Thursday, January 12, 2012

Treating and Healing Dissociative Identity Disorder

Contrary to popular misconceptions, people with DID/MPD (Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder) are able to perform jobs carrying responsibility, and jobs involving contribution to society in a variety of professional environments, including the arts, and public service. Of all the psychiatric disorders, DID/MPD has the best prognosis of healing. There are, however, people who are institutionalized who cannot cope with, or do not understand, their disorder, but with the right treatment recovery is possible.

What Is DID/MPD?
Rather than reiterate things we have already written, for more information on Dissociative Identity Disorder and Dissociation in this blog (with citations) read:
The D in Dissociation and also Personality vs. Dissociative Disorders’:

Or alternatively Google it, but always consider the sources of what you are reading, as with anything on the internet. We like to stick with professional and government agencies overall.]

Dissociative disorders are not caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, as is the case with mood and some personality disorders1. DID/MPD, and other dissociative disorders, are a brains apparent response to chronic trauma or abuse, such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse, in childhood;  and occasionally other traumatic events such as war, natural disasters, kidnapping and torture, as a form of coping and surviving. Not all people who have endured abused and trauma become dissociated. Once the brain has learned to dissociate as a response to abuse and trauma, it can lead to continued dissociation throughout adulthood.

Anxiety and depression may occur with dissociative disorders.

Treating DID:
Treatment for individuals with DID/MPD includes psychotherapy, although various creative therapies (such as art, dance, movement, poetry and drama), and a combination of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed if needed, in addition to therapeutic treatment that may be related to adjusting how they interact in social environments, as well psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy, counsellingl). Those dealing with dissociative disorders may benefit from psychotherapy to learn methods of coping, and to learn steps to take control of their lives, to be healthy and productive.

While psychotherapy may cause temporary anxiety and stress while a person learns about the condition and the coping skills required to manage positive and negative feeling, moods, thoughts and behaviours, it is a form of treatment that carries very few risks.
One particular form of therapy used in Dissociative Identity Disorder is Mapping Therapy (a blog post we did on mapping therapy:

Choices of Healing:
Cooperative healing is a method co-existing where all of the alter personalities become aware of each other through therapeutic means, and the psychological barriers between them are reduced, so that they can work together cooperatively to lead a healthy and productive existence together. Some indication shows that this is becoming a more popular holistic approach to healing.

[For an amazing interview, regarding cooperative healing, with Anne Pratt, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Traumatic Stress Institute who specializes in Dissociative Identity Disorder:]

Integration and Spontaneous Integration
Integration is the process, through intensive therapeutic means, of all of the alter personalities coming together. In this process all of the personalities are integrated into one melded, or integrated, personality. The integrated personality is formed with parts, or perhaps none, of all of the alter personalities.
Spontaneous Integration is when integration happens without choice. Just as the brain of the person who experienced trauma knew to separate to protect itself, it may integrate.

In Conclusion:
Dissociation Identity disorder cannot be cured with medication, though some of it's occasional symptoms can be treated with medication. People with Dissociative Identity Disorder are able to keep most of their disorder hidden from society, though often times come off as flaky, forgetful, eccentric and occasionally may appear to be a liar, due to being accused of things they do not recall doing.

People with Dissociative Identity Disorder are able to lead relatively "normal" and "healthy" lives. The ability to hide themselves well from both society and themselves is the primary function of the brain to form dissociated identities, a protective barrier between the core and alter personalities to cope, bear the pain and hide the memories of abuse, and "save" the core, and alternative personalities.

1'Personality and psychopathology' By C. Robert Cloninger 1999 p. 312
As well as several other sources cited in our other entries on this blog regarding DID/MPD.

About Our Healing and Treatment:
We have chosen cooperation as the desired route of coping.
Our therapeutic measures have extended a lifetime, always resulting in incorrect diagnoses and over-medication. As it is difficult to both find, and afford, a therapist who we can talk to regarding dissociation, we have chosen more of a self-help route after years of individual psychotherapy involving coping and learning how to manage parts of our life.
In addition, we have managed to work, albeit sometimes dangerously, through much of our mapping, and collective memory retrieval this last year, on our own (we do not recommend this).

 We are sure at some point we can benefit through some talk therapy…but many of us really hate talking, and most of us really love writing, so we have chosen creative therapy to heal, such as music (mostly listening, we are not musically inclined), art and writing. We no longer take medications (a year and a half medication free), nor do we desire to. We prefer to deal with our bouts of depression and anxiety in other ways…sometimes that means not leaving the house for awhile. We’re fine with that.
We hope you have found this entry on Cures and Healing useful.

~Frank et al
*Dissociative Identity/Multiple Personality Disorder common terminology

Personality Specific Terms
Alteralter 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.


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