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Plant (c) Lynda BernhardtOne my readers named Lost Sheep sent me a link to a fascinating article: What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (Formerly Multiple Identity Disorder)? The author(s) have done their homework. This is one of the best overviews I have read about DID from a mental health professional perspective.

In this blog entry, I would like to expound upon what they have said, coming from a perspective of a person who has lived it. My comments correspond with the article’s headings.

Short

I like the description of DID being a child experiencing distance “within” himself. That was definitely true for me. I would “disappear” into myself while the abuse was happening. The rock band Evanescence puts this very well in their song Whisper:

Catch me as I fall
Say you’re here and it’s all over now
Speaking to the atmosphere
No one’s here and I fall into myself – Evanescence

Alters, Personality Parts

I agree that the word “part” is a more appropriate descriptor than “alter.” All of the parts make up the whole. I am glad that they cover animal parts because most people are unaware that parts can be animals, so they freak out when they come into contact with those parts.

Alter Structure

All that the author wrote was fascinating. What I would like to add is that, with severe abuse, you might find the alters in “layers” or “clusters.”

I had six layers of alter parts. Most layers were unaware of other layers, which helped further hide my “secrets” from myself. For example, one layer held the memories of the mother-daughter sexual abuse. Another layer held the memories of the ritual abuse.

If someone endures extreme trauma, she might fragment her inner child into inner children. Each inner child will have protector parts assigned to it to keep it safe. This is to protect the child from having the essence of who she is obliterated. So, for example, I had a part of myself (like my love of the piano) protected by an animal alter part and another protector part. So, the abuser would have to get through both “bodyguards” in order to reach that part of myself. The group would be called a “cluster.”

Hearing Voices

I never “heard voices.” I describe what I experienced as “having loud thoughts” that did not originate from “me.”

Switching or Alter Changes

This is a fear that most “hosts” have – the part that a person with DID sees as “me.” If you invite the other parts out instead of fighting them, it becomes much less scary. All parts are parts of the whole.

Triggers

Yeah, the stuff in the second paragraph feels freaky until you understand what is going on. My sister used to have days when she “felt short.” That was an alter part. When my wolf alter part would emerge, I could feel the fur and the paws. It can feel bizarre.

That’s all of the comments that I have about the article. It really is a good resource.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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