DID and the Arrow of Time

This is slightly edited SOC:

There are three major types of dissociative disorder defined in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association:

Dissociative amnesia. The main symptom is memory loss that’s more severe than normal forgetfulness and that can’t be explained by a medical condition. You can’t recall information about yourself or events and people in your life, especially from a traumatic time. Dissociative amnesia can be specific to events in a certain time, such as intense combat, or more rarely, can involve complete loss of memory about yourself. It may sometimes involve travel or confused wandering away from your life (dissociative fugue). An episode of amnesia usually occurs suddenly and may last minutes, hours, or rarely, months or years.

Dissociative identity disorder. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, this disorder is characterized by “switching” to alternate identities. You may feel the presence of two or more people talking or living inside your head, and you may feel as though you’re possessed by other identities. Each identity may have a unique name, personal history and characteristics, including obvious differences in voice, gender, mannerisms and even such physical qualities as the need for eyeglasses. There also are differences in how familiar each identity is with the others. People with dissociative identity disorder typically also have dissociative amnesia and often have dissociative fugue.

Depersonalization-derealization disorder. This involves an ongoing or episodic sense of detachment or being outside yourself — observing your actions, feelings, thoughts and self from a distance as though watching a movie (depersonalization). Other people and things around you may feel detached and foggy or dreamlike, time may be slowed down or sped up, and the world may seem unreal (derealization). You may experience depersonalization, derealization or both. Symptoms, which can be profoundly distressing, may last only a few moments or come and go over many years

Dissociative Identity Disorder is the other two disorders plus alternate identities with memories of their own.

“Each identity may have a unique name, personal history, and characteristics, including obvious differences in voice, gender, mannerisms, and even such physical qualities as the need for eyeglasses. There also are differences in how familiar each identity is with the others.”

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.

The present is the past in the present, got that?

Research is improved since I was first diagnosed 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

 

Bobby and the Aversion Therapist

Bobby carries a unique sense of self that functions independently of the rest of me.

His job was to figure out how to survive into adulthood.

To survive, Bobby had to hide his intellect.

He adopted a thick geechie accent.

He was tough and not afraid of his Mother.

His goal was to get away from her and his first strategy was to force a psychiatrist to commit him.

He decided that he would use the systems lies about “queers” to his advantage.

But he wasn’t prepared for how the ‘system’ treated ‘queers’ in
1967.

Bobby writes:

“One day I found a book called, “By Reason of Insanity.

It was all about this guy who goes crazy and kills his wife.

He is sent to the loony bin so he can go sane and stand trial for murder.

Most of the book was about the people he meets in the hospital.

Some of the people scream and see things that ain’t there.

But the hospital also had food and schools.

I thought hell, check it out!

I got Grandma to convince Momma to take me to see a shrink.

I said I had a “Three Faces of Eve” thing goin’ on, an at that time, I thought I was telling a lie.

Grandma called Momma right away an Momma jumped.

The psychiatrist Momma took me to was scrawny.

He looked like Mr. Spock from “Star Trek”: “Is there anything  you’d like to tell me about yourself, bobby.”

“Yeh–I think I’m queer.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Well–” I looked up at him and blushed, “I think about boys when I-you know.”

And that got me sent up.

The shrink told Momma that I needed to go to the state hospital for “observation.”

I got all excited since that seemed almost as good as going to New York.

***

The hospital had a place for kids.

It was a tall red brick building with locks on every door.

When Momma an’ me got there, Momma suddenly got very polite, and she  gave me permission to smoke.

When the doctor came to meet us, she acted all scared, like she was talking to Grandma.

“Ya’all treat my baby good!” she cried.

Then she called me darling, and left.

***

This hospital was nothing like the one in my book.

It was all shiny inside and Muzac played all day long through little loudspeakers in the ceiling.

Everyone looked numb.

I made friends with this other queer who was a year older than me.

He was a rich kid who went on and on about how he hoped the doctors could turn him straight.

Here I was, fifteen and already out.

I thought this kid was crazy and said so!

“Listen!” I said, “That ain’t never gonna happen. So get over it!”

Well he hauled off and slapped me!

Then he got so upset about slapping me he started to cry.

A nurse came over to give him some pills.

She gave me an evil look.

Like I had picked up that boy’s hand and slapped myself!

I thought she’d like me better if she had to give me some pills, so I asked for some.

“Why do you think you need medication, Bobby?”

“I think I’m seein’ people that ain’t really there.”

“Be sure you tell that to your doctor.”

***

“Tell me a little something about your childhood.” the doctor said.

“Well it ain’t over yet!” I said.

“True enough.” he smiled. “Why do you think you’re here?”

“I guess ’cause I’m queer.” I answered. “Howcum you ain’t got no people screamin’ around here?”

He smiled again. “Do you feel like screaming?”

***

That shrink really thought I was crazy.

Now I knew I wasn’t, but I reminded myself that for these folks, queer was the same thing.

When Momma came to visit she always put on the good behavior that she wore for Grandma.

I said, “Momma! These people gonna do some kinda shock treatment on me!”

“They’ll do what they can to make you better.” she said. “I hope you’re smokin’ like I said you could.”

I was in deep water for screwing that rich kid.

A month passed.

“Whut if yew had relations with a man an’ caught the clap in yore mouth?” The social worker asked me one day, like I already had it.

“You can get that from eatin’ pussy!” I said,  “Why don’t you people calm down an’ let me go home?”

That rich kid told me all about the therapy the doctors was doing on him.

“First, they strap you inna chair with your weenie hanging out. Then they put glue on it and stick wires to it. Then they show you pictures of hot dudes an’ shock the piss outta you if you so much as sigh!”

Now, Momma had to understand how bad that was!

“Lissen up!” I said at her next visit. “These shrinks is gonna “lectrocute me!”

“They say they only use a lil’ “lectricity, darlin’.”

“And how would you like it if every time you sat onna barstool some one zapped you off?”

Momma got that dark look she always got when she wanted to hit me.

“Have a little respect for your Momma!” She said in a tight but polite tone of voice.

***

“Do you want Bobby to be a hama-sect-ual?” The shrink asked Momma at the treatment meeting.

“He was always a tad girlish, but I have always maintained that it is important for men to be men.

“Let em fry my dick off, ” I said, “see what kind of man I’ll be then!”

“The shrink ignored me.

“I think that Bobby can be cured. These deviant behaviors are not set until adulthood.”

“But I don’t wanna get cured!” I said. “I ain’t got nothin’ to cure!

I glared at Momma.

She sat there like the best little girl in the world.

Then I knew what I had to do.

“Momma! You let this fool shock me an’ I’ll call Grandma and tell her all about you. Every. Thing.”

Momma blushed.

She looked down and twisted her wedding ring.

Then she looked up at the doctor with such wide, innocent looking brown eyes:

“I do want what’s best for Bobby. But it’s such a big decision! I think I should consult with his Father first.”

***

(c) Rob Goldstein 1985-2018

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 alternates into VR she comforts them 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

 

 

 

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A Semi-Literate Boy Named Bobby

I was a project kid, pretty but hard to make.

Most of the men I let into my life started in pursuit but stayed as teachers.

I was bright and gave my full attention to any man who was willing to teach me about the world of art.

The music I knew was the music of my parents and the other kids in the projects.

From my Father I got Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens, and Skeeter Davis.

From my Mother I got Dinah Shore and Kitty Wells.

From the other kids in the projects I got Motown.

With the music of Motown I learned I could dance and for me dancing is still spiritual.

Everyone said I moved like a black kid, and it was true.

Black folks were my friends and neighbors.

As far as I was concerned I was a Black kid with pale skin.

I figured that Blackness was as much about class as it is about race.

My friend Paul knew I knew my ‘place’ in Charleston’s antiquated class system and that I wanted out.

Paul lived in the rich part of Charleston; the historic district near Battery Park.

He invited me to lunch one especially bright spring day.

He poured tea and showed me a decorative plate that was inlaid with hundreds of shimmering butterfly wings.

Paul liked exquisite objects.

We stepped onto the patio that overlooked his garden and I brought a branch of wisteria to my nose.

Paul said that he wanted me to hear a record.

He said he wanted my opinion.

Then he placed the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Minor on the turntable.

I heard the needle drop, and then a timpani followed by woodwinds.

I listened as Beethoven told me a story.

I had never heard a story more complex and profound.

It was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen or touched.

And I never stopped listening….

Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

by Yehudi Menuhin, violin Wilhelm Furtwangler, cond Philharmonia Orchestra of London Recorded: 1953

  1. Allegro ma non troppo

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