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Posts Tagged ‘dissociative identity disorder profile’

Tree branch (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Thanks to Hollywood’s portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), most people think of a person with DID as “crazy” with a mental illness in which they are completely unpredictable. One person who read Truddi Chase’s book, When Rabbit Howls, commented about how amazed she was that Truddi was able to be a successful business woman while having DID.

If you understand the profile of a person with DID, you will realize that this is not “amazing” or surprising. DID is an amazing coping tool that enables a young child to survive extreme trauma, so why is it surprising that the same child would grow into an adult who was successful in business?

If I could survive extreme trauma as a little girl, why is it surprising that I can succeed in whatever I set my mind to as an adult? Anyone who knows me in my off-line life will tell you how organized I am. People marvel at how I am able to juggle as many things as I do in a given day. I am very active in my church, my kid’s school, with my new adoption website, and my friends, and I still set aside time to nurture myself through yoga, meditation, and exercise. I make daunting tasks look easy. This is not in spite of my DID history; it is because of it.

If you look up DID in the DSM-IV, you will see the following description of the disorder:

  • Person has two or more distinct identities
  • At least two identities take control of the person’s behavior
  • Loss of time or unexplained forgetfulness, like finding clothes in the closet that you don’t remember buying

I am paraphrasing for brevity, but that is the basic gist.

That description comes from observation from the outside by people who have not experienced DID. My profile would be much different. This profile is based upon my own experience as well as those of the many people with DID that I have met and/or read about over the years:

  • Began experiencing ongoing and severe trauma before age 6
  • Fear they are fundamentally warped in the head
  • Feel detached from their emotions
  • Inability to trust
  • Intelligent
  • Large holes in childhood memories
  • People-pleaser (tries to be who others want them to be)
  • Reject parts of themselves with strong emotions (particularly anger and grief)
  • Sometimes say or feel things that seem to come from “somewhere else”
  • Strong will to survive
  • Underlying feeling of melancholy without knowing the cause

Rather than having “two people” sharing a body, all of the parts make up one “person.” DID is nothing more that compartmentalization in order to endure severe trauma.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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