So what is Dissociative Identity Disorder?
Dissociative Identity Disorder, or D.I.D, was formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder. The name was changed in the early 90s to Dissociative Identity Disorder after research done by specialists was able to determine that it is a Dissociative disorder and not a Personality disorder. A person with D.I.D. will dissociate in order to remove themselves from trauma, abuse and generally stressful situations. Different personality states are formed within the dissociation which help the person cope with these traumas.
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which can be downloaded here categorises Dissociative Identity Disorder by a "disruption of and/or discontinuity in the normal integration of consciousness, memory, identity, emotion, perception, body representation, motor control, and behaviour... Dissociative identity disorder is characterised by a) the presence of two or more distinct personality states or an experience of possession and b) recurrent episodes of amnesia" (Page 291 of the DSM-5)
The disorder is formed in childhood, under the age of 7-9 years, before the child's mind has fully coalesced into a single, cohesive identity. It is only formed through repeated abuse and/or trauma. Adults without the disorder can still dissociate as a means of escaping traumatic situations, however their minds will remain whole and intact. In actual fact, every single person on the planet dissociates from time to time, and not always as a means of escape. You may have heard of Highway Fugue: driving to a place you have driven to a hundred times or more and your mind wanders, and when you arrive you struggle to actually remember the journey, but you know you were safe and alert. That is a normal form of dissociation. For the dissociation to be classed as a disorder, it needs to be so bad that it disrupts the person's way of life in extreme ways.
For those children who's personality fragmented into Parts, or Alters, life becomes extra complicated. Normally, D.I.D. isn't picked up until the child is older; teens or even in adulthood. In our case, we were not diagnosed with D.I.D. until we were 41. Ours was a covert D.I.D, meaning, the Alters kept their presence from our original Host all those years, and all the former Host/Core, Linda, had was a set of disjointed memories and huge amounts of amnesia.
In another post later I will go through the different types of Alters and their roles within a D.I.D. System, but for now it's just important to know that D.I.D. is not fun to live with. It is a result of trauma and/or abuse. It disrupts our lives in every way possible. We do not have super powers. We are not evil. We do not enjoy the harsh reality of living with this disorder from day to day. This disorder is not a fad or fashion. It is not glamorous and is not something we can "put on" to avoid responsibility.
However, that said, there is no reason why a person with D.I.D. can't live a happy, fulfilling life as a Multiple or even, should they desire, work towards total healing to become a whole person. This is my desire... to live a happy and fulfilling life with the disorder and work towards becoming whole.
Stay tuned for the next post about Alter roles within a System.