Loss of time, loss of awareness, and the loss of self are all manifestations of dissociation. According to the DSM-IV, Dissociative Identity Disorder is the existence in an individual of two or more distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. At least two personalities are present in the same individual. Their existence can be proven by handwriting analysis, amnesia, and the loss of time (though the latter two symptoms were often said to be symptoms of UFO abductions). Everyone experiences small episodes of dissociation every now and again.On a bad day, sometimes a person does not feel like himself.
Also, they can stare off into space for several hours at a time and never remember what they did before. One writer had reported becoming so dazed she missed her exit and ended up in the next town (Haddock, 1). That is normal. Unfortunately, this state of double-consciousness persists in 1% of the general population to the point where it is a way of life. Among abused children, the incidence is much higher. Most research attributes DID to some traumatic event or severe abuse in early life.They usually feel alienated from the outside world.
Bray continues to describe the dissociative state in order to give therapists and social workers a small taste of what this entails, “When dissociated, people may feel disconnected from themselves, as if operating on autopilot. They may also feel disconnected from the world around them, as though there is an invisible force shield that prevents them from interacting with others”(2). Only highly crucial, minimal information can penetrate this force field, and in extreme cases, not even then.To an individual suffering from DID, the confines of this force field is their everyday reality. In the context of social work, this condition will be encountered quite frequently. Abused children often separate themselves from their lives in order to deal with the pain that is inflicted upon them. Before one can bridge the gap between the alternate reality and the present one, a thorough understanding of the dissociative state. Quite often, it becomes confused with psychotic behavior because of the apparent disconnection from the world around them, like a break from reality.
As it turns out, a person with DID will be shutting herself off from a situation that she cannot manage, yet some part of her remains rooted in reality. The psychotic, on the other hand, has no anchor holding him to the real world anymore. Some may argue that psychosis is the ultimate dissociation, but it appears that the dissociative still clings to reality, even as the hold is quite tenuous. Sometimes the stress is transferred to a “stronger” part of the self, which can often be construed as an entirely different personality. Within the body of this paper, we will explore the creation of self-hood by those with DID.Also, the link between DID and child abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as individuals that lead high stress lives. Summary One of the greatest concerns in understanding DID is taking it seriously. There are many works of fiction in the popular imagination where the dissociative state was used by sociopaths to affect insanity.
With so many false claims in this arena, it is difficult to take people that are genuinely suffering very seriously. Many therapists do not recognize it as a mental illness even though it is included in the DSM-IV.Because there is no biological basis for the disease, many people are not getting the treatment they need. It is this same lack of biological evidence that causes psychiatrists to dismiss this condition out of hand and attribute it to something else (Haddock, 56). On a good note, more research has been conducted on the subject within the past decade or so as more psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers seek to understand a state of being that can be characterized as a subconscious coping mechanism. Also, we have come to a point in scientific inquiry that seeks to peer into the very nature of consciousness.Neuroscientists and physicists are also investigating this phenomenon, but in a purely physical way, i.
e. , in terms of neural networks and the brain’s structure. This multidisciplinary approach helps to create realistic models of how the “self” is organized. However, Louis Oppenheimer argues that the approach to understanding DID is flawed. He argues in his paper that what is known as DID is really an associative problem, i.
e. , there are parts of the brain that are unable to assimilate information very deeply or interface with the environment constructively.The malady known as amnesia, is simply the loss of “non-integrated parts of the self. Cognitive complexity of the neurological system may be an endogenous factor affecting the occurrence of associative disorders and in part explain the many instances in which severe childhood abuse (i. e.
physical, sexual and/ or mental abuse) does not result in any symptoms of failing association” (Oppenheimer, 97). In 1997, a research project was launched to understand DID in twelve murderers. The team wanted to document the incidences of child abuse in each subject’s life because many psychologists doubted its existence.Lewis and her team wanted to take an objective approach to the study and verify all symptoms and abuse suffered by each individual. They concluded that dult murderers with DID all suffered from severe abuse. Objectivity was maintained because data was gathered from a multiplicity of sources, i.
e. medical, psychiatric, social service, school, military, and prison records. Family members were interviewed, along with others that might have known them well. Handwriting was analyzed, and the team ran a qualitative analysis.They concluded that all were severely abused and all had experienced dissociative symptoms of withdrawal or amnesia.
Changes in writing style were evident. “This study establishes, once and for all, the linkage between early severe abuse and dissociative identity disorder. Further, the data demonstrate that the disorder can be distinguished from malingering and from other disorders. The study shows that it is possible, with great effort, to obtain objective evidence of both the symptoms of dissociative identity disorder and the abuse that engenders it”(1703).Jeffrey Haugaard concurs with the above conclusions, “Children who have experienced severe maltreatment may use dissociation as a strategy to cope with the ongoing trauma of their maltreatment.
Although dissociation may help children cope with maltreatment, it can become maladaptive if it is used in other contexts”(146). In 2006, Brad Foote et al wanted to determine the prevalence of DID in the inner-city, especially among mental patients therein. Sampling 231 patients, mostly women, each subject was going to give a personal history of dissociative experiences coupled with a history of abuse.However, only 82 completed the process. Almost 30% of the patients interviewed was diagnosed with some kind of dissociative disorder while only 6% were confirmed to have Dissociative Identity Disorder.
In the results they found, “Compared to the patients without a dissociative disorder diagnosis, patients with a dissociative disorder were significantly more likely to report childhood physical abuse (71% versus 27%) and childhood sexual abuse (74% versus 29%), but the two groups did not differ significantly on any demographic measure, including gender”(623).Further research revealed that only 5% of patients in whom a dissociative disorder was identified during the study had previously received a dissociative disorder diagnosis, which proves these disorders are poorly understood and under diagnosed. In some of the other dissociative disorders, the trauma involved was not physical or sexual, but emotional. Because emotional abuse has not been explored very thoroughly in psychiatric research. Daphne Simeon et al tested the relationship between different kinds of trauma and depersonalization disorder.As one of the disorders on the dissociative axis, no definitive link has been made between child abuse and depersonalization. Researchers administered a test to 75 subjects, some healthy, some diagnosed with depersonalization disorder. Results have shown that “emotional abuse, both in total score and in maximum severity, emerged as the most significant predictor both of a diagnosis of depersonalization disorder and of scores denoting depersonalization but not of general dissociation scores, which were better predicted by combined emotional and sexual abuse”(1027).
The parents were the most likely suspects. Other forms of trauma did not yield a statistically significant correlation to depersonalization disorder. Comments The need to disconnect from the horrors of life is an ancient method of self-preservation. In the past, such dissociation was not the province of a disordered mind, but instead, was a sign of strength—of being able to deal with any and all circumstances that come into one’s existence.However, such dissociation was temporary until time, the healer of all wounds, was able to work its medicine. Across the country and the world, millions of children are abused every day. According to most accounts, they will grow up and do it to their own children.
Maybe this is so because they had forgotten what it felt like to be treated that way. Plus, ill treatment was all that these children knew and mentally shutting down was the only way that they could survive. Removing them from their parents to learn another way of life.Unfortunately, it appears that many foster families abuse children as well though there are genuinely good people that rescue children from dire circumstances. One definitive conclusion that can be drawn from the current research is the need to continue learning more about the topic, exploring it in greater depth.
While dissociation has been proven objectively in several controlled studies, the science looking into the proliferation of multiple personalities had not yet been developed.