Portrait of a virtual reality woman who represents a female dissociative alternate named Sara

Dissociative Identity Disorder: When Shame Becomes Pride

Dissociative Identity Disorder looks like a psychosis to people who don’t understand it or who think that all people with DID act like Sybil or Norman Bates.

Yes, I hear the voices of my alternates but those voices are not hallucinations; they are more like thoughts in another person’s voice.

Each alternate has its own memories and skills.

Virtual reality avatar that depicts an adolescent alternate named Bobby who is 16.
Bobby is 16, he holds ‘faith’.

Some alternates communicate autonomously with each other while
others remain in hiding.

There are memory boundaries between alternates but over time
these boundaries became more permeable.

“Dissociative identities exist in a third reality, an inner world that is visualized, heard, felt and experienced as real. This third reality is often characterized by trance logic. In trance logic, ideas and relationships of ideas about things are not subject to the rules of normal logic. Because (the alternates) are kept in separate compartments (of the brain), contradictory beliefs and ideas can exist together; they do not have to make sense. In the way, the internal world has many alternate selves that experience themselves as separate people. There is a pseudo delusional sense of separateness and independence.”

From Trauma and Dissociation

I don’t experience the inner world of my dissociative system as vividly
as the alternates that use VR do.

I’m Rob Goldstein.

I was born as an adult and I function as an apparently normal self.

That means that I smooth things over, I look and sound like an adult…albeit one that does not know how old he is.

I look at what comes out of VR and try to understand it, but I don’t.

It’s not my job to use Second Life.

My job is processing photographs and writing political essays.

This means is I know very little about the VR members of my strange inner Family.

I don’t feel anger. I don’t experience grief.

I wonder if I am made in the image of  Star Trek’s Spock.

A Screenshot of a male and female vatar on a star trek set in Virtual Reality
Space Madness

I think in terms of logic.

A blogging friend once asked me if I feel proud of the art made by my alternates and I replied that it feels illogical for me to feel proud of work produced by other people.

If one stays with the logic of Dissociative Identity Disorder the alternates are separate people with their own special place on my brain.

I think of my brain as a busy server.

This MRI scan shows an alternate switching to another alternate
This MRI scan shows an alternate switching to another alternate


The little boy who imagined this elaborate coping mechanism was smart enough to create a good Mother.

Each time Sara takes a kid alternate into VR she comforts him and corrects some of the damage done by the real Mother.

Sara gives them what they need.

When she stands up for them she also says that they are worth fighting for.

I cannot think of a child who does not need a parent or a parent figure who
will fight for it.

The child invented a good Mother and gave her a place on his brain.

Advances in Brain Imaging 18 Fig. 2. Example of reduced regional cerebral glucose metabolism in the anterior temporo- frontal cortices in a patient with dissociative amnesia
Reduced regional cerebral glucose metabolism in anterior temporo-frontal cortices in dissociative amnesia

After seven years of intensive psychotherapy I can see that even with DID I am healthy, creative and strong enough to protect myself and survive.

Never Keep Your Head Down


Now I’m ready to thrive.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2016-2017

First posted on September 26, 2016
re-edited 3/08/2018











87 thoughts on “Dissociative Identity Disorder: When Shame Becomes Pride

  1. Thank you sharing this. You inspire me to be more candid about depression. I hid it for decades – blamed it on all knds of things. Being a good actress got me through with no stigma, except that of “being moody” and reclusive. But who knows what was lost in the process? Surely a “normal” life. I hid from people so they wouldn’t see my darkness and pushed them away when they tried to cheer me up. In my 60’s now, no people left. Even the depression’s gone (it gave up I guess). I never choose to regret, so I don’t regret the choices I made, but I do wonder if asking for help when I was young would’ve actually helped, would I have human beings around me now? No way to know. It was a different world. Anyway: your writing will – I’m certain – open eyes and hearts, and bring hope to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. When I was writing and giving readings in the 80’s people took my DID as my ‘creative process’ and maybe they were right. I do know my illness stood in the way of my ability to capitalize on my talents and skills, and to some extent it’s still an impediment; but there is another perspective; I’m where I’m supposed to be doing what I’m here to do,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank You so much for writing this! I always think of DID as the kindest and most resilient way of coping our minds/brain could do in some of the most difficult situations endured.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your visit and comment.

      I hadn’t considered DID as kind but that’s one theory of how the ‘freeze’ response
      works in nature.

      When a lion kills a wilder-beast, the wilder-beast freezes and appears to go numb.

      I recall a moment from my childhood when I realized that if I left my body during a beatingI felt no pain.

      So yes, DID is a kindness. Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sure I commented on this, Rob — and a few other blogs. The WP gremlins are getting fat eating comments. Anyway you are clearly touching hearts and lives with this post. Well done. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I’ve decided to test the waters by doing a podcast in July with Matthew Pappas who runs mental health news network. I have the illness but I’m healthier and better at managing it so now it’s time to move on to the recovery part of recovery. Thanks for the visit. Always appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I just re-read your post and saw the opening sentence and laughed. I broke my glasses and I’m using an older pair while I wait for the new ones so I miss things. I sometimes do argue with myself. 🙂


    1. If I am special it is only because I am a man of extremes. It’s possible I’d be like this without the DID, I’ll never know. I am extremely smart even when I’m doing profoundly stupid things. I’m extremely loving and sometimes passionately hateful. I place an extreme value on honesty, yet believe the obviously untrue. I’m extremely human: I’m everything everyone else is at a slightly higher temperature.
      Thanks for the visit, Paula.


    1. I thrive because of my, partner, my therapist, and my friends on Wordress. You see the things in me that I can’t see; your validation is healing, and your willingness to see beyond the stereotypes allows me to explore and express my humanity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It takes a village to keep me on track, moving forward and help solving problems brought on by depression. I accept you for who you are. I read the post on your illness so I can keep learning. I’m learning from you and who knows if I’ll need the info in future. Thanks for being so open in you post. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I learned about DID and other dissociative disorders in my Abnormal Psychology class, but never came in contact with anyone with DID. Thank you for sharing your experiences in these two recent posts.

    I do not have DID, but have experienced depersonalization and derealization in the past, and wrote about them at https://birdflight.blog/2017/03/06/depersonalization-and-derealization-and-how-i-use-grounding-techniques-to-manage-and-prevent-them/ I mention that some of my experiences were almost like psychotic experiences. I also experienced dissociative amnesia on a couple of occasions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for working through your writing and sharing it with us. It helps us understand the complexity (and what I consider creativity) of DID. I worked with abused children and teens when I practiced as a psychotherapist. Many defense mechanisms are quite creative. They may no longer function once the child is safe, but I’m amazed at what the brain or mind will do to protect the self. I wish you continued improvement as you define for yourself and your loved one(s).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kitt…This is my way of making life a little easier for people with mental illnesses and especially DID. The worst part about suffering for nothing is that it strips life of meaning. Yesterday a homeless guy asked me for some money. I smiled at him and gave him the change I had. He thanked me for seeing him. He said he’s rather be hungry than invisible. Do the people of America understand that the ‘homeless’ are on our streets because we keep
      voting to put them there?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s more like I know how awful it feels to be hungry and invisible. That’s what life feels like for a kid in a n abusive family. The United States is a dysfunctional family and the homeless are our abused children.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Try having schizophrenia where everyone treats you like a pariah. I have paranoid sz, ADHD, bipolar and OCD. I’m fucked up but I don’t show it otherwise I will alienate myself with others.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I liked Sara’s post and I get it. She is the mother bear to your many cubs. Embrace her and what she can teach you about protecting yourself. Peace to you, Robert.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’ve never been comfortable with having a part of me that identifies as female. But she is a warrior…I have a life-long friend who is a woman with DID. She didn’t tell me about it until recently. When she did all of the odd little things that I’ve noticed over the years suddenly make sense. She has a male warrior and I’ve seen him in action. It’s not so much that her behavior becomes male, it’s more that she becomes more assertive and confident in ways that might be considered male.

      I’m glad she told me, because it was good to discover that I know what this looks like on other people.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s validating. Seeing the illness in other people tells me that everyone who wants to believe that the illness doesn’t exist has an agenda that has nothing to do with easing my pain or finding the truth.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that what we do instinctively to protect ourselves is fascinating. When I stop to consider that most of the ‘system’ was in place and protective before It almost seems miraculous.


  8. Thank you so much for explaining your experience of DID so clearly. I have a better understanding than I did minutes ago. Keep educating when you feel the urge; it’s important and appreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading. I hope that the ongoing MRI studies also drives a stake through the lie that this isn’t a ‘real’ illness.

      If I can do something to help people to understand what we are doing when we let our children suffer the abuse of poverty, violence and deprivation then it will be worth it.

      What I want to see is accountability.

      I want us to understand as a culture is that when we vote against educating and feeding our children while voting to increase easy access to semi-automatic weapons we are also voting to terrorize our children.

      That is what hunger, ignorance and the daily fear of being murdered is to a child.

      It is terror. And that kind of terror will permanently damage a child’s mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Robert
    You’ve been thru hell this week. What is amazing is your ability to educate and offer help when you could feel anger. I’ve known since I meet you, You have every reason to hold your head up with pride.
    I truly appreciate the extra time to dig deeper into the world of someone with DID. Everyone is different yet no doubt people will share some symptoms and similarities.
    Have a good evening.
    You’ve worked hard this week, do something for yourself tomorrow. No matter how little, you deserve you time every week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you…it really was a week if successes and real anguish…I sometimes wonder if the anguish isn’t a kind of punishment I inflict on myself for having a success.

      I guess that’s another blog post…:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A good conversation to start with your therapist until you two can understand. There’s a root, sometimes you can’t pull it out of ground. So you learn to notice and understand when it’s happening. Understanding makes all the difference. You know that, you are very educated and educated in your illness. It takes a lot of work to get where you are. Some never reach the first level.
        I have no doubt you will work thru and understand over time.
        Email me anytime, msandorm@verizon.net.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We have slight issues from time to time with the cable show freezing, but I want everything now. Tomorrow we’ll know if I’ve totally lost it. I just posted an entire post in Arabic! A bit scary.
        Hope sunshine came in your window today.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I do not understand DID, but I do understand everything that you just wrote, and I think it gave me some insights into my own tolerance for awful people. I am glad you have Sara! I suppose I should read her post. I normally read yours, I started following this blog for you, so I skipped her without thinking about it. I skip most guest posts, so it is perhaps a habit. Let me go back and look.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. She’s part of me and I think that if you do read the others you’ll have a much better understanding of who I am as a person. The beauty of my blog is that it gives me a chance to introduce myself to people in as whole a way as I can. Thank you for following it…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think it was a mistake I made, to separate you from your alternates. I read what you write about them, but that is a limiting perspective. Perhaps I was overeager to see you as an independent person, to recognize your autonomy. Silly of me to think that autonomy requires separation. It does not. Your alternates are people beneficial to you, they have purpose in your life and are an integral part of it. I feel a bit embarrassed to have not figured that out. I should read what they write, because it is yours, too.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. This is a no shame for being human zone….

        DID is a function of the mind and our culture is dominated by a medical model that currently denies the existence of a mind.
        That makes it even harder to fully understand.

        Your reaction is normal. It is what everyone does because that is how most people are.

        My goal is to be that one guy you read.

        What happens when you read the writings of the alternates is you begin to see similarities emerge.
        You also get a better understanding of that they hold as far as my emotional life.

        To the extent that I am also a piece I’m an alternate too.

        Some people have told me that they can see some integration happening. As I finish my first real year of blogging….yes today makes one year. I just realized it.

        I think that Sara’s decision to take charge of that situation is a sign that she might also be ready to join with us. She’s been very resistant.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. You are right. The current medical model in the West denies the mind, which has some pretty far reaching consequences. I thought perhaps brain scans would change that, but I don’t see much on the news about it yet.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The fact that you don’t see it in the news is a function of stigma. I see the takeover of psychiatry by the behavioral health system as a further erosion of the public health system by the stigma attached to mental illnesses, and chronic illnesses in general, and the class bias against the poor. Obviously if you are afflicted by an illness that makes it impossible to work but does not deform your body in some easily detectable way you must be faking. Our nation quite stupidly turned the the services that are essential for maintaining the health and well being of the people over to profiteers. Once word gets out that people have minds they may want silly things like educations, adequate nutrition, and psycho-therapy. They may no longer be willing to equate being emotionally numb with wellness…they want to see each other treated like human beings again.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Yes. I am tired of every violent act being blamed on mental illness, as if being mentally ill meant one was violent. It is pervasive and the wording is always poor. I am tired of worrying about the future for my sons. I want an accepting world for them, more than I want them to be “normal”. I want acceptance, not tolerance.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. The statement to which you refer is always made in terms of true or false.

        “The mentally ill are responsible for these shootings. True or false.”

        Well neither. It is true that some of these shootings are the result of untreated mental illness because it is true that some of the more aserious forms of mental illness when left untreated sometimes results in impulsive acts of violence.

        The truth is more complex and the whole truth involves all of us to ask why we can’t address a problem as easy to solve as the problem of refusing to improve the nation wide standard for treating mental illnesses.

        It’s the old ruse of telling a truth in such a way as to make it negative and emotionally loaded rather than a statement of simple fact.

        Like the old connection between homosexuality and pedophilia. It is factual to say that some men who identify as homosexual are pedophiles. It is not factual to say that all homosexuals are pedophiles.

        It’s a fallacy of composition or a hasty generalization.

        Some people with certain kinds neurological problems that affect impulse control become violent when the disorder is untreated.

        And some people with different kinds of neurological illnesses that affect impulse control don’t become violent.

        The problem is that we should respond to the ones who do become violent because an intervention will save their lives as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I hope that reducing/removing the stigma and increasing the awareness will make it easier for my son to get help in the future. I hope he feels comfortable enough to do so. I am trying like mad to teach him how to cope..

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I think about all of the 13 and 14 year old boys who are just discovering that they are bi-sexual or gay. The ones who live in more progressive regions of the world will have lives that are far richer and less scarred. Stigma has two purposes: to protect the people who perpetuate it from their own weaknesses and to punish those who can’t hide.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I think about those kids, too. My mother came out when she was an adult. The difficulties she faced were nothing compared to how it can be for a minor. I think it is awful we have to set up organizations to provide support to children who identify different from their parents. Good we have them, sad we need them.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. What’s worse is that their parents turn them out. They end up hungry, homeless and with no where to go…

        I really don’t know how the world let’s parents who do this get away with calling themselves Christians.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I know it is not just Christians. The culture I lived in my entire adult life is worse than that on people who do not conform. This is why DV services need to be expanded to include victims of hate and financial abuse (throwing kids out of the house). They have everything set up already, it would be the perfect expansion in services.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. No it’s not just Christians — It’s more like its a political group that uses Christianity as a front.

        We pay an enormous cost for not calling this what it is.

        And we will pay a higher cost as a nation in moral capital the longer we let it continue.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I didn’t know that. I thought it was Christians who got political about religion, who were not fans of secularism. Which I thought was the whole point of the founding fathers (secularism), and so I find it puzzling, this insistence on cherry picking canonical text to force beliefs on others. Reminds me of Islam, without the divinity.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Well–fundamentalism is a state of mind. A fundamentalist Muslim holding a blade or a fundamentalist Christian deciding to shoot up a gay bar because someone on Fox News has said gays are evil. What makes our world so dangerous is that there seem to be no civilizing constraints. The only way these people can possibly believe that they are acting in the name of Christ is brainwashing.

        I have never understood why we do the quote thing with the Bible.


      15. Yeah, why bother quoting one part and neglecting another? I just read an article stating that fundamentalism is easier to embrace than to resist, because the mind is geared towards accepting ideas. Resisting a belief is harder than accepting it, apparently. So fundies have lazy brains, the article claims.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. It’s like being deciding to remain illiterate. I think that one of the problems we have as creatures is we like to be told what to do. We will live lives of utter destitution and discomfort if those lives are predictable and somehow make sense. This is why social change is so hard….this is how healthy society’s become sick and tyrannical. Consider the fact that 40 percent of the people of the United States would support a military take-over of the government.
        We really need to start paying attention–At least those of us who don’t want to live in a tyrannical theocracy.

        Liked by 1 person

      17. I think a certain obedience to codes of conduct that promote civilized discourse and the healthy compromise is a good thing. What we have now is a kind of anarchy in which each person behaves as if he or she is the alpha and omega of life. I think what stands out for me about fundamentalism in the United States is the amount of ego it takes to anoint oneself ‘chosen’ and therefore entitled to set limits on the lives of other people.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. Yes, I was thinking of the generation currently in school, rather than the policy makers. Sometimes I have had hopes that social media will positively impact the sense of connected community among youth, enabling them to see more clearly how their actions affect others, since nothing is hidden any longer.
        Many who have apostasized are firmly convinced that the rise of social media and the availability of information nowadays has contributed greatly to their numbers. Perhaps things are changing, and that is why the behaviour of the fundies has become so rabid. They might be cornered. I hope so.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. It’s really hard to stay ignorant when everything is instantly fact checked.

        The problem these radicals face is that their delusional system is under threat by a social reality that they wrongly identify as the enemy.

        These are the brainwashed who were told for decades that their prejudices and ill informed world view was the heart and soul of America.

        Well the heart and soul of America is all of her people.

        The citizens of the United States are granted certain rights under our Constitution.

        What this means is that one cannot serve as a government official and discriminate against a class of constitutionally recognized citizens.

        Getting married for gays is about much more than the right to marry–it is also a legal acknowledgement that we are protected as citizens by the Constitution of the United States.

        The fundies will either understand that they’ve been used and that everything they’ve been told was a lie, and it was….

        Or they can respond by trying to impose their will on the rest of us.

        I wonder if people understand that our democracy is under serious threat from within…

        Liked by 1 person

      20. Thank you for stating what for me is obvious, but for others is too complex and nuanced. Addressing the negative effects of untreated mental illness does NOT have to perpetuate stigma. Instead, it ought to increase and improve compassion, outreach, policy, and treatment. Our legal system acknowledges psychiatric illness as a defense if it undermines the individual’s ability to know right from wrong in that instance. I’ve regretted my own violent behavior fueled by my symptoms of bipolar disorder. I also have more insight than many, have sought and accepted treatment, and have access to treatment and a support network. I know that I’m privileged and higher functioning than most. Still, my illness affects me and those around me. I acknowledge that.

        Liked by 1 person

      21. I agree with you. There is a left wing stigma and a right wing stigma.

        On the left mental illness is a ‘civil rights issue’ and people ‘should’ have a right to refuse treatment. This is a complete denial of mental illness as a medical issues that affects the brain. On the right we have the moral judgement that mental illness is moral failing and a choice.

        Neither of the views are correct, neither of them does a thing to help the mentally ill and both of them combined have compromised our ability to treat mental illness as an illness.

        The stigma has more to do with imposing of a political construction that has nothing to do with the reality of mental illness.

        There should be no shame in seeking treatment and there should certainly be no shame in receiving mandated treatment.

        Thank God the laws regarding commitment were looser when I was at my worst; I would not be alive if I had not once been forced into treatment.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I haven’t followed what went on with Sara. I get the gist from this. I’ve been saying over in my blog that unless someone actually experiences chronic sleep deprivation that they can’t “get” it. You can understand it intellectually, hear the words, know that it is a type of torture, etc. but you can’t really KNOW it. I feel that way about what I read here. I don’t have DID. I have other stuff going on but nothing like DID. I’m interested because I find your posts in your blog compelling. You make me think. I wish I understood better, but I think that would mean that I’d have to experience it…and I don’t want to.

    I think you are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you want to have DID experience set an alarm and then turn on a movie that completely fascinates you, that is so absorbing that while you’re watching it you begin to feel as if you are in the world of the movie. You’ll forget the alarm and when it goes off the sound will cause a reaction similar to a switch. You might even forget a portion of the movie. Or you can imagine a family of 14 trying to live peacefully in a bathtub.

      And one last thing. I don’t completely understand it either.

      Liked by 2 people

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