that is home, has no concept of right and wrong. And I can tell you for a fact that happens. ~Touched with Fire

First, let me clarify that my comments were restricted to people diagnosed with DID or other forms of dissociative disorders. I completely agree with Touched by Fire that there are people who have no concept of right or wrong, but those are not people with DID – they are psychopaths and/or people with mental illnesses. (DID is not a mental illness.) It is possible for people to have both DID and a mental illness, but it would be the mental illness that causes the person to have no concept of right or wrong, not the DID.

I don’t know a thing about artificial intelligence, but I do know a lot about DID because I have lived with it for my entire life and have been healing from it since 2003. Yes, DID does affect different people in different ways. In fact, on Isurvive (a message board for child abuse survivors), a member provided the best definition I have ever heard of DID – it is a “create your own disorder” disorder. The variations in DID (and other dissociative disorders) are only limited by the creativity of the children “creating” it.

There are some blankets statements that do apply to all people with DID. All people with DID were severely traumatized as children on an ongoing basis (typically beginning by age six). You simply don’t get it any other way. If you did, then some Prisoners of War (POW) would develop DID, but they don’t, even when they have endured severe torture tactics on a daily basis over a period of years. My theory is that DID is a gift provided for young children who have no other way to escape the trauma. Maria Montessori observed that children through age six are in one stage of development that ends at age six, which is why she designed her school with age six being the magic age to move from one system of learning to another. I think there is something special about that stage of develop that gives children the gift of escaping the trauma through DID.

Of course, you can make blanket statements about the symptoms of DID – memory loss that is unaccounted for by addiction or another medical condition and the presence of two or more distinct identities (alter parts) that take control of the person’s behavior. In fact, the main difference between DID and other dissociative disorders is the presence or absence of alter parts. I have talked with people who have a diagnosis of Dissociative Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (DD-NOS) whose experiences are very similar to my experience with DID, but they split into colors or in other ways instead of alter parts, which pushed them out of a DID classification.

One other blanket observation is just my own – I have yet to meet someone with DID who is not, to some extent, a “people pleaser.” My own theory is that DID is, in part, caused by the intense need to be different things to different people that are inconsistent with each other. For example, I needed to be a whore at night, a well-behaved daughter in the mornings, and a perfect student at school while “stuffing down” (not expressing) my reactions to the trauma. I had to be different things to different people, and I did this by “splitting myself” to make this happen.

Of course, I can only speak from my own experience and from what I have learned about other people’s experiences. The books I have read and the hundreds of people I have spoken with online who have healed (or are healing) from DID show dramatic improvement in their symptoms as they embrace each part as “me.” See the article Understanding Integration for more information on this topic (written by a clinician who has fully integrated from DID).

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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