Rikki looked over at me.“Why now? she asked, looking back at Arly. “Why is this happening now?Hard to say. Arly [therapist] replied. DID usually gets diagnosed in adulthood. Something happens that triggers the alters to come out. When Cam's father died and he came in to help his brother run the family business he was in close contact with his mother again. Maybe it was seeing Kyle around the same age when some of the abuse happened. Cam was sick for a long time and finally got better. Maybe he wasn't strong enough until now to handle this. It's probably a combination of things. But it sure looks like some of the abuse Cam experienced involved his mother. And sexual abuse by the mother is considered to he one of the most traumatic forms of abuse. In some ways it's the ultimate betrayal.
Dissociation is the ultimate form of human response to chronic developmental stress, because patients with dissociative disorders report the highest frequency of childhood abuse and/or neglect among all psychiatric disorders. The cardinal feature of dissociation is a disruption in one or more mental functions. Dissociative amnesia, depersonalization, derealization, identity confusion, and identity alterations are core phenomena of dissociative psychopathology which constitute a single dimension characterized by a spectrum of severity.Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience 2014 Dec; 12(3): 171-179The Many Faces of Dissociation: Opportunities for Innovative Research in Psychiatry
Dissociation is numbness and nothingness; it is a feeling of being lost; it is floating on a cloud that threatens to suffocate; it is automatic speech and action without awareness or control; it is looking at the world and blinking to try to remove the blurry fog; it is hearing and seeing the immediate world and simultaneously feeling very far away; it is raw fear; it is unfamiliarity in familiar places; it is possession; it is being haunted everyday by unknown monsters that can be felt but not seen (at least not by others); it is looking in the mirror and not knowing who is looking back; it is fantasy and imagination; and, above all else, it is survival. Dissociation is all of these things and none of them at once.
Although it is important to be able to recognise and disclose symptom of physical illnesses or injury, you need to be more careful about revealing psychiatric symptoms. Unless you know that your doctor understands trauma symptoms, including dissociation, you are wise not to reveal too much. Too many medical professionals, including psychiatrists, believe that hearing voices is a sign of schizophrenia, that mood swings mean bipolar disorder which has to be medicated, and that depression requires electro-convulsive therapy if medication does not relieve it sufficiently. The “medical model” simply does not work for dissociation, and many treatments can do more harm than good... You do not have to tell someone everything just because he is she is a doctor. However, if you have a therapist, even a psychiatrist, who does understand, you need to encourage your parts to be honest with that person. Then you can get appropriate help.
In this chapter I restrict myself to exploring the nature of the amnesia which is reported between personality states in most people who are diagnosed with DID. Note that this is not an explicit diagnostic criterion, although such amnesia features strongly in the public view of DID, particularly in the form of the fugue-like conditions depicted in ﬁlms of the condition, such as The Three Faces of Eve (1957). Typically, when one personality state, or ‘alter’, takes over from another, they have no idea what happened just before. They report having lost time, and often will have no idea where they are or how they got there. However, this is not a universal feature of DID. It happens that with certain individuals with DID, one personality state can retrieve what happened when another was in control. In other cases we have what is described as ‘co-consciousness’ where one personality state can apparently monitor what is happening when another personality state is in control and, in certain circumstances, can take over the conversation.
Punishments include such things as flashbacks, flooding of unbearable emotions, painful body memories, flooding of memories in which the survivor perpetrated against others, self-harm, and suicide attempts.
However, we have to acknowledge that living with DID presents huge challenges; it is complex and complicated. But our diagnosis was the key to us accessing services and funding, which has enabled us to return to life within the community and to have a positive future. We can see constructive, productive elements in our life, and our faith plays a strong part in this.
Our future can be brighter. We know that with the right help, continued treatment, and support we can potentially aim for partial or full integration. Yet even if this is not possible, whatever happens we can move forwards. We can live with the multiplicity of being an us and not a me, a we and not an I. We know that, as we are already living that life.
It appears that DDNOS is the intentional goal of these abusers, but DID sometimes results from a failure of programming. In DDNOS, the ANP is always present, even when another part is in control of the behavior and feelings.
when evoking personal recollections, patients with depersonalization often complain that memories feel as if they really didn't happen to them
Fear and anxiety affect decision making in the direction of more caution and risk aversion... Traumatized individuals pay more attention to cues of threat than other experiences, and they interpret ambiguous stimuli and situations as threatening (Eyesenck, 1992), leading to more fear-driven decisions. In people with a dissociative disorder, certain parts are compelled to focus on the perception of danger. Living in trauma-time, these dissociative parts immediately perceive the present as being just like the past and emergency emotions such as fear, rage, or terror are immediately evoked, which compel impulsive decisions to engage in defensive behaviors (freeze, flight, fight, or collapse). When parts of you are triggered, more rational and grounded parts may be overwhelmed and unable to make effective decisions.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is borne out of trauma. Many individuals who survive severe trauma will later experience marked anxiety, which may or may not relate to triggers from the original trauma. Individuals with DID are highly likely to have a great deal of anxiety.
The major goal of the Cold War mind control programs was to create dissociative symptoms and disorders, including full multiple personality disorder. The Manchurian Candidate is fact, not fiction, and was created by the CIA in the 1950’s under BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE mind control programs. Experiments with LSD, sensory deprivation,electro-convulsive treatment, brain electrode implants and hypnosis were designed to create amnesia, depersonalization, changes in identity and altered states of consciousness. (p. iii)“Denial of the reality of multiple personality by these doctors [See page 114 for names] in the mind control network, who are also on the FMSF [False Memory Syndrome Foundation] Scientific and Professional Advisory Board, could be disinformation. The disinformation could be amplified by attacks on specialists in multiple personality as CIA conspiracy lunatics” (P.10)“If clinical multiple personality is buried and forgotten, then the Manchurian Candidate Programs will be safe from public scrutiny. (p.141)
There needs to be a nationwide awareness programme for all NHS staff, to educate them about dissociative disorders. Diagnoses need to be more obtainable within the NHS; people's lives should be placed ahead of funding restraints and bureaucratic red tape. We need minimum standards of care and treatment agreed and implemented within the NHS to end the current nightmare of the postcode lottery—not just guidelines that can be ignored but actual regulations.
Those with dissociative disorders face a big enough battle living as multiples and dealing with past trauma. Like everyone else, they deserve to be heard and recognised, not stigmatised.
And if we do speak out, we risk rejection and ridicule. I had a best friend once, the kind that you go shopping with and watch films with, the kind you go on holiday with and rescue when her car breaks down on the A1. Shortly after my diagnosis, I told her I had DID. I haven't seen her since. The stench and rankness of a socially unacceptable mental health disorder seems to have driven her away.
Perfectionism is the unparalleled defense for emotionally abandoned children. The existential unattainability of perfection saves the child from giving up, unless or until, scant success forces him to retreat into the depression of a dissociative disorder, or launches him hyperactively into an incipient conduct disorder. Perfectionism also provides a sense of meaning and direction for the powerless and unsupported child. In the guise of self-control, striving to be perfect offers a simulacrum of a sense of control. Self-control is also safer to pursue because abandoning parents typically reserve their severest punishment for children who are vocal about their negligence.
Dissociative Disorders have a high rate of responsiveness to therapy and that with proper treatment, their prognosis is quite good.
My client who has only three alter personalities besides the ANP was unaware of her multiplicity until she encountered a work-related trauma at age sixty. She became symptomatic as the hidden parts emerged to deal with the recent trauma.
It is not unusual for subjects diagnosed with a Dissociative Disorder on the SCID-D to be surprised at having their symptoms validated by a clinician who understands the nature of their disorder.
Although Dissociative Disorders have been observed from the beginnings of psychiatry, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R Dissociative Disorders (Steinberg 1985) was the first diagnostic instrument for the comprehensive evaluation of dissociative symptoms and to diagnose the presence of Dissociative Disorders.
The SCID-D may be used to assess the nature and severity of dissociative symptoms in a variety of Axis I and II psychiatric disorders, including the Anxiety Disorders (such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] and Acute Stress Disorder), Affective Disorders, Psychotic Disorders, Eating Disorders, and Personality Disorders.The SCID-D was developed to reduce variability in clinical diagnostic procedures and was designed for use with psychiatric patients as well as with nonpatients (community subjects or research subjects in primary care).
...the vast majority of these [dissociative identity disorder] patients have subtle presentations characterized by a mixture of dissociative and PTSD symptoms embedded with other symptoms, such as posttraumatic depression, substance abuse, somatoform symptoms, eating disorders, and self-destructive and impulsive behaviors.2,10A history of multiple treatment providers, hospitalizations, and good medication trials, many of which result in only partial or no benefit, is often an indicator of dissociative identity disorder or another form of complex PTSD.
Prior to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder had been referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder. The renaming of this diagnosis has caused quite a bit of confusion among professionals and those who live with DID. Because dissociation describes the process by which DID begins to develop, rather than the actual outcome of this process (the formation of various personalities), this new term may be a bit un
Shortly after I began work with Teresa, I acquired another MPD client, a supposedly schizophrenic young man I will call Tony. He called in to the clinic on a day I was on telephone duty, saying he was having flashbacks of ritual abuse.” I did not yet know what that was. Tony became my client. He could be quite entertaining. I have a vivid memory of him as a three-year-old, Tiny Tony,” standing on his head on my office couch, and running down the hall to try unsuccessfully to make it to the bathroom. He had in his head the entire rock band of Guns’n’Roses, and I got to know Axl, the band leader, quite well. I remember the time Tony was in hospital and I went to visit him; Axl popped out and said, Remember, we’re schizophrenic in here!
Among DID individuals, the sharing of conscious awareness between alters exists in varying degrees. I have seen cases where there has appeared to be no amnestic barriers between individual alters, where the host and alters appeared to be fully cognizant of each other. On the other hand, I have seen cases where the host was absolutely unaware of any alters despite clear evidence of their presence. In those cases, while the host was not aware of the alters, there were alters with an awareness of the host as well as having some limited awareness of at least a few other alters. So, according to my experience, there is a spectrum of shared consciousness in DID patients. From a therapeutic point of view, while treatment of patients without amnestic barriers differs in some ways from treatment of those with such barriers, the fundamental goal of therapy is the same: to support the healing of the early childhood trauma that gave rise to the dissociation and its attendant alters.Good DID therapy involves promoting co-consciousness. With co-consciousness, it is possible to begin teaching the patient’s system the value of cooperation among the alters. Enjoin them to emulate the spirit of a champion football team, with each member utilizing their full potential and working together to achieve a common goal.Returning to the patients that seemed to lack amnestic barriers, it is important to understand that such co-consciousness did not mean that the host and alters were well-coordinated or living in harmony. If they were all in harmony, there would be no “disease.” There would be little likelihood of a need or even desire for psychiatric intervention. It is when there is conflict between the host and/or among alters that treatment is needed.
Dissociative parts of the personality are not actually separate identities or personalities in one body, but rather parts of a single individual that are not yet functioning together in a smooth, coordinated, flexible way. P14
Due to previous lack of systematic assessment of dissociative symptoms, many subjects experience the SCID-D as their first opportunity to describe their symptoms in their own words to a receptive listener.