For most dissociative people understanding what dissociation is, is difficult, as we tend to dissociate when we try to make sense of it. It’s only in the later stages of recovery that we start to understand that our perception of the world is not normal. In our practice we often hear ‘I can hear the birds’ or ‘I can see how blue the sky really is’ which wasn’t experienced before as there was just too much going on in their heads. For some Survivors just understanding that they do dissociate is enough, others need to make sense of what dissociation is and when it becomes ‘disordered. ’ If you need to 'make sense' of dissociation, these pages were written for you and we’d be delighted to hear your feedback.
As Integrates at Ietal we remember our experiences of the mental health system in the 1990’s when Dissociative Identity Disorder was rarely acknowledged or diagnosed. We remember how powerless we felt when we said there ‘was more than one of me’ and were told we ‘only thought there was.’ Katia says….
“The most powerful realisation led to my self-Diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder or MPD (as DID was known back then). Having been told Child sexual Abuse was ‘rare’ and ‘couldn’t be recovered from’ and that Multiple Personality disorder or MPD as it was known then didn’t exist for the umpteenth time I understood I was just as alone dealing with the legacy of child abuse as I had been when it was happening. Any naïve expectation I had of ‘help’ evaporated. I sat opposite my psychiatrist thinking ‘if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it’s a duck and if mental health want to pretend it’s not a duck that’s their madness, not mine.’ If Survivors were so ‘rare’ how come I knew so many? It was obvious to me that I and other Survivors coming to my healing practice were Multiple. If there really was no recovery from the effects of Child Sexual Abuse- were we all ‘condemned’….for ever? I couldn’t accept that people abused as children were sentenced to be defined by it from then on regardless of what they did in their lives. I read “Strong at the Broken Places” by Linder T Stanford, in the first chapter a woman refutes this pointing out “good people come from bad families” and “we are everywhere” which was so powerful I took the permission to self-diagnose MPD. Accepting the reality of my mental health condition was immensely self-empowering, I didn’t know if I could get ‘sane’ but it was clear if I didn’t take control nothing would change. I’d always been told what I thought and how I felt so thinking something so contrary to ‘professional’ opinion felt ‘bad’ but denying my alters felt even worse. I didn’t overcome my fear of being ‘found out’ as a ‘fraud’ or being ‘locked up in a mental institution’ until I Integrated so I never disclosed my self-diagnosis of MPD while still many. Back then there were almost no books about MPD and nothing about how to treat it but I’d studied psychological theory to try and make sense of my ‘madness’ and continued to do so building up a picture of the mechanics of MPD/DID which we used to manage our recovery and develop Thrive Therapy.
People coming to us continue to have a wealth of diagnoses and often only a vague idea of what’s going on for them. Most dissociates and all multiples are extremely intellegent. They suffered extreme disempowerment as children but somehow the clever little child they were found their way to become dissociative to survive. Empowering the clever adults they have become to help themselves recover by understanding their condition is highly empowering and in my opinion, crucial for recovery. Therapy should never be experienced as ‘being done to’ clients, as Integrates we know a lot about being multiple, recovery, integration and helping others get well but we are not experts in the individual or system….. they are, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to recovery, Thrive therapy is reinvented for every individual, every system and every alter. ”
On these pages we explore the psychological aspects of the spectrum of dissociation from mild to Dissociative Identity Disorder and how it develops….
Starting with dissociation we explore the mechanics of dissociation and the spectrum of dissociative disorders.
Next we explain trauma bonding, the essential building block for dissociative disorders.