Digital Abstract in red, blue and black

DID and the Arrow of Time

DID is an uneasy alliance of defense mechanisms.

For instance, Bobby and the Aversion Therapist; I know the story is true,
but I don’t remember it.

From my perspective, it never happened.

From Bobby’s perspective it never ended.

Research into Dissociative Disorders is improved since I was first diagnosed with one in 2009.

In 2015 the National Institutes of Health published research that explains
memory disruption in people with DID.

Normal memory is episodic.

The flow of consciousness across time is necessary to create an experience of the present, (“now”) in the context of a subjective past and anticipated future. Accordingly, under normal circumstances, time is experienced as continuously moving forward. However, traumatized individuals often relive their traumatic memories through flashbacks and lack the ability to live in the “now,” reflecting a key dissociative process associated with trauma-related altered states of consciousness. Such reliving events are in contrast to intrusive memory recall most frequently associated with reminder distress and not involving an altered state of consciousness or a dissociative process but rather represent a state of normal waking consciousness   Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2015

Normal memory is “Back when I was 16,” as opposed to ‘I am 16.”


“Episodic memory differs from other kinds of memory in that its operations require a self. It is the self that engages in the mental activity that is referred to as mental time travel: there can be no travel without a traveler …”  Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2015

I don’t remember things, I relive them.


“…while remembering an event, mental time travel is “partial” in that the present self voluntarily directs attention to the past self, thus maintaining awareness of the present self in the present time. In this case, the “I” is proposed to exist in the present self, which outweighs the representation of the past self in past time. In contrast, during a reliving experience, mental time travel occurs “fully,” generally not by choice, and is usually triggered by internal and/or external stimuli that bear some resemblance to a past self-state. In this case, the “I” is thought to inhabit the past self, which is thought to outweigh the presence of the present self, thus lacking a mental time traveler and the ability to voluntarily position oneself in the past or in the future.” Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2015


Art by Rob Goldstein
A Multiverse of the Mind

Maybe it’s a gift

I discussed my post about the first day of desegregation with my therapist.

It’s a short piece but was hard to write because as I wrote it, I lost most of
my vocabulary.

I told my therapist I was writing like a seven-year old.

She said it was a gift.

I shrugged.

Maybe it’s true.

Maybe telling the ugliness of mindless violence as witnessed
by a frightened child is a kind of gift.

It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse.

A writer is one who writes.

Why do I write?

Why do I give so much of my life to it?

How many poems must one write to be
a writer?

If it’s a masterwork, one.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018


19 thoughts on “DID and the Arrow of Time

  1. An interesting write, And when I worked in mental health it is surprising how many mental disorders are out there. There are many who have the Three Faces of Eve wandering the streets.. And what Children go through in their young lives has a lasting impact throughout their adulthood..
    Writing helps release and clear out the baggage we carry..

    Wishing you a great rest of the week Rob.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is very interesting, Rob. When I was a teenager I watched a movie called Sybil. It was about a girl whose mother had abused her very badly and she had 16 personalities. I have never forgotten that movie. It made a massive impact on me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sally Field did an excellent job of portraying Sybil but DID usually doesn’t present in such a dramatic way. Most people are good at hiding it, so good they can hide it from themselves. Thanks for the comment, Robbie!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know if it’s a gift, probably only you can say for sure. There is so much we don’t know, but I will say this much — your experiences remind me that perception is everything. I love the way you sort things out and make us think about sorting ourselves out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your reflections on the text excerpts gives a more human touch to them… As for “gifts” well sometimes I wonder who someone is to give that label… Poems keep coming and you keep on doing what you do xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Christy. I struggle with acceptance and there are times when I get sick of having to deal with the confusion. Being able to see and appreciate the unique perspective of DID and the way it affects my writing is a good thing.Thanks for the visit and for leaving a comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Rob. I like how you inserted your observations along with textbook information.
    Sometimes the way people use the word “gift” makes me wonder about them. It feels like the hypocrisy of someone whose wants and needs are met aplenty — telling someone else to be grateful that their basic needs of food and shelter are met.
    However, it really is a gift to know and work with you Rob.
    Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I gave enough of a context for her comment.

      I sometimes beat myself up for being sick and view my life as a curse.

      She gave me a shift in perspective.

      It’s not a gift and it’s not a curse.

      And if the reader is moved by the story it becomes a gift to that reader.


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