My recent post concerning the episode I experienced the other morning and which I entitled “Why ‘D I D’ I Do That?” seems to have inspired quite a lot of dialogue with folk both in and out of the comments section.
As a result of this, and because it is such an important subject, I thought I would continue or open that dialogue further.
To make this work I thought that what I would do was to publish a few of the questions that I have been asked, or points that have been raised, and answer them here.
In this way I hope that I will be able to afford others the chance to offer their insight or opinions or to ask any additional questions that they may have. This can be done via the comments section and can be done anonymously if you wish. (See below)
But before I do that I do however need to address a couple of important issues concerning it…
Firstly I do not for one minute claim to be any kind of expert on DID. I have personal experience and not expertise.
Secondly I do not for one minute believe any of the questions I have been asked or points that have been raised were asked or raised disrespectfully or in an inflammatory fashion and I do believe them to be relevant and understandable points or questions.
And thirdly, anyone can contribute to this debate by simply commenting below. Should you wish to comment anonymously simply start your comment with the words ANONYMOUS COMMENT and I will publish your comment without including name or screen name and your identity will remain private unless you choose to identify yourself later as the person who made that comment. I will of course NOT be publishing comments which I deem to be inflammatory or disrespectful.
So the above having been said on with the debate and th first question I have been asked more than once…
“Doesn’t giving or allowing your ‘alters’ an individual name somehow make them real and give them an identity in their own right? And if so isn’t this unhealthy?”
My take on this is very simplistic. It all pivots on whether or not you fully grasp or accept the fact that actually they are already mentally real in their own right even if not physically real in their own right.
As I said in one of my responses to my previous blog post, when the trauma happened we knew it was happening and had no control over that or that it was happening. So we somehow needed to convince ourselves it wasn’t happening to us. This was and could only be achieved by our somehow subconsciously separating ourselves from it and that therefore meant it needed to be happening to someone else. That someone else being the ‘alter’ who appeared as a result of the fracturing or separation.
So to all intents and purposes the ‘alter’ is already real (within the mind) and already has an identity – he or she is the boy or girl (within our minds) to whom this happened for us and instead of us.
Thus the naming of the ‘alter’ or ‘alters’ is for recognition purposes only and that also affords or assists an ability to start creating a communication and from this a trust based relationship with said ‘alter’ or ‘alters’.
So actually it is healthy not unhealthy. Remember the name does not create the ‘alter’ just identifies it.
“What is to stop them from staying once they have been created and/or acknowledged?”
Again, this for me, is all down to the purpose of their being there. They were created out of a need to separate or dissociate from the trauma. They exist therefore within that dissociation, fracturing or separation and our inability to deal with it at that time.
Whilst others may have differing views, I believe that at no time can we allow them to be seen or accepted as actually being apart from the core person but instead must always see them as being part of the core person.
Since their existence stems from and is based on our inability to cope with and process that trauma, securing the ability to cope and process that trauma thus removes the need for them to continue to exist other than within the situation explained in my next answer…
“So what purpose does giving them an ‘identity’ and accepting that ‘they too have needs’ serve?”
Remember the way in which they were created and the purpose of them being created. “he or she is the boy or girl (within our minds) to whom this happened for us and instead of us.”
The mentally (albeit subconsciously) created separation meant that the ‘alter’ experienced all of the hurt and pain and suffering of the trauma for us and instead of us. They are a part of us but somehow fractured and separated and whilst the trauma should never have happened, it did happen and the fact is that it happened to us and we need therefore to accept that and process that in its entirety.
This can only truly be done by our learning about, remembering, and fully accepting for ourselves that which we have (through that initial separation or fracturing) placed upon the ‘alter’ which we mentally created.
They are a part of the core us, their needs are in fact our needs and just as we separated from the trauma through the subconscious creation of the ‘alter’ we also separated from our own needs at that time and since that time in that regard.
Learning of those needs and accepting them onto our core self and processing them and finding healing for them is therefore part of that long hard, process.
“Ok I get that but what if they don’t want to go?”
They who? The ‘alter’? The ‘alter’ who is actually only a part of the core person? See that is one of the traps here. They have a personality and identity only as a part of us, the core person, and it is important that they are always seen that way.
And as such any desire not to go or to stay is only either a) a part of the struggle within the core person to process and accept what is happening, or b) a desire on the part of the core person to keep the love and attention or freedoms that they enjoy through that ‘alter’.
“Ah see now that is what worries me. What if the ‘alter’ is only (or becomes) a way in which the core person can get the love or attention they need? Or even is (or becomes) for the core person, a chance to misbehave or be mean and get away with it?“
Well I can only answer for myself here, and let me answer each part in turn…
Firstly the “What if the ‘alter’ is only (or becomes) a way in which the core person can get the love or attention they need?” part...
It is, in my experience, very unlikely that this would be a ‘deliberate’ or even a ‘conscious’ thing.
Remember our weather house and that pivot? ‘Alters’ usually come out involuntarily to the core person and often without the full knowledge of the core. So generally this happens when the core is reminded of a need or experience or set of circumstances linked in some way to the original trauma.
And as for their coming out or triggering in order to afford the core person the love and/or attention that they need in that circumstance or situation, my answer can only be, “so what if it is? Doesn’t that in and of itself represent a very real need on the part of that core person? And indeed shouldn’t that need be addressed?”
Which brings me to the part of the question which was, “Or even is (or becomes) for the core person, a chance to misbehave or be mean and get away with it?“
I think there is with most mental illness the potential temptation sometimes to blame our mental illness for our poor behaviour. And let’s be honest here very often – but not always – it is our mental illness which is behind such things.
But we are as human as the next person and just as someone who has no recognized mental health issues can sometimes mess up or behave badly so too can we.
At the risk of having my inbox flooded with angry or offended comments just mental illness can be used as a convenient excuse for bad behaviour should we choose to do so. But you have to ask yourself what would this achieve?
With ‘DID’ there are a couple of things which need to be recognized. Generally speaking there are tell-tale signs when someone has triggered and an ‘alter’ is present. These are more easily recognised in person than on the internet granted but trust me there are ways of telling even when on the internet. Phrase patterns, commonalities of error, attitude continuities, speech or typing patterns etc.
In respect of my own ‘DID’ and indeed the ‘DID’ that one or two of my adopted kids have we have a rule and that rule is that each ‘alter’ is treated the same way we would treat any child or person and as such is expected to behave properly and is held accountable when he or she doesn’t.
This is an important approach for us as it not only affords the ‘alter’ the parity they seek but it also removes the risk of the ‘DID’ being used as either an excuse or a means to misbehave.
And there is, in my opinion, another very important consideration here…
Another aspect of the trauma is that of ‘blame’ So very often the trauma is caused by a loved one or a supposed responsible grownup or authority figure. These are people who – in the mind of the core person – are ‘trustworthy’, ‘loving’, ‘good’, often beyond reproach even.
This can often cause a tremendous confusion and conflict in the core person. If that person is ‘good’ is ‘loving’ and is doing this to me then I must be ‘bad’. I am sure you can see the logic in that, especially when the trauma in question is happening to a child.
So a possible byproduct of the trauma and indeed the separation, is that the core person or the fractured/separated ‘alter’ is self-labelled as bad. And this can require a great deal of healing.
“So why is it that ‘DID’ often effects people long after the trauma happens?”
Well firstly let’s rephrase that question to make it more accurate…
“So why is it that ‘DID’ often effects people long after the INITIAL trauma happens?”
It is a small change I accept but it really is a very important one. The mind seems to lock onto or get snagged on things that it can’t deal with doesn’t it? Things that we can’t deal with we just don’t seem to be able to let go of. Anxiety, restlessness, recurring nightmares are all testimonies to this fact.
So very often the trauma – which let’s be honest very few minds would be able to process – snags in the mind as a result of the mind not being able to process it and will therefore often be replayed over an over again.
Additionally, the ‘alter’ or ‘alters’ who come out an interact are to all intents and purposes already so hurt that the hurt which they already carry impacts what little relationships they do have and can in themselves created additional hurts.
These can sometimes take a lifetime to address, but what we need to remember I think is that for the ‘alter’ and the core person, they have already had a lifetime – their lifetime since the trauma happened – of carrying those hurts and having them influence their relationships.
I am going to close this post here. I am very much aware that it is already a very long post and I really hope all that makes sense? Sometimes it is very difficult to write clearly about something so personal and uncomfortable for you.
Again I am no expert on this subject and all I can do is talk from my own experiences.
And again I hope others with contribute and that you will feel able to ask questions or raise points or observations. And as I said this can be done anonymously if you prefer. Simply put ‘ANONYMOUS COMMENT’ at the top of your comment and I will republish it under my name and your identity can remain private unless you choice to identify yourself later as the person having made that initial comment.