Dissociative Identity Disorder: The Monsters Are Back

Some context.

I often write from the perspective of an alternate personality, in this case Peter, a child alternate who thinks he’s a ghost. I first posted this piece in July 2016.

Warning: Content may be triggering.

The Monsters are Back


Today was a week and now is a year.

Grief

Grieve

Grieving

Art by Rob Goldstein
Scissors

It’s 1958; monsters are everywhere.

They hiss faggot as I walk with my
head bowed.

They gather in packs and surround me.

I freeze in horror and shame.

It’s 2018 and the monsters are back.

I know these monsters;

They killed me when I was five.

A black and white screenshot of avatars staged to represent a child alternate named Peter and protector alternate named Bobby.
A screenshot of avatars staged to represent a child alternate named Peter and protector alternate named Bobby.

All material on this page (c) Rob Goldstein 2016-2018

More info: What is an alternate?

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Warning: potentially triggering content.

A single homicide has a dozen victims

***

Discovered–

by the whore who lived upstairs,

‘usta stench, but nothin’
like this!’

your disordered flesh.

The cops thought  

you were Black

when they

found you,

no face,

 no fingerprints…

Tall order lady,

greasy spoon waitress:

what did we do–

to deserve this?

 

(c) Rob Goldstein, 1982 – 2015

 

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

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
people.

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.”

1978

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

Sources:

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