At cocktail parties, I played the part of a successful businessman's wife to perfection. I smiled, I made polite chit-chat, and I dressed the part. Denial and rationalization were two of my most effective tools in working my way through our social obligations. I believed that playing the roles of wife and mother were the least I could do to help support Tom's career.During the day, I was a puzzle with innumerable pieces. One piece made my family a nourishing breakfast. Another piece ferried the kids to school and to soccer practice. A third piece managed to trip to the grocery store. There was also a piece that wanted to sleep for eighteen hours a day and the piece that woke up shaking from yet another nightmare. And there was the piece that attended business functions and actually fooled people into thinking I might have something constructive to offer.I was a circus performer traversing the tightwire, and I could fall off into a vortex devoid of reality at any moment. There was, and had been for a very long time, an intense sense of despair. A self-deprecating voice inside told me I had no chance of getting better. I lived in an emotional black hole.p20-21, talking about dissociative identity disorder (formerly multiple personality disorder).
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.
A child who is being abused on an ongoing basis needs to be able to function despite the trauma that dominates his or her daily life. That becomes the job of at least one ANP [apparently normal part of the personality], whom the child creates to be unaware of the abuse and also of the multiplicity, and to “pass as normal” in the real world. The ANP is just an alter specialized for handling the adult world—in other words, the “front person” for the system.
The apparently normal personality - the alter you view as the clientYou should not assume that the adult who function in the world, or who presents to you, week after week, is the real person, and the other personalities are less real. The client who comes to therapy is not the person; there are other personalities to meet and work
What daily life is like for “a multiple” Imagine that you have periods of “lost time.” You may find writings or drawings which you must have done, but do not remember producing. Perhaps you find child-sized clothing or toys in your home but have no children. You might also hear voices or babies crying in your head. Imagine that you can never predict when you will be able to have certain knowledge or social skills, and your emotions and your energy level seem to change at the drop of a hat, and for no apparent reason. You cannot understand why you feel what you feel, and, if you are in therapy, you cannot explore those feelings when asked. Your life feels disjointed and often confusing. It is a frightening experience. It feels out of control, and you probably think you are going crazy. That is what it is like to be multiple, and all of it is experienced by the ANPs. A multiple may also experience very concrete problems, even life-threatening ones.
I recently consulted to a therapist who felt he had accomplished something by getting his dissociative client to remain in her ANP throughout her sessions with him. His view reflects the fundamental mistake that untrained therapists tend to make with DID and DDNOS. Although his client was properly diagnosed, he assumed that the ANP should be encouraged to take charge of the other parts at all times. He also expected her to speak for them—in other words, to do their therapy. This denied the other parts the opportunity to reveal their secrets, heal their pain, or correct their childhood-based beliefs about the world.If you were doing family therapy, would it be a good idea to only meet with the father, especially if he had not talked with his children or his spouse in years? Would the other family members feel as if their experiences and feelings mattered?Would they be able to improve their relationships? You must work with the parts who are inside of the system. Directly.
As an undergraduate student in psychology, I was taught that multiple personalities were a very rare and bizarre disorder. That is all that I was taught on ... It soon became apparent that what I had been taught was simply not true. Not only was I meeting people with multiplicity; these individuals entering my life were normal human beings with much to offer. They were simply people who had endured more than their share of pain in this life and were struggling to make sense of it.
As a therapist, I have many avenues in which to learn about DID, but I hear exactly the opposite from clients and others who are struggling to understand their own existence. When I talk to them about the need to let supportive people into their lives, I always get a variation of the same answer. It is not safe. They won't understand. My goal here is to provide a small piece of that gigantic puzzle of understanding. If this book helps someone with DID start a conversation with a supportive friend or family member, understanding will be increased.
Some alters are what Dr Ross describes in Multiple Personality Disorder as 'fragments'. which are 'relatively limited psychic states that express only one feeling, hold one memory, or carry out a limited task in the person's life. A fragment might be a frightened child who holds the memory of one particular abuse incident.' In complex multiples, Dr Ross continues, the 'personalities are relatively full-bodied, complete states capable of a range of emotions and behaviours.' The alters will have 'executive control some substantial amount of time over the person's life'. He stresses, and I repeat his emphasis, 'Complex MPD with over 15 alter personalities and complicated amnesia barriers are associated with 100 percent frequency of childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse.' Did I imagine the castle, the dungeon, the ritual orgies and violations? Did Lucy, Billy, Samuel, Eliza, Shirley and Kato make it all up? I went back to the industrial estate and found the castle. It was an old factory that had burned to the ground, but the charred ruins of the basement remained. I closed my eyes and could see the black candles, the dancing shadows, the inverted pentagram, the people chanting through hooded robes. I could see myself among other children being abused in ways that defy imagination. I have no doubt now that the cult of devil worshippers was nothing more than a ring of paedophiles, the satanic paraphernalia a cover for their true lusts: the innocent bodies of young children.
It is necessary to make this point in answer to the `iatrogenic' theory that the unveiling of repressed memories in MPD sufferers, paranoids and schizophrenics can be created in analysis; a fabrication of the doctor—patient relationship. According to Dr Ross, this theory, a sort of psychiatric ping-pong 'has never been stated in print in a complete and clearly argued way'. My case endorses Dr Ross's assertions. My memories were coming back to me in fragments and flashbacks long before I began therapy. Indications of that abuse, ritual or otherwise, can be found in my medical records and in notebooks and poems dating back before Adele Armstrong and Jo Lewin entered my life. There have been a number of cases in recent years where the police have charged groups of people with subjecting children to so-called satanic or ritual abuse in paedophile rings. Few cases result in a conviction. But that is not proof that the abuse didn't take place, and the police must have been very certain of the evidence to have brought the cases to court in the first place. The abuse happens. I know it happens. Girls in psychiatric units don't always talk to the shrinks, but they need to talk and they talk to each other. As a child I had been taken to see Dr Bradshaw on countless occasions; it was in his surgery that Billy had first discovered Lego. As I was growing up, I also saw Dr Robinson, the marathon runner. Now that I was living back at home, he was again my GP. When Mother bravely told him I was undergoing treatment for MPD/DID as a result of childhood sexual abuse, he buried his head in hands and wept.(Alice refers to her constant infections as a child, which were never recognised as caused by sexual abuse)
The physical shape of Mollies paralyses and contortions fit the pattern of late-nineteenth-century hysteria as well — in particular the phases of grand hysteria described by Jean-Martin Charcot, a French physician who became world-famous in the 1870s and 1880s for his studies of hysterics...The hooplike spasm Mollie experienced sounds uncannily like what Charcot considered the ultimate grand movement, the arc de de cercle (also called arc-en-ciel), in which the patient arched her back, balancing on her heels and the top of her head...One of his star patients, known to her audiences only as Louise, was a specialist in the arc de cercle — and had a background and hysterical manifestations quite similar to Mollie's. A small-town girl who made her way to Paris in her teens, Louise had had a disrupted childhood, replete with abandonment and sexual abuse.She entered Salpetriere in 1875, where while under Charcot's care she experienced partial paralysis and complete loss of sensation over the right side of her body, as well as a decrease in hearing, smell, taste, and vision. She had frequent violent, dramatic hysterical fits, alternating with hallucinations and trancelike phases during which she would see her mother and other people she knew standing before her (this symptom would manifest itself in Mollie). Although critics, at the time and since, have decried the sometime circus atmosphere of Charcot's lectures, and claimed that he, inadvertently or not, trained his patients how to be hysterical, he remains a key figure in understanding nineteenth-century hysteria.
Chronic trauma (according to the meaning I propose) that occurs early in life has profound effects on personality development and can lead to the development of dissociative identity disorder (DID), other dissociative disorders, personality disorders, psychotic thinking, and a host of symptoms such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse. In my view, DID is simply an extreme version of the dissociative structure of the psyche that characterizes us all.
SELFHOOD AND DISSOCIATIONThe patient with DID or dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DDNOS) has used their capacity to psychologically remove themselves from repetitive and inescapable traumas in order to survive that which could easily lead to suicide or psychosis, and in order to eke some growth in what is an unsafe, frequently contradictory and emotionally barren environment.For a child dependent on a caregiver who also abuses her, the only way to maintain the attachment is to block information about the abuse from the mental mechanisms that control attachment and attachment behaviour.10 Thus, childhood abuse is more likely to be forgotten or otherwise made inaccessible if the abuse is perpetuated by a parent or other trusted caregiver.In the dissociative individual, ‘there is no uniting self which can remember to forget’. Rather than use repression to avoid traumatizing memories, he/she resorts to alterations in the self ‘as a central and coherent organization of experience. . . DID involves not just an alteration in content but, crucially, a change in the very structure of consciousness and the self’ (p. 187).29 There may be multiple representations of the self and of others.Middleton, Warwick. Owning the past, claiming the present: perspectives on the treatment of dissociative patients. Australasian Psychiatry 13.1 (2005): 40-49.
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.
It was soon after that I, overwhelmed with the implications of that memory, overdosed - well, somebody did but as it was my mouth and my stomach that was involved I had to take the consequences. Somehow or other (did an alter ring him?) Bruce (from my support group) got to know, drove over and took us to the hospital.
Theirs was the eternal youth of an alternating self, a youth with the constant although unfulfilled promise of growing up
The government researchers,aware of the information in the professional journals, decided to reverse the process (of healing from hysteric dissociation). They decided to use selective trauma on healthy children to create personalities capable of committing acts desired for national security and defense.” p. 53 – 54
Patrice had long since buried the particulars of events so painful that they caused her to resolve only to see good. With such a stance, such as dissociative split, she could walk with evil and believe it did not exist. She was Joe's perfect mate.
Joe knew that for some, really for most, the derivations of belladonna that blurred their vision and caused their hearts to race would, as well, hasten their forgetting of detail. They would not recall, not readily, any sense of pain or shame or doubt or threat of danger. There were always children to be used. Members were obliged to offer their children, although not necessarily every child in a family was used. Some were found to be not suited for the rigor. Some were left alone so that if the involved children in a family were to attempt to tell, siblings could not corroborate their experience.
I was increasingly both horrified and sceptical about these memories - I had no recall of these things at all, though I couldn't imagine why I'd want to make it all up either. It felt as though it had all happened to somebody else, I was not there - it wasn't me - when those people did nasty things.But then, of course, it didn't feel like me, that's the whole point of dissociation - to create distance between the victim and her experience of the abuse. The alters were created for just that purpose: so that I'd not be aware that it happened to me, but rather to others. The trouble is, in reality it was my body that took the abuse. It was only my mind that was divided, and sooner or later the amnesic barriers were bound to come down.And that's exactly what had begun to happen as I heard their stories. They triggered a vague and growing sense in me that this really is my story.
It is now recognised that dissociation is a way of forgetting, for a time. The mind siphons off the bad memories into a separate part, and reclaiming those hidden-away memories us a complex process. So, when the memories resurface it does not feel as though they belong to you, it feels alien, more as if someone had told them to you, or you had seen the images in a film.
it felt increasingly, as I became more whole, that I had made it all up, and that I was a phoney. I had to come to some place of acceptance. If I made it all up, then I am an unspeakably evil person, leading so many wonderful, intelligent people astray. What a scheming mind I must have. I knowledge will be hard too live with. But harder still is the thought that perhaps, just perhaps it is all true; that I really was horribly, ritualistically abused in a satanic setting, over and over again and as a result my mind fragmented. The implications of that are completely overwhelming. It was me, my body, that they did those things to. No, I would rather believe I am an evil and deceitful person. At least the I can change, and say sorry, and live a better life from now on.
Throughout our times with Christopher [therapist] we were encouraged to work together at communicating on the inside. He pointed out that it would be good for us all to listen-in when an alter was telling his/her story - that it's now safe, no harm will come to us from telling or from knowing. There was once a time when it was very important that we didn't know what had happened; that knowing meant danger or being so overwhelmed with pain and grief that we wouldn't survive. But now it was different. We're safe and strong, and our goal now are to uncover the grisly truth of what's happened to us, so that it's no longer a powerful secret. We can look at it and face the past for what it is - old memories of old events. Today is now,and we can choose to live a different way and believe different things. We were once powerless and vulnerable, but now we were in a position to make choices. We had control over our life.
Secret ceremonies in which malevolent men and women cloaked in hooded robes, hiding behind painted faces and chanting demonic incantations while inflicting sadistic wounds on innocent children lying on makeshift alters, or tied to inverted crosses, sounds like the stuff of which B-grade horror movies are made. Some think amoral religious cults only populate the world of Rosemary's Baby, but don't exist in real life. Or, do they? Ask Jenny Hill.
DID is about survival! As more people begin to appreciate this concept, individuals with DID will start to feel less as though they have to hide in shame. DID develops as a response to extreme trauma that occurs at an early age and usually over an extended period of time.
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.
Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33Freyd: The term multiple personality itself assumes that there is single personality and there is evidence that no one ever displays a single personality.TAT: The issue here is the extent of dissociation and amnesia and the extent to which these fragmentary aspects of personality can take executive control and control function. Sure, you and I have different parts to our mind, there's no doubt about that, but I don't lose time to mine they can't come out in the middle of a lecture and start acting 7 years old. I'm very much in the camp that says that we all are multi-minds, but the difference between you and me and a multiple is pretty tangible.Freyd: Those are clearly interesting questions, but that area and the clinical aspects of dissociation and multiple personalities is beyond anything the Foundation is actively...TAT: That's a real problem. Let me tell you why that's a problem. Many of the people that have been alleged to have false memory syndrome have diagnosed dissociative disorders. It seems to me the fact that you don't talk about dissociative disorders is a little dishonest, since many people whose lives have been impacted by this movement are MPD or have a dissociative disorder. To say, Well, we ONLY know about repression but not about dissociation or multiple personalities seems irresponsible.Freyd: Be that as it may, some of the scientific issues with memory are clear. So if we can just stick with some things for a moment; one is that memories are reconstructed and reinterpreted no matter how long ago or recent.TAT: You weigh the recollected testimony of an alleged perpetrator more than the alleged victim's. You're saying, basically, if the parents deny it, that's another notch for disbelief.Freyd: If it's denied, certainly one would want to check things. It would have to be one of many factors that are weighed -- and that's the problem with these issues -- they are not black and white, they're very complicated issues.
As a child I had been taken to see Dr Bradshaw on countless occasions; it was in his surgery that Billy had first discovered Lego. As I was growing up, I also saw Dr Robinson, the marathon runner. Now that I was living back at home, he was again my GP. When Mother bravely told him I was undergoing treatment for MPD/DID as a result of childhood sexual abuse, he buried his head in hands and wept.Child abuse will always re-emerge, no matter how many years go by. We read of cases of people who have come forward after thirty or forty years to say they were abused as children in care homes by wardens, schoolteachers, neighbours, fathers, priests. The Catholic Church in the United States in the last decade has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for 'acts of sodomy and depravity towards children', to quote one information-exchange web-site. Why do these ageing people make the abuse public so late in their lives? To seek attention? No, it's because deep down there is a wound they need to bring out into the clean air before it can heal. Many clinicians miss signs of abuse in children because they, as decent people, do not want to find evidence of what Dr Ross suggests is 'a sick society that has grown sicker, and the abuse of children more bizarre'. (Note: this was written in the UK many years before the revelations of Jimmy Savile's widespread abuse, which included some ritual abuse)
Some alters are what Dr Ross describes in Multiple Personality Disorder as 'fragments', which are 'relatively limited psychic states that express only one feeling, hold one memory or carry out a limited task in the person's life. A fragment might be a frightened child who holds the memory of one particular abuse incident.' In complex multiples, Dr Ross continues, the `personalities are relatively full-bodied, complete states capable of a rang of emotions and behaviours.' The alters will have `executive control some substantial amount of time over the person life'. He stresses, and I repeat his emphasis, 'Complex MPD with over 15 alter personalities and complicated amnesic barriers are associated with 100 percent frequency of childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
Did I imagine the castle, the dungeon, the ritual orgies and violations? Did Lucy, Billy, Samuel, Eliza, Shirley and Kato make it all up? I went back to the industrial estate and found the castle. It was an old factory that had burned to the ground, but the charred ruins of the basement remained. I closed my eyes and could see the black candles, the dancing shadows, the inverted pentagram, the people chanting through hooded robes. I could see myself among other children being abused in ways that defy imagination. I have no doubt now that the cult of devil worshippers was nothing more than a ring of paedophiles, the satanic paraphernalia a cover for their true lusts: the innocent bodies of young children.
By the time Cheryl Hersha came to the facility, knowledge of multiple personality was so complete that doctors understood how the mind separated into distinct ego states, each unaware of the other. First, the person traumatized had to be both extremely intelligent and under the age of seven, two conditions not yet understood though remaining consistent as factors. The trauma was almost always of a sexual nature… (p52)
Ritual abuse diagnosis research – excerpt from a chapter in: Lacter, E. & Lehman, K. (2008).Guidelines to Differential Diagnosis between Schizophrenia and Ritual Abuse/Mind Control Traumatic Stress. In J.R. Noblitt & P. Perskin(Eds.), Ritual Abuse in the Twenty-first Century: Psychological, Forensic, Social and Political Considerations, pp. 85-154. Bandon, Oregon: Robert D. Reed Publishers. quotes: A second study revealed that these results were unrelated to patients’ degree of media and hospital milieu exposure to the subject of Satanic ritual abuse. “In fact, less media exposure was associated with production of more Satanic content in patients reporting ritual abuse, evidence that reports of ritual abuse are not primarily the product of exposure contagion.” Responses are consistent with the devastating and pervasive abuse these victims have experienced, so often including immediate family members.
Dissociative Disorders have a high rate of responsiveness to therapy and that with proper treatment, their prognosis is quite good.
Many people with Dissociative Disorders are very creative and used their creative capacities to help them cope with childhood trauma.p55
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 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.
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!
Another of the difficulties of having DID is the denial. DID is a disorder of denial. It has to be because if the original person knew about the alters and felt their pain, they would either go crazy and be hospitalized permanently, or would die.
It all made sense — terrible sense. The panic she had experienced in the warehouse district because of not knowing what had happened had been superseded at the newsstand by the even greater panic of partial knowledge. And now the torment of partly knowing had yielded to the infinitely greater terror of knowing precisely
It is my hope that this book helps those who know and love people with DID: family members, lovers, coworkers, and friends. It is also my hope that those charged with intervening in families in which there is violence will take away a more nuanced approach to their important work, informed by a deeper understanding of trauma.Most of all, I hope that those of you who have DID know that the disorder itself is an incredible survival technique. You should feel proud to have survived. Trauma has had a major impact on my life, as it has on yours, but I’ve learned that my life extends beyond the pain and darkness. Survivors of trauma are full of life, creativity, courage, and love. We are more than the sum of our parts.