An illustration staged in Virtual Reality of a battered little boy surrounded by adult selves

Coping with DID: The Struggle for Unity

If you live long enough you will discover that you are the person you are looking for.

When my adult alternates used Virtual Reality as a social network the other members called them ‘The Family’.

Of course, they did this even as they discussed my DID behind my back as a
fake; albeit a convincing fake.

a photograph staged in virtual relity of a battered little boy sitting alone with phantom alternates in the back ground
Coping with DID – Making the Family

Making The Family

According to the theory of the Trauma-Related Structural Dissociation of the Personality, a child with DID does not develop an integrated sense of self, thus when children with Dissociative Identity Disorder become adults, they are a fragmented ‘self-state’ of traumatized ‘emotional selves’.

The ‘Self-State’ creates an ‘Apparently Normal Self‘ to interact with other

The ‘apparently normal self’, or ‘host’ alternate may have no clear memory of childhood, the trauma, or the family of birth.  The ‘host’ compensates for the system’s deficits and attempts to complete the process of integration, but the ‘self state’ has no clear sense of time or reality:

Photograph staged in Virtual Reality of an avatar wearing a blind fold
The ‘apparently normal self’, or ‘host’ alternate may have no clear memory of childhood, the trauma, or the family of birth.


…The ability to differentiate fantasy from reality is critical in achieving the integrative mode of consciousness. “Trance-logic” (i.e., the tolerance and/or rationalization of logical inconsistency while in a hypnotic state) which is a core aspect of the cognition of DID patients (Loewenstein, 1993), allows the patient to adjust to “normal” daily life while maintaining beliefs which are not only inconsistent with external reality but may be contradictory among themselves…”

‘Dissociation allows the existence of several different (subjective) versions of reality within one person. Thus Kluft (1993) once called DID “multiple reality disorder” (and not multiple personality disorder) and referred to “alternating reality states.” Somewhat similarly, Chefetz (2004) refers to identity alteration in DID as “isolated subjectivities.” Paradoxically, distinct or “alter” personality states are not disintegrated structures only but they also represent a striving of re-establishment of the lost unity (Şar and Öztürk, 2005).

Frontiers in Psychology


The Cycle of Repetition

If the ‘host’ fails to integrate, the ‘self-system’ or ‘emotional personalities’
replace it with a new host.

An illustration staged in virtual reality of a battered little boy with two male adults moving to protect him
The new host must survive the social environment and compensate for the lost time and the ‘failure’ of the previous alternate

The new host must survive the social environment and compensate for
lost time and the ‘failure’ of the previous alternate.

This leads to overwork, perfectionism, exhaustion, hyperactivity and system collapse which results in a new alternate and a new a cycle of mal-adaptive behaviors and relationships and another failure to integrate.

When I was in my early 20’s I moved on impulse from New Haven to Honolulu.

I still don’t know why.

On day I woke up on a beach in Hawaii.

I looked for a psychiatrist and a job.

The shrink gave me a diagnosis of bi-polar illness, depression and
prescribed Elavil.

I found an excellent job with one of the local hospitals.

One day I woke up and discovered I left the job because I’d met
a hot sailor with whom I’d gone to live on the beach.

So, I was again on the beach without a clue.

The shrink changed the diagnosis to bi-polar illness, manic
episode and added Lithium to the Elavil.

I found another good job and a nice high-rise apartment with
a view of Diamond Head.

One day while swimming at the local beach, I heard a voice:

Voice: “I need to go to the hospital.”

Me: (frustrated) Why?

Voice: (pleading) I’m scared.

Me: (Angry) We’re doing great! What’s wrong with you?

Voice: (pleading) I’m scared.

Within a few weeks, I was out of work and in lock-down on
the local psych unit.

I told my shrink about my argument with the voice and he
added the anti-psychotic, Haldol to the Lithium and Elavil.

I decided not to tell him about the writing I’d found;

“I think I am murdered and feel ashamed.

I hide under my blankets and feel ashamed.

I reach for a faceless cock and feel ashamed.

I feel ashamed and I feel ashamed.”


I didn’t know the voice belonged to a teenage alternate named Bobby and that ‘going to the hospital’ was how a young Bobby escaped his family.

I didn’t know that being in the hospital was the only time Bobby felt safe.

Protrait of an avatar used by my alternate bobby
I didn’t know the voice belonged to a teenage alternate named Bobby

The Self-State of “Emotional selves” hold the emotions, thoughts, fantasies, wishes, needs, and sensations the ‘host’ considers unbearable and unacceptable.

Dissociation & Complex Trauma

In 1985, ‘Bobby’ wrote about his first hospitalization .

Despite the hospital’s intention to use ‘Aversion Therapy’ to cure
Bobby of his ‘homosexuality, for Bobby it was the first he felt safe
to assert himself.

Bobby doesn’t write about that feeling of safety because he doesn’t
remember it.

Bobby and the Aversion Therapist

Art by Rob Goldstein
Bobby and the Inner Shrink

Studies of children with DID show that alternates in children are more
alike and have less amnesia barriers between them.

An illustration staged in Virtual Reality of a battered little boy surrounded by adult selves
The new host must survive the social

Alternate personalities strengthen and become more individual over the life cycle.

Severe trauma in adulthood worsens the prognosis for people with DID.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018


Living in a Cooperative Self System

Dissociation & Complex Trauma

Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD) and DDNOS

Disavowing and Re-Claiming the Self-Identity in the Aftermath of Trauma-Generated Dissociation





23 thoughts on “Coping with DID: The Struggle for Unity

  1. I loved reading this, you have a unique writing style…
    It’s not easy to open up like this… I need some kind of closure cause sometimes I feel like all the voices in my head just might drive me crazy on day..
    Nevertheless, you’re awesome

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have had few memory lapses that I’m aware of, one night too many martinis, a near miss with some semis, once in the shock of extreme pain, a few fever deliriums… I cannot imagine how fearful I’d be to ‘awaken’ like that any more often. Or to be, maybe the thing is, to awaken alone, unsure, lost with no one to fill gaps. You’ve no choice, but your courage is still admirable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “…a near miss with some semis, once in the shock of extreme pain, a few fever deliriums…”

      Those traumas induce a normal dissociative response. An integrated mind eventually incorporates the trauma into the self. If you cast your mind back, you may a recall a jolt of fear or panic followed by numbing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rob, you know your “technical posts” (as I call them) fascinate me. This one is perfectly presented. Definitely a keeper if you ever do the “companion text” book idea we tossed around. The scissors in the images were an excellent way to subtly add to understanding the post.
    (Is there a teddy bear alternate, or does it belong to the Kid?)

    I’m sorry your current doctor didn’t give you a more positive prognosis. Just remember that, just because they think so, doesn’t mean you can’t have more healing than they expect…
    Again, a beautifully done post, my friend. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Teagan. Your previous comment helped to shape this post. The one thing all writers need is a friend or two with a good critical eye. I shaped this as a technical post and like the result. A VR artist named AM Radio designed that teddy bear. The scissors are symbolic of one of the more frightening childhood traumas.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Holy Hannah (about the scissors). Well, they also work to connect the images and to show the things that are “cut out” from memory, real life, and even the lives of the alternates. I thought that was your intention. I’m sorry they are about something worse.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I often have no clue regarding the emotional impact of certain comments on my readers. I have no sense of connection to the scissors because in my part of this brain it happened to someone else, perhaps to the part of this brain that made the pictures. The whole point of DID is not feeling: my apologies to people who have a normal response to descriptions of horrific events. This emotional numbing is a symptom of dissociative disorders in general.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No need to apologize to me, Rob. Besides, I feel the honesty is an important part of your posts. My reaction was at least in part to how far off I was. I got that one completely wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a recent discussion with my Doctor and the truth is, for me this is never going away. The only way I can live with it is to use it to help people who might have a chance to heal.

      Pain becomes hope when we use it to empower others.

      Thank you for your visit and your comment, Mary.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. After reading your posts, I always wish I could find you and give you a hug. What a wonderful gift you give…telling others about your life and your struggles. If you can help just one person come to an understanding, then you have left your mark.
    You know I adore you, right?

    Liked by 3 people

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