Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Lives In Your Head? Mapping Therapy and DID/MPD.

Obviously we write a lot about Dissociative Identity Disorder here. [formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the manual used by the American Psyciatric Association]. Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder is not a a personality disorder, such as antisocial, avoidant, borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive and/or schizotypal type of disorders are classified; DID/MPD is a dissociative disorder (for more on that read a previous entry we wrote: 'The D in DID: Dissociation' which is grouped with other disorders such as depersonalization disorder, dissociative fugu and dissociative amnesia. It often gets confused with personality disorders, most commonly, amoung them, Borderline Personality Disorder.

We write about MPD/DID because we "suffer" from this "disability". Obviously if this is not your first time here, and you've read the header of this blog, you know'd be surprised how many people don't read it.

So. You might be asking, why the quotations on those words? In ours, and other people's, opinion using words like "suffer", "disability", and others such as "survivor", indicates a weakness.

DID/MPD is not a weakness. People with MDP/DID lead relatively normal lives, it does not mean they are disabled; they date, they get married, they have jobs, they have children and grandchildren. It's a disorder that is easily masked to strangers and family members; even to the alters themselves.

However many times, in order to be successful at living a "normal" life, some sort of therapy is needed (though generally a person with the disorder has already seen 7-8 years of therapy and undergone several mis-diagnoses, like us, before they reach the diagnoses of MPD/DID1); and the drive to not be labeled a "victim" and let negative alters keep them down, as also essential to living "normal". Yes, there may be some suffering without help, without support from friends, family and loved ones...and it varies from peoples to peoples, but that doesn't mean they have to "suffer from the disorder" from what we can tell, pain and suffering happens to everyone, and it's probably the most "normal" part of the disorder.

Having said that, without the proper mental health professional to guide them, or the will to work with themselves, in the event there is no therapist/psychotherapist who deals with the disorder, such as in our case, it can be a terribly destructive disorder for the people experiencing it, and sometimes for the people in their lives. Sometimes it can lead to self-harm, depression...even suicide.

One of the therapies used for DID/MPD is called mapping, and is not hard to work on independent of a therapist. Mapping is a technique used to learn about an individual's internal personality system. The client is asked to draw a map or diagram of his or her personality states. As therapy progresses, the client is asked to update the map. Also known as personality mapping or system mapping. [source:]

You (assuming you are a singular, and not a plural) probably don't wake up in the morning wondering "Who am I" (though, to be fair here, we don't usually do that either, unless questioned); you likely go through the day doing things you do the same every day, probably rarely looking back at the them, having vague memories (or sometimes no memory) of events and actions and think..."Why did I do that?", "What the hell is my problem"...or maybe you do (HaHa!).
Your thoughts and feelings likely match, and you have a lot of control over them one way or another (i.e. letting them, or not letting them, visibly match on the outside), your opinion on a subject doesn't vary wildly from one day, one minute, to another, as far as outsiders can tell at least. It's probably safe to say your thoughts and opinions are fairly congruent.

Side note: This description is not to be confused with people who have a "public" them and a "private" them, which people like to joke about by misusing the term "multiple personalities" and the "their other personality" to describe, lets say...being a sluttier. meaner, etc. version of their self. [P.S. It's also disrespectful, one lying about having any other health issue would piss any rational person off. Imagine you make jokes about having cancer when you don't actually have it? While most of the time it makes us roll our eyes when we see those (MPD) jokes, on occasion it pisses one of us off, when he happens to be around he'll be confrontational about it, though usually we send him to write, if we can maintain control. For example:]

Holy crap, veer off track much? Goodness.

So, back to the mapping.

Mapping, as well as the writing of this blog, is what we do for therapy. The purpose of mapping is to attain a general sense of our Others (Alters), I am sure some of us have written about it a time or two, added little bits at the end of a post on occasion and mentioned we have a whole other blog dedicated to it - though it's been on hiatus for some time now, because of the many changes in our life. is where we use words and pictures to communicate to each other who we are, in addition to this blog. (Why we do it publicly at all? To help others who live with similar disorders, and people who have a loved one dealing with these things; which we have, and we know this because of e-mails and Twitter DM's of thanks). When you have a system that disagrees on many things, it's nice to map, and write, and figure out who is who.

We started this blog a year and a half ago, out of a need to write, it took a long time to start writing what we needed to, nearly 5 or 6 months, though the one of us that is no longer part of us (The Other Girl, our core*) wrote a journal on a separate page of this website, she did not want to face, fully, all that was happening; mostly we used the entries in the early days, as we do now, as a line of communication, because we were wildly confused; we're a bit better now. Part of the writing therapy was to write about our past abuse, the goal was to process it so we could lead to a sort of "healing".

Now that we've used writing therapy to write about the multiple abuses we can collectively recall (though there is some questions remaining about Bethany's memories, and other missing pieces) from our past, we realize that taking this endeavor unassisted, writing about our past, could have been potentially dangerous. And so we want to make sure to convey to others who may be attempting this, that it should be monitored by at least one person who knows what is going on. In the time it took to come to terms with us, and write about the abuse, we got to a severely low weight (by some standards, though we do have some food related issues), we were not eating or drinking much of anything, we were barely holding on during the work week, and crying and screaming all the time (even AT work sometimes), we were just a fucking mess. Thankfully we had Fabulous Person, our only real life friend remaining (aside from occasional correspondences with Fuck Face). Fabulous Person (and her daughter) were there for us when one of us would call, scared, crying, sometimes yelling, screaming and ranting, and to ask to be put on "suicide watch" by her. We trusted her, as we do today...but that's more of the story for the final chapter(s) of what we started writing at the start of the year, our life, complete (as it can be). It wasn't all bad. Emmie managed to get us involved in some crazy shit last Spring...stuff that makes some of us blush, and others wish her ass wasn't our own so we could kick it.

The point is, getting back to that, because yeah, we have a point; mapping therapy is a legitimate form of therapy for people dealing with DID/MPD. It's a fluid journey that is not always constant, but we recommend it for people living with the disorder because it leads to strength and understanding, and if you so choose...integration (not the route we want to take, and not the route James, The Boyfriend, wants us to take). Today we woke up and we know we are 10. Earlier this year we woke up and Frank only knew herself, and two others. It's not uncommon, the fluidity, it is growth. It's also not easy. But it's a journey we never want to take back, that we wish for others like us, and now that we know the mapping, we can uncover the fragments in our system, if there are any, and work together as a team.

Huh. That wasn't supposed to sounds quite so uplifting.


~ Frank et al (minus Frank) or as we like to call a blending of us: Frankie------------------------Interesting Resources:

We recommend reading here, another blogger writes about mapping therapy:, though Holly has since left, her new blog can be found here:
PODS (Partners of Dissociative Survivors): (September 2011 - some interesting information on 'What’s it like? — Alters/Parts', we skimmed it, mostly because we've written a few times on the subject here, as requested by readers/friends: and
*Dissociative Identity/Multiple Personality Disorder common terminology

Personality Specific Terms
Alter: alter states, selves, parts (a subjective term); distinct personalities; fragments alternate personality, personality state, or identity with its own unique perspectives, abilities, memories or other traits that differ from the Host or Executive personality.
The Core: The original birth personality.
Host: is the alter personality who dominates the control of the body most of the time and is often unaware of the other personalities. The host is usually the alter personality who will initiate after experiencing symptoms of mental distress, such as, anxiety, triggers or recovered memories.
Executive: When a personality (alter ego) has control of the body.
Switch: To switch from one personality to another. The process of an alter coming out from the subconscious mind into the consciousness mind while the other alter (who was already in the consciousness mind) slips back into the subconscious mind.
Who's out? A common question used to determine which personality is executive or host.
Co-conscious(ness): A state of being aware of what the other personalities are doing and saying.

Other Common Terms:
Acquired: Anything that is not present at birth but develops some time later. In medicine, the word "acquired" implies "new" or "added." An acquired condition is "new" in the sense that it is not genetic (inherited) and "added" in the sense that was not present at birth.
Triggers: Hysterical conversion symptoms or body memories. Physical phenomenon such as pain, smells, tastes, etc.; re-experienced again.
Dissociation: In psychology and psychiatry, a perceived detachment of the mind from the emotional state or even from the body. Dissociation is characterized by a sense of the world as a dreamlike or unreal place and may be accompanied by poor memory of the specific events, which in severe form is known as dissociative amnesia.
Re-live: A total memory recall (includes visual, emotional, physical and all other senses).
Losing time: Also known as a Dissociative Fugue, is the period of which an alter personality is in the subconscious mind and has no recollection of the time that is being utilized by the alter personality who is occupying the conscious mind. Therefore when the alter switches into the conscious mind they realize that minutes, hours, days, or even months and years have passed since they were last aware of time.
System: is the structure of relationships between the alter personalities who live within the internal world of a survivor with D.I.D. Every system is created and operates in it's own unique way, just like every family living in their own homes run their households different from the next door neighbour.
Inner (Self) Helper: is usually the alter personality who has a good understanding of the system and how it works. The I.S.H. is also among the typical group of helpers or protector personalities.
Grounding: is the process of disrupting a dissociative episode and is accomplished by tugging on an earlobe, rubbing the hands together, or shuffling the feet back and forth. This type of physical stimuli can bring the survivors mind back to awareness of their surroundings, and helps to make them feel less animated.

Other Sources:
Literature Review of Effective Treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder - Matt Lucariello, B.A., Rider University
Yeah, it's WebMD...we used it to locate the number of years before getting anaccurate diagnoses of MPD. People should always be cautious with things like WebMD and Wikipedia

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