VR photograph of two male avatars, one who stands in front of a mirror and the other who is emerging from it

Coping with DID: A Real Victory

Knowing and Not Knowing

The German philosopher Hegel defined dialectic as the process of thought by which apparent contradictions (which he termed thesis and antithesis) are
part of a higher truth.

I use fact and my intellect to compensate for the dialectic of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

This body is not female.

This body is not sixteen.

Sara and Bobby are defense mechanisms activated by things that happened when we had the brain of a toddler.

The higher truth: they are part of the same mind.

I know these facts even as my mind suspends disbelief and enters VR to ‘become’ a teenage boy who just wants to play on his Sim-board.

A digital photograph made in virtual reality of a young male avatar flying a simboard
Bobby Flying his sim-board in 2013

“The goal of treatment for DID is integrated functioning, with eventual merger or fusion of the alternate personalities or at least a maximal level of cooperative and integrated functioning. Effective therapy focuses on the alternate personality system as a whole rather than on specific alternate personalities. The therapist must emphasize the adaptive role and validity of all personalities and encourage the patient to find adaptive ways to accommodate the wishes and needs of all personalities…”

The Rational Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder

In 2012 my self-system dismantled my internal world and reconstructed it in virtual reality.

The adult ‘me’ disintegrated’ as my alternates discovered  ‘embodiment’ in virtual reality.

When I was diagnosed in 2012 I believed my alternates were separate people.

One of my alternates had a virtual engagement to a virtual woman to get virtually married.

He opened a virtual business and lost real money.

My alternates were not collaborating or sharing memories.

…Some alternate identities may insist that they do not inhabit the same body or that suicide or self-injury would have no effect on them; they may even think they can kill off the “others.” This is an extreme form of dissociative denial, sometimes called delusional separateness.

It may take many sessions to erode this delusion of separateness, because this belief may hold back painful, powerful cognitions, affects, conflicts, and memory material.

from Guidelines for Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder in Adults, Third Revision

I was an extreme case

Mateo thought he could be ‘himself’ full time in VR.

Mateo was willing to destroy us.

Bobby responded by staging an execution of Mateo in a series of images called The Performance Review:

Digital photograph made in VR of a murdered avatar
Bobby executes Mateo in a panel from a series of photos called The Performance Review.

“The goal of treatment for DID is integrated functioning, with eventual merger or fusion of the alternate personalities or at least a maximal level of cooperative and integrated functioning. Effective therapy focuses on the alternate personality system as a whole rather than on specific alternate personalities. The therapist must emphasize the adaptive role and validity of all personalities and encourage the patient to find adaptive ways to accommodate the wishes and needs of all personalities…”

The Rational Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Hullaba Lulu

I usually avoid collaborations with other bloggers because I can’t guarantee all of me will agree.

Making the illustrations for Teagan Geneviene’s Hullaba Lulu was Sara’s idea.

Sara wanted a fresh reason to play dress up.

Sara gave Bobby the role of Valentino.

Valentino, Lulu and Tom Driberg

She gave Mateo the role of Tom Driberg.

Matthew became Gramps and Tesla

A portrait of an avatar named Gramps
Gramps

 

VR image of an avatar to represent Tesla
Tesla

Peter, a child alternate played a bot.

VR image of an avatar as a child talking to a skeleton
Peter: A Skeleton in the Attic

It was Peter’s idea to use the Metropolis costumes for the bots.


As each alternate got more involved, they gave their ideas to each other
and to Teagan and lent their different skills to staging the shoots.

This is the first time my primary alternates have shared their memories with
each other and with me.

Dissociative Identity Disorder distorts the experience of experiencing

I can’t directly experience staging a shoot in virtual reality but the
fact that I can watch it happen and remember it as something ‘I’ did is
a sign of progress; a real victory.

I asked Teagan for permission to write about our collaboration; she wrote
this for me to include my post:

“Rob, this project — your brilliant images and my storytelling — I’ve always said that it nurtured both of us. That was heartfelt. Working with you helped me through an ongoing extremely difficult time. While I can’t ignore that my life has been full of challenges and failures, this Hullaba Lulu and the way we’ve worked together has been a delightful, uplifting success in so many ways. When I look at the images, it’s as though the avatars cheer me on, to keep me writing the story. I wouldn’t trade you (any of you) for anything. You are an inspiring light. Shine on, my friend.”

Lulu

Thank you, Teagan.

Thank you, WordPress.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018

21 thoughts on “Coping with DID: A Real Victory

  1. Another touching post, Rob! I know how hard it is to get the images out of the suffering minds. My client broke through after three meetings with me. We were so happy for the light shines through. Your working with Teagan proved to be a positive process. It’s good to hear that this is a healing to both of you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand very well. I know that other than neurological defects one is born with, other situations are 30% by birth and 70% by environment. According to studies, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) affect a great deal of human development.
        Yes, you’re on the way to get well and return to be the person you were born to be. I’m so happy to see the progress!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bless you both. You both took on a challenge, and you both did some healing and growing, all the while wowing us. I’m glad this has had such a positive impact.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I adored Hullabaloo Lulu and I hope that all of you and Teagan can work together again on another serial. My psychotherapist tried to talk to me about merging my others at the moment are not playing with that concept.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am sure it has been very challenging for you to cope with DID. I watch my son’s struggle with PTSD and OCD and I know it is really hard. I am glad that this delightful series has been good for you. I absolutely love it and the ideas are wonderful, the artwork a delight.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rob, I read your recent post about living with DID but I didn’t quite know how to respond. Because I’ve been following Lulu, I feel more comfortable saying that this does sound like progress. Not that you have to convinve me, you should know. In any case, I can say with certainty that this collaboration has been special, at least in its result.

    I don’t begin to understand the journey you are on, but I wish you luck and eventual success.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rob, most interesting to read about your process of collaboration in Teagan’s series. It sounds like a real victory for you. Your images gave the story life & character. An definite plus. Thank you for sharing your integration of self. Your talents are incredible. 📚 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

I appreciate your comments, though I can’t always reply immediately

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