For First Time Visitors

If you are a first time visitor to this blog, I invite you to start from the beginning, especially if you are unfamiliar with the potential emotional impact of long-term child abuse.

Trigger caution to unhealed survivors!

Understanding the Incomprehensible

Children of incest or long-term sexual abuse grow up to be wounded adults with complicated emotional issues. Unfortunately, some symptoms are misinterpreted or often dismissed as "crazy", only serving to maintain a tormented victim status. We, as a society, have the power to change this dynamic. Each of us can make a difference.

Oct 20, 2008

DID etiquette

People WITH DID are not people who ARE DID. They are not their diagnosis. It would be paramount to speaking of a person fighting cancer as "she is cancer". I'm more aware of that language since my therapist training. It's okay for a survivor to say "I am DID" because that's where they are in their healing. The rest of the world should be viewing the person first. DID does not define the person. A survivor has a core personality and all of her is working toward becoming the person she was always meant to be without all the internal conflict. A gentle soul born into the world is going to be gentle soul. And since DID generally begins with abuse as an infant or toddler, that personality never had a chance to blossom. Healing is about that beautiful blooming.

If a person subjected to horrendous abuse was going to become a "bad person", it would have been evident long before amnesia began to leak. If a child or a dissociated self-state of an adult was made to commit an undesirable act, it is not the will of the conscious person and, in fact, is unknown by the conscious person. However, if the dissociated self is arrested in the act of doing something at the command of a perpetrator, the DID is not an excuse. Unfortunately, that would be crazy making to the conscious self who honestly is clueless. Hence, the reason this underworld uses people in dissociated states to do their dirty work. Not only would the dissociated person be prosecuted, that person has no conscious knowledge of who the bad guys really are.

"We are a multiple" is correct. Or "I am a multiple" is correct. I've stated before that many theoretical views of personality reflect people as multiple. Years ago (in the 1970s) there was I'm Okay, You're Okay which presented the personality as Parent, Adult, and Child ego states. Ego state therapy (which is different than I'm Okay, You're Okay)views personality as an internal family. Early in the blog I presented the different roles any individual has in life, shifting from one to the other as needed. All the roles define who you are--not any single role. The difference for people with substantially healthy childhoods is there is no amnesia or repression of trauma influencing behaviors or change in roles.

A very high percentage of people, at least in the US, have anxiety and issues with panic attacks. Anxiety is socially acceptable. People tend to understand panic attacks. "What can I do to help?" "Let's get you to a quieter area." "Sit down here and I'll get you a glass of water." But have a startle scream or other PTSD reaction and it's faking or overly dramatic. I recall being in a large store in my early years of healing. I was in an aisle holding a large poster board which was for a collage. It was almost as big as me. So it was awkward to hold. A man walking down the aisle bumped into poster board from behind. You could have heard the startle scream in every corner of that store. The man sarcastically said, "Well, THAT was an overreaction." Well f*** you! Really. How about "I'm sorry I frightened you. I didn't mean to." That would have sufficed.

The most bizarre aspect of DID is the switching. Rarely do multiples noticeably switch in public unless there is a huge trigger. I try to remind people that the movie Sybil was her whole healing life crammed into two hours so she was always switching. I used to be so offended when someone with DID appeared on television and allowed other selves to come forward like it was entertainment. Yet, in my work as advocate for a client to get her help, it was necessary for "helpers" to see the active child who typically needed the aid. Her being able to come out and meet someone and willingly go back inside to allow the adult to remain in charge was a huge success in her therapy. But it was viewed as a "sideshow" of sorts.

Within the past few days, I had a horrid experience online. Someone asked about the new television show My Own Worst Enemy. I responded as someone with knowledge of DID and commented it was not an accurate depiction except for one personality's realization that another part of him had been "out" and active. The person who asked the question immediately cut off communication. When I posed the question to others who had witnessed the exchange about the fear factor, the response I received was that people believe those of us abused for so long must be offenders! OMG. I never knew that to be an issue.

Dear World, if a person is actively working on healing, they are a very wounded and typically withdrawn person. If the person were an offender, they'd never show up in a therapist's office or be openly speaking of the issues. This is also a huge fear on the part of most women who have had children about having harmed their children in an alter state. While that is a possibility, that would only be true if the child had injuries that the parent did not recall inflicting (in which case the children should not be in the person's care). In my personal experience, the women with children had a very strong mom part...lioness protecting her cubs. Yet the guilt was there just in case.

Knowledge is important to change the worldview of DID and its complexities. Being fearful because someone has been horrifically abused is just fear based on misinformation. A very sad commentary on society if that is the case.

1 comment:

Nattie of the Clowder said...

I think someone would get in trouble if they called us "a person with DID", especially if one of the aggressive hosts or their respective "pets" were present right then and there. Some of us are about ready to snap from friends and relatives addressing us as if we hadn't already explained our multiplicity to them. We've explained that we have one shell alter who keeps our non-abusive memories available in the body, and an average of 5 normal hosts changing shifts a mandated minimum of twice a week (for mental health purposes). Only once have we been asked anything as sensible as, "To whom am I speaking?" I don't know, maybe we should feel flattered that our ability to portray a seamless composite character has worked so well no one can tell us apart, but the fact that no one WANTS to tell who we are implies that the fictional composite we portray, or the hypothetical composite we could become if we all integrated, is more important than any of the PEOPLE we are right now in real life. It feels the same as when someone assassinates their existent developing baby because their Real child, who has yet to exist, would have a different sex or a different mother or a different birth year. Some of us have spent our whole lives not being real enough, not being human enough, not being relevant enough. So maybe if we just disappear into each other's minds, become somebody completely different, a Frankenstein monster of companions, siblings, and lovers all melted into the same soul, then maybe we'll matter. Maybe we'll finally be Healed and Un-Crazy and A Person. Maybe all our individual moral and intellectual agency up to that point will simply be blips in The Healing Journey.

It's that dissonance between how the world sees "me" and how we see ourselves that makes us bitter and argumentative about the subject of cores. Some say cores are a myth; others say they must be random alters programmed to be red herrings for future therapists; still others say we might have a core of our own, but we can't just let her pop out of hiding one day and start cannibalizing us for neurons. I guess as a therapist and a dissociative host, you would know the truth about them. But I'm not even sure if we would want to know at this point.

I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to type a rant (although someone else would have if I hadn't), it's just that this is an ongoing sore spot for many of us.