Dissociative Identity Disorder is one of the most misunderstood disorders. Hollywood has portrayed the disorder as some psychotic, maniac like, “The Three Faces of Eve,” or “Sybil.” There are varying degrees of every disorder, and this applies as well to DID. In an attempt, to destigmatize the disorder, the DSM changed its’ name from Multiple Personality Disorder to Dissociative Identity Disorder. It does not appear to have done a lot to straighten out the misunderstanding of the disorder. Dissociation means to break away, disconnect or sever.
DID is a survival mechanism for those that have endured severe sexual abuse as children. A child cannot begin to comprehend what is happening to them when they are attacked by a pedophile. The child is terrorized to the point of “fight or flight” reaction. The mind steps in and helps the child escape (flight) until the attack is over. When this repeatedly happens, there is a break-off or split in the personality. Thus, an “alter” is born. Most DID patients do have a protector, and that alter can be ferocious if the child is in danger. It is very much like women who are raped, and they say, “they watched the rape from above.” They leave their bodies and many report they are up above themselves and the rapist. Thus, to dissociate, the victim goes away to a safe place until the assault is over. It is survival from a pedophile.
We all wear different masks in life. For example, someone can be a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, an artist, and an author. For each role in our lives, there is a “mask” we present to the world. Do you act differently on the job than you do at home? Are you different in your role as a mother; opposed to that of a wife? Most of us would answer, yes. This analogy can go a long way in understanding DID. It is much the same, but with more rigid boundaries between the “masks,” thus, the tag of “multiple personalities.” It is one personality, split more than one time. So, there is an alter that harbors the abuse, an alter who protects, an alter who works, an alter who is a Mom, etc. Most are harmless to the public at large. Of course, there is always the exception, where an alter can become violent if threatened.
DID is the mind’s way of preserving itself; otherwise, the child would go insane trying to protect itself.
This is just one of many disorders that are a result of being severely, sexually abused as a child. It’s quite sad when you come to realize and understand DID.
With myself, there is a small child within that has held the abuse, a child that was a member of a family, a survivor of sexual abuse, an artist, an author, etc.
I was diagnosed twenty years ago with DID. I was horrified! Because I too had the same misunderstanding of DID. When the “alters come forth” if you will—it is so subtle that most people do not even recognize it including the person with the disorder.
Some victims with DID go through “integrating therapy,” which is bringing all the alters back together into one personality. It is a lengthy and difficult process for the individual as well as, the therapist. However, with time and a good therapist it can be done. Pedophiles create DID victims.